Democratic Pantheism in the Political Theory of Alexis de Tocqueville

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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 ... continued below

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Bearry, Brian Anthony May 2006.

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  • Bearry, Brian Anthony

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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.

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  • May 2006

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  • May 5, 2008, 2:13 p.m.

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  • June 5, 2008, 2:48 p.m.

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Bearry, Brian Anthony. Democratic Pantheism in the Political Theory of Alexis de Tocqueville, dissertation, May 2006; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc5234/: accessed November 18, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .