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MEN, CITIZENS AND THE WOMEN WHO LOVE THEM: LOVE AND MARRIAGE IN ROUSSEAU'S EMILE

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Marriage is the subject of enduring controversy, and contemporary debates are in many ways the product of eighteenth-century attempts to redefine the term. With this in mind, I inquire after one of the Enlightenment era's most influential attempts to reinterpret the significance of marriage: that of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Relying in particular on Emile, I argue Rousseauan marriage seeks to directly instantiate the human good by effecting a comprehensive connection between spouses, but necessarily fails due to the basic instability of the sexual passion. This 'tragic' view of marriage contradicts two dominant interpretive approaches and requires a reinterpretation of Rousseau's understanding of the relationship between the household and the polity.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2016

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