Tocqueville's Moral and Political Thought: New Liberalism

Tocqueville's Moral and Political Thought: New Liberalism

Tocqueville's Moral and Political Thought: New Liberalism

Tocqueville's Moral and Political Thought: New Liberalism

Synopsis

The nature of Tocqueville's liberalism is the main focus of this book, in which Ossewaarden argues that Tocqueville seeks to reconcile the Christian & the citizen in the context of modernity, & explores the question of how Tocqueville's work synthesizes religion & politics.

Excerpt

This book has been written as a search for a liberal worldview that is able to reconcile past, present and future. I have deliberately chosen to take Tocqueville as my guide in the study of political thought. I felt attracted to his thoughts on law, politics and morality ever since I was an undergraduate student in the social sciences and the humanities at the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. In this book, I have tried to learn from Tocqueville, I have explored how, according to him, we, as his scholars, are supposed to think and see; and how we are to progress, by his guidance, to make intelligible the nature of practical things. I have not tried to provide an interpretation or an explanation in the light of modern practical philosophy to show his contributions to modern thought. This would have implied that Tocqueville would be the subject of my criticism, which would have meant that I would already have possessed his knowledge. The aim of this work is precisely to acquire his knowledge. The study of Tocqueville, I hope, may foster the growth of wisdom in those who study him. Such wisdom can only be taught by those who have a mind for it, who are willing to accept the teaching. The study of Tocqueville, like the study of any of the great works, can lay a foundation for wisdom, if we are able to accept to listen in accordance with the right pattern of life with which a scholar could hope to develop his own vision of life with an end in mind.

This book is not a treatise in philosophy or a study in the history of ideas: at most, I have put philosophical fragments to work in a historical field of problem as perceived by Tocqueville. In the matter of laying down Tocqueville's view of the modern world and its problems, his biographical history displays a great variety of arrangements, beliefs and hope. But my first impulse as Tocqueville's student has been to resist the displays of his history, the world of appearances, and to search for some underlying cohesion in his political and moral thoughts: a short list of basic ideas, abstracted to some issues that I

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