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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:
In this volume, John Warner grapples with one of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's chief preoccupations: the problem of self-interest implicit in all social relationships. Not only did Rousseau never solve this problem, Warner argues, but he also believed it was fundamentally unsolvable--that social relationships could never restore wholeness to a self-interested human being.
This engaging study is founded on two basic but important questions: what do we want out of human relationships, and are we able to achieve what we are after? Warner traces his answers through the contours of Rousseau's thought on three distinct types of relationships--sexual love, friendship, and civil or political association--as well as alternate interpretations of Rousseau, such as that of the neo -Kantian Rawlsian school . The result is an insightful exploration of the way Rousseau inspires readers to imbue social relations with purpose and meaning, only to show the impossibility of reaching wholeness through such relationships.
While Rousseau may raise our hopes only to dash them, Rousseau and the Problem of Human Relations demonstrates that his ambitious failure offers unexpected insight into the human condition and into the limits of Rousseau's critical act.
Includes bibliographical references and indexes.
Rousseau's theory of human relations -- Social longing and moral perfection -- Pity and human weakness -- Romantic love in Emile -- Romantic love in Julie -- Friendship, virtue, and moral authority -- The ecology of justice -- The sociology of wholeness.
Self-interest in social relationships preoccupied Jean-Jacques Rousseau. A person divided between himself and others couldn't achieve wholeness. Warner traces Rousseau's argument via three distinct types of relationships, and he concludes that Rousseau's failure to recognize the good in human associations is deliberate, self-conscious, and tragic. This title was made Open Access by libraries from around the world through Knowledge Unlatched.
Among Jean-Jacques Rousseau's chief preoccupations was the problem of self-interest implicit in all social relationships. A person with divided loyalties (id est, to both himself and his cohorts) was, in Rousseau's thinking, a divided person. According to John Warner's Rousseau and the Problem of Human Relations, not only did Rousseau never solve this problem, he believed it was fundamentally unsolvable: social relationships could never restore wholeness to a self-interested human being. Warner traces his argument through the contours of Rousseau's thought on three distinct types of relationships-sexual love, friendship, and civil or political association. Warner concludes that none of these, whether examined individually or together, provides a satisfactory resolution to the problem of human dividedness located at the center of Rousseau's thinking. In fact, concludes Warner, Rousseau's failure to obtain anything hopeful from human associations is deliberate, self-conscious, and revelatory of a tragic conception of human relations. Thus Rousseau raises our hopes only to dash them.
Also issued in print and PDF version.
Knowledge Unlatched 000096 Round 2
Mode of access: Internet via World Wide Web.
Table of contents provided by Syndetics
- Acknowledgments (p. ix)
- List of Abbreviations (p. xii)
- Prologue (p. 1)
- 1 Rousseau's Theory of Human Relations (p. 5)
- 2 Social Longing and Moral Perfection (p. 33)
- 3 Pity and Human Weakness (p. 60)
- 4 Romantic Love in Emile (p. 87)
- 5 Romantic Love in Julie (p. 110)
- 6 Friendship, Virtue, and Moral Authority (p. 136)
- 7 The Ecology of Justice (p. 162)
- 8 The Sociology of Wholeness (p. 187)
- Epilogue (p. 216)
- Notes (p. 229)
- Bibliography (p. 232)
- Index (p. 238)
Reviews provided by Syndetics
CHOICE ReviewThis well-written, well-researched book represents an interpretation of Rousseau's oeuvre from the standpoint of the longing for "wholeness," or unity, in the asocial human species, rather than primarily freedom, or moral autonomy, for example. It tries to show that various human relationships--familial, romantic, political--all fall short of attaining this satisfaction for Rousseau; by implication, his view of the human situation is "tragic" rather than (one supposes) simply being an empathic replication of the tensions in his own eccentric personality, although this latter possibility is not addressed. The best parts of the book are the author's engagement with other interpretations of Rousseau, especially the judicious discussion of the problems with the neo-Kantian-Rawlsian school of Rousseau criticism. One wishes the author had engaged with more discriminating criticism, such as Arthur Melzer's view (1990) that Rousseau's apparent contradictions are a rhetorical attempt to give just the right amount of "ideological ammunition" to various social forces to produce political balance, or that of John Charvet (1974), who argues, using close textual analysis, that Rousseau's entire treatment of the "social problem" is ultimately logically incoherent. Recommended for senior undergraduates and graduate students and for Rousseau scholars as well. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. --Wendell J. Coats, Connecticut College
Author notes provided by Syndetics
John M. Warner is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Kansas State University.