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The Parent as Citizen_x000B_

The Parent as Citizen_x000B_: A Democratic Dilemma

Brian Duff
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    The Parent as Citizen_x000B_
    Book Description:

    The Parent as Citizen reveals how efforts to make the experience of parenthood inform citizenship contribute to the most persistent problems in modern democracy and democratic theory. Brian Duff explains how influential theories of democratic citizenship rely on the experience of parenthood to help individuals rise to the challenges of politics, and demonstrates that this reliance has unintended consequences.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7507-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION: The Parent and the Citizen
    (pp. 1-28)

    It was an argument over the political significance of parenthood that gave birth to liberal-democratic political theory. When Sir Robert Filmer offered Western political thought’s last great defense of kingly sovereignty, he based his claims entirely on the monarch’s rights as father.¹ John Locke perceived great dangers in Filmer’s poor thinking about parenthood, warning readers against Filmer’s “OmnipotentFatherhood, which can serve for nothing but to unsettle and destroy all the Lawful Governments in the World, and to Establish in their room Disorder, Tyranny, and Usurpation.” Responding to Filmer inTwo Treatises on Government, Locke shattered sovereign power into as...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Monsters in the Garden: Rousseau on Politics and Parental Virtue
    (pp. 29-68)

    The first thing jean-jacques rousseau ever did was kill his mother. Suzanne Bernard Rousseau passed away when her son was ten days old, from complications resulting from his birth. The sentiments of Rousseau’s father, Isaac, helped ensure that the son would feel the loss deeply. “He seemed to see her again in me, but could never forget that I had robbed him of her; he never kissed me that I did not know by his sighs and his convulsive embrace that there was a bitter grief mingled with his affection. . . . ‘Ah’ he would say with a groan;...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Tragedy of Birth: Nietzsche on Parenthood and Political Contest
    (pp. 69-114)

    As nietzsche descended into madness, he insisted that there had been only one true love in his life—his love for Cosima Wagner. That love had been born twenty years earlier during an evening at Wagner’s home, the night when a very pregnant Cosima and her future husband Richard first sat down with young Friedrich Nietzsche and really got to know him. At the end of the conversation, Cosima went upstairs and gave birth. The Wagners believed Nietzsche’s presence in their home that particular evening was a good omen for both the newborn child and the newborn friendship.¹

    In the...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Troubled Inheritance: Richard Rorty and the Metaphysics of the Child
    (pp. 115-154)

    As a teenager, the American philosopher Richard Rorty liked to hike through the mountains of northwest New Jersey searching for wild orchids. On these hikes, Rorty began to invest deep significance into an intoxicating admixture of sexuality, evolutionary superiority, and the avoidance of pain. Just being alone in nature helped Rorty avoid pain, since bullies from his high school often beat him up when they could find him. It was the orchids that added the other ingredients. As Rorty put it,

    I was not quite sure why those orchids were so important, but I was convinced that they were. ....

  8. CHAPTER 4 Deadbeat Citizens: Cornel West and the Parent as Prophet
    (pp. 155-200)

    As a youngster, Cornel West beat up a pregnant woman. West had refused to salute the flag because of his anger over America’s racial injustice, and when his teacher tried to force him, finally slapping him, he lost his cool. Once he calmed down, West was relieved to find out that “the baby was fine.”¹ But the incident prefigured a tension that would reemerge in the mature West’s political thought. Parenthood has come to play a complex role in West’s efforts to balance hope for the future with an acknowledgment of America’s tragic past and problematic present. In his quest...

  9. CONCLUSION: Exposing the Citizen as Parent
    (pp. 201-226)

    It is not difficult to imagine an ideal way that the politics of virtue and the politics of contest might coexist in democratic notions of citizenship. Citizens would feel responsible to develop and articulate deeply felt and earnestly believed notions of the good as well as ideas about the right direction for the political community. But citizens would also understand that their notions of the good and the right are only one perspective among many and that these ideas are subject to the requirements of democratic debate. They would be open to seeing things from other perspectives and to revising...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 227-276)
  11. Index
    (pp. 277-287)