Men and Citizens: A Study of Rousseau's Social Theory (Cambridge Studies in the History and Theory of Politics)
In this volume, John Warner grapples with one of Jean-Jacques Rousseauâs 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 unsolvableâthat 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 Rousseauâs thought on three distinct types of relationshipsâsexual love, friendship, and civil or political associationâas 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 Rousseauâs critical act.
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