Janna Thompson critiques 'Catharine Macaulay’s Republican Enlightenment' by Karen Inexperienced

Janna Thompson reviews 'Catharine Macaulay’s Republican Enlightenment' by Karen Green

Catharine Macaulay (1731–91), a celebrated historian in England, was acquainted with leading political figures and intellectuals in Britain, America, and France. American revolutionaries were influenced by her republican principles, and the feminist pioneer Mary Wollstonecraft was inspired by her views. Today she is a largely forgotten figure, at most a footnote in histories of the period and not regarded as significant enough to be included in the Enlightenment pantheon among the luminaries she supported or criticised. Melbourne philosopher Karen Green claims that the neglect of Macaulay is not only an injustice to a historian and philosopher whose works deserve attention. She regards her as an important advocate of a form of Enlightenment thought that cannot be reduced to an apology for the possessive individualism of capitalist society.

Like other Enlightenment thinkers, Macaulay believed in reason and progress. Her views were premised on a belief in a benevolent Christian God who created humans as social as well as rational beings. Like John Locke, Macaulay believed that God endows all humans with natural rights. Reason, she argued, tells us that a good life for humans is a virtuous life. Her republicanism is a corollary of her moral philosophy. A political society ought to protect natural rights and encourage its citizens to be virtuous, and this is only likely if it is a republic governed by a parliament that truly represents the people. A republic, in her view, is not necessarily a political society without a monarch. It is one in which no one is able to claim special privileges or to use political power to oppress others.

From her republican perspective, Macaulay assessed the events of English history in her eight-volume History of England (1763–83). She approved of the deposition of Charles I and defended the Levellers of the English Revolution, but castigated Oliver Cromwell for undermining its progressive potential. She thought that the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688 was mainly an attempt by leading nobles to retain power. Her criticism of taxation without representation was enthusiastically taken up by American rebels. Though she was celebrated for her history, she also wrote a treatise on moral philosophy, tackling difficult philosophical topics like free will. Her work on education supported her belief in progress by arguing that the failure of people to be rational could be overcome by a good education.

One of the most remarkable facts about Macaulay was that she managed to forge a reputation as an intellectual at a time when it was not common for women to become participants in public life. She left no letters or diary to cast a light on how she acquired the ambition to become a historian and philosopher. Green points out that she had access to the large library built up by her family, and supposes that she must have been aware of the writings of other women who had become authors and intellectuals. Macaulay lived at a time when it had become more acceptable for a woman to write for the public using her own name. She was also fortunate to marry two men who supported her.

She suffered a price for her fame, especially after her first husband died and left her vulnerable to innuendo. Her later marriage to a much younger man damaged her reputation and her book sales. After her death in 1791, it did not take long for her reputation to wane.

Radical reformers, Green points out, were no longer popular in the more conservative climate that followed the French Revolution. How much her gender had to do with her eclipse is difficult to know, but as Julia Gillard said in another context, gender doesn’t explain everything, nor nothing.

How should we assess Macaulay’s value as a moral and political thinker? Green admits that there is nothing especially original about her ideas. Macaulay was a synthesiser – she put together views that others expressed into a coherent philosophy. She can also be praised for consistency, a virtue that is less common and more laudable than many people think. She was not centrally concerned with the rights of women, and she had little to say about slavery. But she made it clear that any practice that denigrated people because of their gender or race, and denied them the rights God gave them, was not in accordance with reason. She insisted that virtue was inconsistent with cruelty to animals, and she did not subscribe to the nationalism of Thomas Paine or Edmund Burke because her idea of rights and virtue applied to everyone equally.

The sticking point for modern readers is the dependence of her philosophy on Christian theism. Green argues that most of what she says about reason, virtue, and rights can be translated into a secular idiom. We are, after all, social beings who depend on reason, even though we now have less confidence in its ability to tell us how to live and relate to one another.

