"Woman, both real and metaphorical, is at the center of the project to reform politics, which for Rousseau means all human relations," Nicole Fermon asserts in this finely wrought study of how Jean-Jacques Rousseau places the family, women, and love within his political philosophy. Rather than accept conventional conceptual dichotomies of "public" and "private" or "man" and "citizen," Fermon suggests that Rousseau's teachings on the family represent a connecting strand in an overarching philosophy: man not only creates institutions to satisfy his own needs, she writes, "but the needs themselves are crucially formed and transformed by the social setting and the educational experience." Thus the family in general and women in particular play a key role in the Rousseaurean project, as the household becomes "entrusted not only with the reproduction of life and daily necessities, but with the reproduction of sociality itself."
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