An example of beautiful prose in Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan.

You’ve surely had that experience where you’ve set down your keys, or a phone number, or a bank card but can’t remember where. You turn your pockets inside out, rifle through the cushions on the sofa, search the crevices of your vehicle, call your friends … all to no avail. You’re on the verge of panic, but you take a breath and turn your eyes inward to retrace your steps in the hope that you can see what you’ve done with your lost item. Thomas Hobbes captures the phenomenology of this experience in beautiful prose,

5. ...Sometimes a man seeks what he hath lost; and from that place and time wherein he misses it his mind runs back, from place to place, and time to time, to find where and when he had it; that is to say, to find some certain and limited time and place in which to begin a method of seeking. Again, from thence, his thoughts run over the same places and times to find what action or other occasion might make him lose it. This we call remembrance or calling to mind. The Latins call it reminiscentia, as it were a re-conning [re-examination] of our former actions.

6.Sometimes a man know a place determinate, within the compass whereof he is to seek; and then his thoughts run all over the parts thereof in the same manner as one would sweep a room to find a jewel, or as a spaniel ranges a field to find a scent, or as a man should run over the alphabet to start a rhyme. 

Thomas Hobbes, A.P. Martinich and Brian Battiste, Eds, Leviathan, Broadview, 2011. Chapter III, p 49.

Categories: Philosophy

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