Green crams a lot of details into her account of Macaulay’s life and thought, and she assumes readers are familiar with the events and people of her time. But those who find themselves overwhelmed by Green’s exhaustive account of Macaulay’s social connections, politics, and travels, as well as of her writings and the responses of critics and supporters, should persist to the last chapter where she presents a sympathetic but critical assessment of Macaulay and her place in Western thought, and makes a good case for rescuing her from neglect.

Welcome 2018!

For those of you with big writing goals this year, I congratulate you on challenging yourself to such a feat. Me too! I’m also running a few one-on-one-coaching courses this year that I hope to roll out in 2018. If you would like to learn more about how to sign-up, please sign up for my paid critique list at as the first notice will go out there. Thanks to everyone for their support, and I hope I can help you get to the next level (and entertain you with more writing challenges in the upcoming months)!

Happy writing,
Cynthea and the WFCAT crew

SFBRP #431 – Lois McMaster Bujold – Cetaganda – Vorkosigan Saga #9

SFBRP #431 - Lois McMaster Bujold - Cetaganda - Vorkosigan Saga #9

After a 7 year break from the Vorkosigan Saga, Luke catches up with Miles in Ceteganda by Lois McMaster Bujold, and Juliane forgets she ever read The Vor Game.

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Discovering Peace within the Chaos: A Word from Me To You

How much coffee is “too much” coffee? Seriously. I’m asking for a friend…
Thanks to the ridiculous circumstances of 2020, you can find me drinking one cup of joe after another from dawn until late afternoon. Hey – whatever works, right? While caffeine is obviously my drug of choice, what other so-called “drugs” have been helping us survive this crazy year? I can think of a few: Netflix, DoorDash, crafting, exercise (or lack thereof), DisneyPlus, and for many, even alcohol. There’s a case to be made that many coping mechanisms that have been running amok since March are fairly unhealthy, whether it’s drinking too much or replaying episodes of Tiger King over and over (Okay, I admit that I binge-watched that show, too!). 

Lately I have found myself engaged in a whole new type of entertainment: podcasts! I love listening to podcasts, most of which I can listen to endlessly on Spotify thanks to my monthly membership fee. I’ve really been enjoying starting my day by listening to a sermon while I make breakfast for my daughter, and in the afternoons (or whenever I get in the car to drive anywhere, because going leaving the house is a minimum 25-minute drive right off the bat), I’ve been listening to podcasts that cover national and world news. I love being able to simply listen. It gives my overworked eyes a much-needed rest, and it’s healthier, in my opinion, than watching television for hours on end. That being said, if anyone has any podcast recommendations for me, please let me know. I’m really getting into the whole podcast scene! (I’m very late to the party) 

For me, 2020 has become a great example of how getting worried and overwhelmed can really separate me from the peace and perfection of God. I am so quick to be anxious or to get angry about something, but centering myself on His Word is a gentle but firm reminder that I am not in control. Only He who sits on the throne of heaven is. Jesus is not contained nor is He in any way affected by human actions, reactions, or timelines. When I take a step back from my own life and realize that every good and perfect thing is from above, and that all of the chaos here is borne from despair and godlessness, I am optimistically turned back to the truth: my purpose on Earth is not to be afraid or to be angry. My purpose is to bring Glory to God in every way I can, and scripture is very clear that one of the best ways to do that is through obedience through trials and steadfastness in faith during chaos. God is not a God of confusion or disorder – he is a God of justice and righteousness (Isaiah 30:18 and 1 Cor 14:33). Human emotions or immorality cannot ever have an effect on the ultimate outcome of this world, and so while COVID has been a time of confusion, and while the rioting and looting in the streets have been an example of lawlessness and godlessness in our society, I have no fear. God is in control, and how joyful my life is knowing that my eternal future is secured forever! 

