London: Printed for A. Hamilton, Jun., and Sold by C. Dilly, G. Robinson, T. Cadell, T. Lewis, J. Walter, and R. Faulder, 1783. First edition. Half calf rebacked to style over contemporary marbled boards, with morocco label to spine. Slight offsetting and some rubbing to boards. Contemporary woman's ownership signature to front pastedown, partially obscured by early armorial bookplate. Later bookplate of John Stephens to foot of front pastedown. Occasional light scattered foxing, largely confined to preliminary and terminal pages; small 1cm snag to pages 237-238 affecting three words but remaining legible, with some paper remnant adhering to page 239; contemporary marginal correction to page 325. Internally else a lovely example. Measuring 210 x 130mm and collating xvi, 325, : complete including terminal errata leaf. A groundbreaking work that has become quite scarce, ESTC records 15 institutions with copies (5 of these in the U.S.). It has appeared only three times at auction, in 1930, 1912, and 1909.
For early feminist philosopher Catharine Macaulay, "education is a philosophical and political preoccupation in its own right, as well as interacting with philosophical questions of morality, social power, theology, truth, and human action. Macaulay's engagements with Hobbes, Burke, and other 18th century scholars lend a particular cast to her theory of education, and influenced Mary Wollstonecraft...indeed, they both focus in particular on the relationships between authority, social power, and gender" (Frazer). A Treatise on the Immutability of Moral Truth has been hailed as the most philosophical and important of Macaulay's writings; it would inform her later work on education as well as Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792) by asserting that "truth is at the heart of virtue, and hence should be at the heart of political and social life" with education free from manipulation or subterfuge being the means of accessing it (Frazer). For Macaulay, "education is a necessary condition for morality itself," and therefore it must be equally accessible to all humans (Frazer). A crucial piece of groundwork for the feminist movements that would follow.
ESTC T67654. (Item #4356)