We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Feminist Interpretations of Thomas Hobbes

Edited by Nancy J. Hirschmann and Joanne H. Wright

Publication Year: 2012

Feminist Interpretations of Thomas Hobbes features the work of feminist scholars who are centrally engaged with Hobbes’s ideas and texts and who view Hobbes as an important touchstone in modern political thought. Bringing together scholars from the disciplines of philosophy, history, political theory, and English literature who embrace diverse theoretical and philosophical approaches and a range of feminist perspectives, this interdisciplinary collection aims to appeal to an audience of Hobbes scholars and nonspecialists alike. As a theorist whose trademark is a compelling argument for absolute sovereignty, Hobbes may seem initially to have little to offer twenty-first-century feminist thought. Yet, as the contributors to this collection demonstrate, Hobbesian political thought provides fertile ground for feminist inquiry. Indeed, in engaging Hobbes, feminist theory engages with what is perhaps the clearest and most influential articulation of the foundational concepts and ideas associated with modernity: freedom, equality, human nature, authority, consent, coercion, political obligation, and citizenship. Aside from the editors, the contributors are Joanne Boucher, Karen Detlefsen, Karen Green, Wendy Gunther-Canada, Jane S. Jaquette, S. A. Lloyd, Su Fang Ng, Carole Pateman, Gordon Schochet, Quentin Skinner, and Susanne Sreedhar.

Published by: Penn State University Press

Series: Re-Reading the Canon


pdf iconDownload PDF (277.2 KB)
p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF (66.9 KB)
pp. 2-7


pdf iconDownload PDF (34.0 KB)
pp. 8-9

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (35.3 KB)
pp. ix-xi

Take into your hands any history of philosophy text. You will find com-piled therein the ‘‘classics’’ of modern philosophy. Since these texts are often designed for use in undergraduate classes, the editor is likely to offer an introduction in which the reader is ...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (17.8 KB)
p. xiii-xiii

For research and travel funds that supported various aspects of this project, Joanne Wright wishes to thank the University of New Brunswick Research Fund and the Harrison McCain Foundation Scholars Award, and Nancy Hirschmann wishes to thank the ...

read more

Introduction: The Many Faces of ‘‘Mr. Hobs’’

pdf iconDownload PDF (87.9 KB)
pp. 1-17

The very idea of a volume of feminist essays on Hobbes may seem at first glance to be puzzling, if not futile.1 As a theorist whose trademark is are lentlessly logical argument for absolute sovereignty, Hobbes may seem initially to have little to offer twenty-first-century ..

read more

Chapter 1: Hobbes, History, Politics, and Gender: A Conversation with Carole Pateman and Quentin Skinner

pdf iconDownload PDF (115.8 KB)
pp. 18-43

NH: Each of you is a leading representative, perhaps even the founding figure, of a different school of Hobbes scholarship and criticism: the Cambridge school and feminism. So it might be a helpful place to start if each ...

PART I: Classic Questions, New Approaches

pdf iconDownload PDF (17.0 KB)
p. 45-45

read more

Chapter 2: Power and Sexual Subordination in Hobbes’s Political Theory

pdf iconDownload PDF (86.1 KB)
pp. 47-62

Hobbes famously describes the individuals inhabiting the state of nature as sufficiently equal in bodily strength and mental intelligence that everyone of them is vulnerable to aggression by others. Within this normal range of adult human ..

read more

Chapter 3: Defending Liberal Feminism: Insights from Hobbes

pdf iconDownload PDF (101.4 KB)
pp. 63-82

Conventional interpretations of Hobbes—that his pessimistic view of men as selfish and violent required an absolute sovereign to keep them in line—make him an ideal foil for feminist critics. Although Hobbes is the one canonical political theorist who asserts ...

read more

Chapter 4: Hobbes and the Bestial Body of Sovereignty

pdf iconDownload PDF (99.4 KB)
pp. 83-101

Leviathan opens with an unforgettable image of the body of the common-wealth. But instead of picturing the natural body from the familiar body-state analogy, Hobbes offers a body that he terms ‘‘an Artificiall Man,’’that is, a machine; and for Hobbes, machines are ...

PART II: The Gendered Politics of Gratitude, Contract, and the Family

pdf iconDownload PDF (17.0 KB)
p. 103-103

read more

Chapter 5: Thomas Hobbes on the Family and the State of Nature (1967)

pdf iconDownload PDF (100.0 KB)
pp. 105-124

I am pleased that the editors find this essay, which I wrote over forty-five years ago, worthy of republication. And while I remain committed to its general claims, I would reframe my arguments today. When I wrote, women and the family on the one hand and gratitude on the ...

read more

Chapter 6: Gordon Schochet on Hobbes ,Gratitude, and Women

pdf iconDownload PDF (105.9 KB)
pp. 125-145

It is oddly fitting that the first contemporary ‘‘feminist’’ essay on Thomas Hobbes was written by a man. Gordon Schochet’s ‘‘Thomas Hobbes on the Family and the State of Nature,’’ published in 1967—and reprinted with some modifications ...

PART III: Hobbes and His(torical) Women

pdf iconDownload PDF (17.0 KB)
p. 147-147

read more

Chapter 7: Margaret Cavendish and Thomas Hobbes on Freedom, Education, and Women

pdf iconDownload PDF (99.1 KB)
pp. 149-168

Thomas Hobbes exerted one of the most significant contemporary influences on the thought of Margaret Cavendish. Hobbes’s influence was both positive and negative. Cavendish shares many important doctrines with him, some of which put them in a very small minority ...

read more

Chapter 8: When Is a Contract Theorist Not a Contract Theorist?: Mary Astell and Catharine Macaulayas Critics of Thomas Hobbes

pdf iconDownload PDF (106.1 KB)
pp. 169-189

Thomas Hobbes’s version of social contract theory has played an important part in twentieth-century feminist critiques of liberalism. Despite the clear historical roots of contemporary feminism in eighteenth-century republicanism, and in those tendencies, ...

read more

Chapter 9: Catharine Macaulay’s ‘‘Loose Remarks’’ on Hobbesian Politics

pdf iconDownload PDF (129.1 KB)
pp. 190-215

That the universe is governed by one God we will not dispute; and will also add, that God has an undoubted right to govern what he has himself created, and that it is beneficial to the creature to be governed by the Father of all things; but that this should be an argument for a man to govern ...

PART IV: Hobbes in the Twenty-First Century, or What Has Hobbes (Done for You Lately?)

pdf iconDownload PDF (17.1 KB)
p. 217-217

read more

Chapter 10: Thomas Hobbes and the Problem of Fetal Personhood

pdf iconDownload PDF (105.2 KB)
pp. 219-239

Abortion has been central to feminist aspirations and campaigns to win full reproductive rights for women since the earliest days of the Second Wave of the women’s movement of the 1960s in North America. Abortion offers a dramatic illustration of the ...

read more

Chapter 11: Choice Talk, Breast Implants, and Feminist Consent Theory: Hobbes’s Legacy in Choice Feminism

pdf iconDownload PDF (98.1 KB)
pp. 240-259

In an era of abundant ‘‘choice talk,’’ the proliferation of individual choice is equated with freedom and liberation. A variety of feminist thinking that we might call ‘‘choice feminism’’ subscribes to the widely held societal perspective that the provision of more choices for women ...

read more

Chapter 12: Toward a Hobbesian Theory of Sexuality

pdf iconDownload PDF (104.1 KB)
pp. 260-279

The field of sexual ethics is a surprising place to encounter a discussion of Thomas Hobbes. After all, this field is concerned with debates about the moral status of various sexual desires, behaviors, relationships, and practices, and, at first glance, Hobbes appears ...

Notes on Contributors

pdf iconDownload PDF (35.4 KB)
pp. 281-283


pdf iconDownload PDF (70.7 KB)
pp. 285-297


pdf iconDownload PDF (274.2 KB)
p. 313-313

E-ISBN-13: 9780271061306
Print-ISBN-13: 9780271056357
Print-ISBN-10: 0271056355

Page Count: 312
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Re-Reading the Canon