Rousseau and the Problem of Human Relations

Hardcover | March 14, 2016

byJohn M. Warner

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Among Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s chief preoccupations was the problem of self-interest implicit in all social relationships. A person with divided loyalties (i.e., 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, but he also 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 thought. 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.

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Among Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s chief preoccupations was the problem of self-interest implicit in all social relationships. A person with divided loyalties (i.e., 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 ne...

John M. Warner is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Kansas State University.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:272 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:March 14, 2016Publisher:Penn State University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0271071001

ISBN - 13:9780271071008

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments

List of Abbreviations

Prologue

1 Rousseau’s Theory of Human Relations

2 Social Longing and Moral Perfection

3 Pity and Human Weakness

4 Romantic Love in Emile

5 Romantic Love in Julie

6 Friendship, Virtue, and Moral Authority

7 The Ecology of Justice

8 The Sociology of Wholeness

Epilogue

Notes

Bibliography

Index

Editorial Reviews

“This 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. . . . 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.”—W. J. Coats, Choice