Catharine Macaulay on the Paradox of Paternal Authority in Hobbesian Politics

Academic Article


  • Catharine Macaulay's first political pamphlet, “Loose remarks on certain positions to be found in Mr. Hobbes's philosophical rudiments of government and society with a short sketch for a democratical form of government in a letter to Signor Paoli,” published in London in 1769, has received no significant scholarly attention in over two hundred years. It is of primary interest because of the light it sheds on Macaulay's critique of patriarchal politics, which helps to establish a new line of thinking about the historian as an early feminist writer. It appears she was working from an unauthorized edition of the Thomas Hobbes'sDe Cive(1647) entitledPhilosophicall Rudiments of Government and Society, printed by a royalist bookseller in London 1651. Some errors in this translation may explain Macaulay's skewed understanding of Hobbess argument in support of the premises of monarchy. Her intriguing analysis of paternal authority in “Loose Remarks” anticipates recent feminist explorations of Hobbesian political thought.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Gunther-Canada W
  • Start Page

  • 150
  • End Page

  • 173
  • Volume

  • 21
  • Issue

  • 2