Motherhood and the education of future subjects in Hobbes, Locke, and Wollstonecraft
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The aim of this dissertation is to shed light on an oft-overlooked aspect of Hobbes’ and Locke’s educational theories. Specifically, this dissertation examines the role of mothers in Hobbes’ Locke’s, and Wollstonecraft’s political theories and defends the claim that mothers have an overlooked, important role to play in civic society insofar as they contribute to educating children to become good members of civic society. To date, scholars working on Hobbes and Locke have largely focused on only one type of education and its relationship to civic society. Specifically, they have focused on civic education. Civic education refers to formal programs, such as day school or university curricula aimed at molding individuals into citizens or subjects, capable of sustaining a thriving commonwealth. However, when scholars focus on civic education, they miss part of the story surrounding how Hobbesian and Lockean education is implemented because not all of their educational program can be contained in formal schooling. In the Chapters 1 and 2 of the dissertation, I show that mothers play a role in educating future subjects and citizens in Hobbes’ and Locke’s theories by means of what I call civic socialization. Civic socialization refers to the informal processes by which children are educated to become good subjects and citizens who contribute to the wellbeing and stability of the commonwealth. In Chapter 3, I consider whether mothers’ role in civic socialization is compatible with early modern, liberal theories. Insofar as Hobbes and Locke are early modern, liberal thinkers, they maintain that men and women are naturally equal. However, mothers’ role in civic socialization often results in their subordination to fathers. Mary Wollstonecraft, although a figure in modern philosophy, is useful for showing this tension. In her theory, even when mothers are highly educated, their role in civic socialization often means that mothers must use their education for the benefit of their children and not for themselves.