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love history. Looking back on history is a great way to remind yourself that the uncertainty and unrest we face in this country today is nothing new. Many periods of chaotic violence have unfolded in the past, and now as then, our fate rests in the hands of God alone. I love this verse: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14). While the 24-hour news cycle focuses solely on the negativity in the world, I encourage you to focus on the positive. Christ is the solution to a very worldly problem: sin! If your focus lies anywhere other than in Him, you will be swept into a temporal existence in which the ups and downs of your life are dominated by immediate emotion and outsider influence. Rooting yourself in the truth of the Bible and arming yourself with the armor of God is a wonderful way to step out the door every day and prepare yourself for the acidity and vitriolic hatred that seems to permeate every level of society, whether it is on social media or on the streets of Kenosha, Washington. 

I write these words of encouragement to you today not because I am some of kind of theological authority or because I have it all figured out. Quite the opposite, in fact! What it comes down to is this: COVID19 has actually been a blessing to me, because it has forced me to slow down, reset, and reconnect with Jesus Christ. I have been able to reevaluate what kind of a woman, wife, and mother I want to be, and I gotta say, I’m so much happier in my day-to-day life when I am constantly being re-centered on the Word. 

To add to this, let me also bring up some interesting things that have happened to me lately in regard to personal desires or likes. In the past, I’ve talked a lot about keeping a positive mindset, setting goals, and motivating yourself to get things done. I still stand behind that and believe that a measure of self-discipline is very admirable. That being said, what you fill your mind with will affect not only your attitude, but your view of the world. I have given up some things in the past few months that I felt were only bogging me down; things like scary movies or music that might glorify violence. None of these things are pleasing to God nor do they bring Glory to Him. I have noticed that when I throw negative things or darker, worldly-laced things out of my life, that I have a better attitude, a better mindset, and a much more solid worldview. When I look at a headline or see a video on social media about another police officer being executed on the streets, having a headspace that allows me to process these things from a Biblical perspective is incredibly healing. I have compassion for the people who are suffering and I have a desire for righteous justice. I tend to desire the things that Jesus desires, and that is because I am focusing my willpower and my attention on the Bible, which feeds my heart, which then spills out into my everyday life, bringing not only peace to myself but adding peace to my family. I certainly don’t want my daughter to grow up observing her mother frazzled and overwhelmed by the craziness of the world. What kind of an example would that set? 

Parenthood is another element of my life that changed me. When you become a parent, the desire to nurture the small life that has been placed in your home is overwhelming. You want to do the right things and raise your children on the right path, and it can be so easy to be swept up in things that bear no fruit in your household. Anger, resentment, hate-fueled politics, and inflammatory rhetoric from any source is obscenely detrimental to raising children. I want my child to grow up in a household that acknowledges God’s supreme control over all things. I want my child to grow up to respect everyone, from people to property. I want my child to understand who really calls the shots: it’s not Satan, although he prowls this world like a lion, waiting to devour, according to the Bible (1 Peter 5:8). I want my child to understand the difference between right and wrong, and good versus evil. There is no gray area. There is God’s way, and then there is sin. That is the bottom line. As Christians, we are called to live holy lives (1 Peter 2:9), set apart from the ways of the world. We are not to be of the world, but rather, in it. I love this verse: “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:13-16). Christians are not supposed to be like everybody else. Frankly, Christianity is rarely ever popular. Following Jesus requires a denial of one’s self and man’s inherently sinful nature bucks intensely against that idea. It is a day-to-day struggle, and yet the reward is eternal. 

All of this to say, I want to encourage you to fix your eyes on things above. I realize that not all of my readers are Christians or even religious, but this has been something that has been on my heart. I have spent the last near-decade writing about rebels and fighters and people who GET THINGS DONE. I love a fighter and a good guy, and I love even more when people stand up against evil and come out victorious. The truth is, on Earth, the good guys don’t always win, but that’s okay. In the end, we will all stand before the judgement throne of God and answer for our sins, and I pray that your name will be written in the Book of Life on that day. 

Have a wonderful weekend, folks, and remember: I’m open to podcast suggestions and book recommendations! 

