Democratic Pantheism in the Political Theory of Alexis de Tocqueville

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Description:

According to Alexis de Tocqueville, humanity is entering a new age of political and social equality, a new epoch in which the human race has no historical example or experience. As a result, he holds humanity's future will be largely determined by the political and moral choices made in this transitional time. For Tocqueville, the new egalitarian era is a forgone conclusion, but for him, the pressing question is whether humanity will choose a future in which it enchains itself to new forms of tyranny, or, whether the human race can establish the political and moral institutions designed to assure human freedom and dignity. In Tocqueville's view, liberty or slavery are the two choices modern men and women have in front of them, and it is the intent of this dissertation to explore Tocqueville's warning in regard to the latter choice. Tocqueville warns us that modern democratic peoples must beware of the moral and political effects of a new type of political philosophy, a political theory he terms democratic pantheism. Democratic pantheism is a philosophic doctrine that treats egalitarianism as a "religion" in which all social and political striving is directed toward realizing a providentially ordained strict equality of conditions. To attain this end, modern humanity gives up its right to self-government to an all-powerful "representative" state that will unconsciously (and as a result, unjustly) force equality on unequal human beings. Because this philosophy informs the core "soul" of a pantheistic social state, the vast majority of individuals are blissfully unaware that their humanity is diminished and their freedom is lost. The effect is a political and intellectual torpor wherein democratic citizens fall prey to a deterministic and insipid existence; and any thoughts of true independence and freedom of action are eventually extinguished--all due to the unknowing acceptance of a hidden social and political philosophy.

Creator(s): Bearry, Brian Anthony
Creation Date: May 2006
Partner(s):
UNT Libraries
Collection(s):
UNT Theses and Dissertations
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Past 30 days: 26
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Publisher Info:
Publisher Name: University of North Texas
Place of Publication: Denton, Texas
Date(s):
  • Creation: May 2006
  • Digitized: April 22, 2008
Description:

According to Alexis de Tocqueville, humanity is entering a new age of political and social equality, a new epoch in which the human race has no historical example or experience. As a result, he holds humanity's future will be largely determined by the political and moral choices made in this transitional time. For Tocqueville, the new egalitarian era is a forgone conclusion, but for him, the pressing question is whether humanity will choose a future in which it enchains itself to new forms of tyranny, or, whether the human race can establish the political and moral institutions designed to assure human freedom and dignity. In Tocqueville's view, liberty or slavery are the two choices modern men and women have in front of them, and it is the intent of this dissertation to explore Tocqueville's warning in regard to the latter choice. Tocqueville warns us that modern democratic peoples must beware of the moral and political effects of a new type of political philosophy, a political theory he terms democratic pantheism. Democratic pantheism is a philosophic doctrine that treats egalitarianism as a "religion" in which all social and political striving is directed toward realizing a providentially ordained strict equality of conditions. To attain this end, modern humanity gives up its right to self-government to an all-powerful "representative" state that will unconsciously (and as a result, unjustly) force equality on unequal human beings. Because this philosophy informs the core "soul" of a pantheistic social state, the vast majority of individuals are blissfully unaware that their humanity is diminished and their freedom is lost. The effect is a political and intellectual torpor wherein democratic citizens fall prey to a deterministic and insipid existence; and any thoughts of true independence and freedom of action are eventually extinguished--all due to the unknowing acceptance of a hidden social and political philosophy.

Degree:
Level: Doctoral
Discipline: Political Science
Language(s):
Subject(s):
Keyword(s): Tocqueville | democracy | pantheism | America
Contributor(s):
Partner:
UNT Libraries
Collection:
UNT Theses and Dissertations
Identifier:
  • OCLC: 70286816 |
  • ARK: ark:/67531/metadc5234
Resource Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Format: Text
Rights:
Access: Use restricted to UNT Community
License: Copyright
Holder: Bearry, Brian Anthony
Statement: Copyright is held by the author, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.