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Engaging NatureEnvironmentalism and the Political Theory Canon$
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Peter F. Cannavò and Joseph H. Lane Jr.

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262028059

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262028059.001.0001

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Jean-Jacques Rousseau: The Disentangling of Green Paradoxes

Jean-Jacques Rousseau: The Disentangling of Green Paradoxes

(p.133) 7 Jean-Jacques Rousseau: The Disentangling of Green Paradoxes
Engaging Nature

Joseph H. Lane

The MIT Press

Joseph H. Lane Jr. argues that although the works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau individually articulate themes that recur in subsequent environmentalist thought, only through recognizing the interdependence between Rousseau’s works can we ascertain his most important contributions to green theory. Rousseau’s works appear to offer self-contradictory understandings of the relationship between nature and politics, but Rousseau was explicating the complexity of that relationship as it was being transformed by the Enlightenment and the emergence of modernity. Rousseau’s writings articulate a complex and interdependent system of thought that explores the paradoxes inherent in modern life, and as such, may help us understand both the promise and the limits of enshrining “Nature” as the value to be preserved in our efforts to temper and control the destructive powers of modern technologies. Rousseau’s writings are essential to understanding the complex interrelationships among various strands of modern environmentalism and our prospects for controlling humanity’s impacts on the natural world.

Keywords:   Jean-Jacques Rousseau, On the Social Contract (Rousseau), Discourse on the Arts and Sciences (Rousseau), Discourse on the Origins of Inequality (Rousseau), Reveries of the Solitary Walker (Rousseau), Emile (Rousseau), environmental political theory, nature and politics, modernity

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