Rousseau and the Problem of Human Relations

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9780271071008: Rousseau and the Problem of Human Relations

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.

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About the Author:

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

Review:

“John Warner is among the few scholars to have carefully analyzed Rousseau's understanding of human relationships, and in Rousseau and the Problem of Human Relations he has done so with great sensitivity and keen intelligence. Warner reveals with admirable clarity how Rousseau both inspires his readers to long for wholeness in harmonious relationships with others but also intimates the tragic impossibility of ever truly satisfying such longings.”

—Joseph Reisert, Colby College



“Rousseau combines two positions that seem to be at odds with each other: he insists that by nature humans are asocial, but he claims that—precisely because of this—politics is radically important. The issue of how humans relate to each other is central to his thought. Warner investigates different relations (pity, family, friendship, etc.) and how each contributes to political life. He has defined his issue clearly and executes his plan well. He has a fine sense of when scholars have gone astray by emphasizing one side of Rousseau's thought at the expense of the other. He demonstrates that, for Rousseau, political and social problems are permanent and intransigent.”

—Christopher Kelly, Boston College



“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



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Book Description Pennsylvania State University Press, United States, 2016. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780271071008

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Book Description Pennsylvania State University Press, United States, 2016. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780271071008

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