By M. R. R. Ossewaarde
This booklet is an interpretation of Alexis de Tocqueville's ethical and political concept and sheds new gentle on his principles about the courting among liberalism and democracy. This research is extremely leading edge because it portrays Tocqueville's liberalism as a synthesis among sleek inspiration and Christian apology.
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Extra info for Tocqueville's Political and Moral Thought: New Liberalism (Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought)
Tocqueville agrees with the Doctrinaires’ conclusion that the development of democratic civilization tends to bring the egalitarian tendencies rooted in human nature to their fulﬁlment. However, he disagrees with their justiﬁcation of democracy as a norm. The Doctrinaires see democracy as a good (and a right) because of its positive consequences in their eyes (such as the progress of science, education and so on), whereas Tocqueville accepts democracy as a providential fact, despite his personal aversion to many features of the democratic reality.
39 The harmony of the temporal world with eternity through the God-given natural laws (since God’s will is valid in both worlds) – a relationship that is ‘indispensable to the daily practice of men’s lives’40 – implies, for Tocqueville, the belief that the virtuous life will be recompensed with eternal bliss while the wicked will be punished on the Day of Judgement. The doctrine of future punishment and reward is, for him, a moral necessity. Tocqueville does not believe that human beings can be cured of their petty passions, but he does believe that they can be persuaded to satisfy their passions by nothing but honest means.
Tocqueville argues that without the protection of established wisdom, reason is a corrupting force. As St Augustine suggests, the devil makes use more often of reason than of error. Individual reason is not powerful enough to give a logical account of what satisﬁes the human understanding. 63 Tocqueville reproaches those who have broken away from their (Christian) traditions, such as the philosophes and the ideologues, who argue that Pure Reason can justify itself. In them, Tocqueville ﬁnds the worldly spirit of criticism, of ﬁnding fault and tearing down traditional wisdom without offering much else that is constructive.
Tocqueville's Political and Moral Thought: New Liberalism (Routledge Studies in Social and Political Thought) by M. R. R. Ossewaarde