All the pieces Perceived is a Projection of the Conditioned Thoughts

Photo by Brian Thompson

Photo by Brian Thompson

Everything perceived is a projection of the mind within mind. But the mind is nothing but a bundle of conditioning, to which you have no say in the matter.

Every thought, every feeling, every reaction and every sensation is conditioned — conditioned by a body’s physical qualities, by family, by education, by culture, by media, and by one’s imagination. We never see things as they are, only as we think they are. As such, there is no “world” outside of this conditioning, as the world itself is nothing but an appearance arising within this mind — an “appearance” that is never the same and is continually changing.

If you investigate your own direct experience, here and now, and drop all of your learned concepts and knowledge, even for just a brief moment, you will see that there is no world “out there” whatsoever. There is only “This” — this suchness that I am, this alive-Beingness that somehow encompasses all seeming things, including perceptions of the world, even including perceptions of my so-called personal “self”.

There is no chaos outside of the mind. It is the mind that is the chaos, as there can be no perceived world without it. Empty of the mind’s chatter, there is only the stillness of your undeniable presence.

Attune the mind with the natural silence of this Awareness that you are and the absolute nothingness of your Presence of Being will be realized as the sole Truth upon which all other apparent “things” rely. Can you see that Consciousness — your SELF — is inherently empty of all things? You ARE this beautiful, still and aware emptiness.

We create illusions by believing whatever conditioned thoughts are appearing to us in any given moment. By habit, we repeat mantras over and over again in our minds, meditating them into beliefs. Such as I am depressed, I am angry, or I am stuck. Thoughts convince us that we need more of this and less of that, which cause constant dissatisfaction and stress. But if we ignore this stream of noise from the mind and instead rest in the silence of Self, which is still and unchanging — forever REAL — then, all illusions will dissolve in the light of this Awareness that you ARE.

You’ll be able to’t take away statues except you imagine in god

There are a lot of activists wanting statues of people who lived 100, 200, or more years ago to be removed. The argument is that the people represented by the statues believed that white races are superior to black races, and this is wrong.

I am not interested in debating whether removing statues is a good idea or not. But I do want to point something out that I think is being missed.

The statement, “Racism is wrong,” is a statement of morality. By saying that racism is wrong, you are saying, “You ought not think that one race is superior to another,” or “It is morally or ethically wrong for you to think one race is superior to another.”

Nowadays most people in western society think moral laws come ultimately from one of two places. Either humans/societies create moral laws or moral laws come from a supernatural, timeless God.

If you think that there is no supernatural, timeless God, and that human beings/societies ultimately create all moral laws, then you cannot judge racism to be morally wrong for cultures that disagree with you. If the majority of people of the late 1700’s in America believed that whites are superior to blacks, than a person living in that era was morally obligated to agree with that belief. That was their morality, created by them, at that time. Whether our culture today believes racism to be morally wrong is completely irrelevant. If you believe humans create moral laws, then we must judge humans by the moral laws in existence at the time they live. To do otherwise is irrational.

However, if you believe moral laws ultimately come from a supernatural God who is timeless and unchanging (this is the God of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), then moral laws are also timeless and unchanging. In this case, you can judge people who lived in the past by the unchanging moral laws which come from God.

If you believe in God, feel free to judge past cultures for racism. If you do not believe in God, you cannot rationally judge any culture for racism except your own.

Becca's BookoplAthon Replace 25 and Wrap Up

So I read my final book for Becca’s BookoplAthon, and it was Let Me Hear a Rhyme! Yeah, I’ve officially finished my BookoplAthon TBR! Whoot! And just in time, too, because tomorrow I start my roll as I got round!

