Rousseau's theory of value and the case of women
In Emile, Rousseau claims that the value of women ought to be determined by the opinion that men have of them. Women, contrary to commodities and men, escape what I call Rousseau's “dual theory of value.” According to the latter, the apparent value of commodities and men is determined by opinion and either unrelated or inverse to “real value,” which is assessed through objective criteria. The dual theory of value is the basis of Rousseau's critique of commercial society. However, women warrant an exception to this theory. As women's apparent worth is their real worth, women are the unique object in the world that ought to be subjected to the rule of opinion, which is the rule of commercial market that Rousseau so violently rejects. This article investigates why this is the case and locates three functions to the unique position of women in Rousseau's theory of value.
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