Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell Page: 17
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sovereign, have entrusted these rights to him and expect him to act according to both his
individual needs and their needs as a commonwealth.
According to Hobbes, "only the absolute sovereign is a genuine common power" (Kavka
5). One can infer, then, that libertines who live in commonwealths generally recognize only
themselves as the common power absolute sovereigns and subjects of their own commonwealths
and refuse to follow the laws the sovereigns of social institutions dictate to their subjects. They
refuse to see anyone other than themselves individually as absolute sovereigns worthy of
obedience. Further, libertines will not fulfill the duties of their role as subjects to various social
institutional authorities. Whether the sovereign is a monarch, God, or institutions such as family
and marriage, libertines will defy any sovereign they do not choose for themselves, and since
they prefer to let their instincts guide them then naturally, the only sovereign they will choose to
obey is themselves.
Since libertines arguably would prefer to live in the state of nature than a commonwealth,
then logically it makes sense for them to follow what Hobbes calls the first and second laws of
nature. Before explaining these two laws, however, Hobbes first defines "law of nature" and
"right of nature" (Hobbes 64). Hobbes writes: "A law of nature, (Lex Naturalis) is a Precept, or
generall Rule, found out by Reason, by which a man is forbidden to do, that, which is destructive
of his life, or taketh away the means of preserving the same; and to omit, that, by which he
thinketh it may be best preserved" (64). Therefore, in the state of nature, men must let their self-
interest guide them and use it as a means to protect them from potential harm and the "right of
nature" guarantees them this right. Hobbes defines the "right of nature" in the following:
The Right of Nature, which Writers commonly call Jus Naturale, is the Liberty each man
hath, to use his own power, as he will himselfe, for the preservation of his own Nature;
that is to say, of his own Life; and consequently, of doing any thing, which in his own
Judgement, and Reason, hee shall conceive to be the aprest means thereunto. (64)
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Smith, Victoria. Libertines Real and Fictional in Rochester, Shadwell, Wycherley, and Boswell, dissertation, May 2008; Denton, Texas. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc6051/m1/23/?q=rochester: accessed March 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; .