My Reading Journey:

Emerald Blaze by Ilona Andrews
Prompt Fulfilled: Nature of the Cover A
Started On: September
Finished On: September 1st, 11:09 AM
Pages Read: 391

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Prompt Fulfilled: Nature of the Cover B
Started On: September 2nd
Finished On: September 2nd, 11:53 AM

Pages Read: 384

The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson

Prompt Fulfilled: Becca’s Rec 1
Started On: September 2nd
Finished On: September 2nd, 10:54 PM

Pages Read: 647

Harrow the Ninth by Tasmyn Muir
Prompt Fulfilled: LGBTQ+ Rep 1
Started On: September 4th
Finished On: September 4th, 8:00 PM
Pages Read: 512

Chaos by Iris Johansen
Prompt Fulfilled: Light Cover 1
Started On: September 5th
Finished On: September 5th, 10:05 PM
Pages Read: 416

The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
Prompt Fulfilled: Big Book
Started On: September 6th
Finished On: September 6th, 11:36 PM
Pages Read: 698

The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
Prompt Fulfilled: Light Cover 2
Started On: September 7th
Finished On: September 7th, 10:09 PM
Pages Read: 893

Teen Killers Club by Lily Sparks
Prompt Fulfilled: Community Shelf 1
Started On: September 8th
Finished On: September 8th, 8:4 PM
Pages Read: 236

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
Prompt Fulfilled: Dark Cover
Started On: September 12th
Finished On: September 12th, 11:32 PM
Pages Read: 560

No Offense by Meg Cabot
Prompt Fulfilled: 5 Star Prediction
Started On: September 13th
Finished On: September 13th, 1:07 PM
Pages Read: 384

Infinity Son by Adam Silvera
Prompt Fulfilled: TBR Game
Started On: September 13th
Finished On: September 13th, 11:23 PM
Pages Read: 368

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire
Prompt Fulfilled: Small Book
Started On: September 14th
Finished On: September 14th, 10:05 AM
Pages Read: 208

Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson
Prompt Fulfilled: Read a Sad Book
Started On: September 16th
Finished On: September 16th, 10:03 PM
Pages Read: 400

Death Masks by Jim Butcher
Prompt Fulfilled: Water on Cover
Started On: September 17th
Finished On: September 17th, 1:46 PM
Pages Read: 285

Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Prompt Fulfilled: Becca’s Rec 3
Started On: September 18th
Finished On: September 18th, 10:23 PM
Pages Read: 400

Faith by Julie Murphy
Prompt Fulfilled: LGBTQ+ Rep 2
Started On: September 24th
Finished On: September 24th, 11:22 PM
Pages Read: 352

Night of the Dragon by Julie Kagawa
Prompt Fulfilled: Highest Rated
Started On: September 24th
Finished On: September 24th, 11:06 PM
Pages Read: 384

Leopard’s Wrath by Christine Feehan
Prompt Fulfilled: Community Shelf Card 2
Started On: September 25th
Finished On: September 25th, 11:25 PM
Pages Read: 412

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen
Prompt Fulfilled: POC Rep A
Started On: September 26th
Finished On: September 26th, 11:24 PM
Pages Read: 432

You Were Never Here by Kathleen Peacock
Prompt Fulfilled: Set in the Present
Started On: September 27th
Finished On: September 27th, 4:23 PM
Pages Read: 400

The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason
Prompt Fulfilled: TBR Vet
Started On: September 27th
Finished On: September 27th, 8:07 PM
Pages Read: 380

Unnatural Magic by C.M. Waggoner
Prompt Fulfilled: Chance Card
Started On: September 28th
Finished On: September 28th, 11:49 PM
Pages Read: 416

The First True Thing by Claire Needell
Prompt Fulfilled: Lowest Rated
Started On: September 29th
Finished On: September 29th, 6:11 PM
Pages Read: 256

You by Caroline Kepnes
Prompt Fulfilled: Becca’s Rec 2
Started On: September 29th
Finished On: September 29th, 10:21 PM
Pages Read: 432

Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson
Prompt Fulfilled: POC Rep B
Started On: September 30th
Finished On: September 30th, 12:18 PM
Pages Read: 400

Prompts Left: None left!
Read: 25
Pages Read: 10653