Modern Engendering: Critical Feminist Readings in Modern Western Philosophy

By Bat-Ami Bar On | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Women and Rousseau's Democratic Theory: Philosopher
Monsters and Authoritarian Equality

Lynda Lange

This essay is a feminist critique of the political philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and by extension, that of some other reputedly democratic theorists. My critique proceeds, of necessity, from my own interpretation of Rousseau's political thought, which I present briefly. This is especially necessary in the case of Rousseau, since extant interpretations of him are so diverse--he even shares with Hegel the distinction of having both left and right interpretors politically. In my view, Rousseau found in the ancients, and most especially Plato, a way of thinking that grounded his criticism of modern individualism and rational egoism. I concede that Rousseau is a "democratic" thinker, even though he was not democratic with respect to women. As a democratic thinker, he falls in the geneology of those who espouse what may be called "authoritarian equality".

The analysis also proceeds from a feminist critique of dualism. 1 The critique of dualistic forms of thinking--for example, "the political" versus "the personal", "the public" versus "the private", "reason" versus "emotion", "the universal" versus "the particular", etc., and the claim that they are a specifically male form of thinking, has been a strong theme of feminist theory for the past several years. Without addressing the general feminist claim on this occasion, the argument of this paper is meant to show in detail how one particular political philosopher, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, is both a dualistic thinker and fundamentally male biased.

Rousseau's view of the social relations of the sexes, and the necessity for women to play a feminine role within the family, has been presented and analyzed by a number of feminist authors. 2 While my analysis is in some ways complimentary to that of Okin, Lloyd, and Pateman, it differs from them on other points, and adds new points. Rousseau is one of the few political theorists who attempts what feminist theory attempts, which is to understand the connections

-95-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Modern Engendering: Critical Feminist Readings in Modern Western Philosophy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 286

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?