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The Idea of Marriage in Modern Political Thought
By Scott Yenor
With crisp prose and intellectual fairness, Family Politics traces the treatment of the family in the philosophies of leading political thinkers of the modern world. What is family? What is marriage? In an effort to address contemporary society’s disputes over the meanings of these human social institutions, Scott Yenor carefully examines a roster of major and unexpected modern political philosophers—from Locke and Rousseau to Hegel and Marx to Freud and Beauvoir. He lucidly presents how these individuals developed an understanding of family in order to advance their goals of political and social reform. Through this exploration, Yenor unveils the effect of modern liberty on this foundational institution and argues that the quest to pursue individual autonomy has undermined the nature of marriage and jeopardizes its future.
1 Nature, Marital Unity, and Contract in Modern Political Thought 1
Part I: The Ballast of Nature and the Ends of the Family
2 Locke and the Invention of the Modern Family
3 Rousseau and the Romance of Family Life
Part II: The Moving Ballast of History
4 Hegel's Modern Marital Unity: More Than a Contract, Less Than a Sacrament
5 In Hegel's Shadow: French Sociologists and Positivist Defenses of the Family
Part III: Liberation and the Movement toward the Family's End
6 The City and the Soul Mate: Mill's Late Liberal Vision
7 Marx, Engels, and the Abolition of the Family
8 Freud, Russell, and the Liberated Family
9 Feminism and the Family
Part IV: The Old Family and a New Nature
10 Positivism Supplemented: Anatomy, Evolution, and the Family
11 A Second Sailing?: Recovering Marital Unity and the Purposes of the Family
12 What Is to Be Thought?: Tensions and Lessons
"Indispensable. While engaging the deepest and most vexing contemporary moral and political issues, Yenor avoids polemics, presenting opposing arguments in the best possible light while developing a distinctive position that is immediately relevant to vital contemporary debates."
—Ralph C. Hancock, Professor of Political Science, Brigham Young University, and President of the John Adams Center for the Study of Faith, Philosophy and Public Affairs
"... an important contribution to the recovery of the family's meaning. [Yenor] argues convincingly that the framework provided by modern political thought does not provide sufficient means for our doing so."
—Perspectives on Political Science (2011, 40:3)
“If an author is to be credited for wading into hotly contested waters with interpretations and arguments meant to invigorate an entirely new conversation about a perennial and perennially controversial topic, then Scott Yenor deserves a great deal of credit indeed."
—Micah Watson, American Review of Politics, Union University
"Scott Yenor's book...tackles an incredibly ambitious task in its aim to understand marriage in political thought over the last several centuries."
—Alison Lefkovitz, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Humanities and Social Sciences Online
"Wonderful! This is an amazing achievement, blending sociological expertise, theological savvy, and profound spiritual sensitivities."
—Richard J. Mouw, President and Professor of Christian Philosophy, Fuller Theological Seminary
"[Yenor] covers a wide range of the most important modern philosophic, political, social scientific, and religious works on the family. Few treatments of the foundational problems of the family are this thorough or deep.... Family Politics provides a good starting point for all those who seek to grapple with the problem of the modern family."
—Claremont Review of Books (2011, 11:4)
"Family Politics is the pursuit of political philosophy at its best. Enthusiastically recommended not only to scholars but to all who care about the fate of the family in the modern world."
—Carson Holloway, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Nebraska, and author of The Way of Life: John Paul II and the Challenge of Liberal Modernity
Scott Yenor is Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the American Founding Initiative at Boise State University. He lives in Boise, Idaho.