October 18, 2011

Tocqueville's American (and Cartesian) Democracy

Alexis de Tocqueville
Did you know about Tocqueville’s remarkable insight that the Americans are Cartesians without having read a word of Descartes? But “the Cartesian method is also the democratic method, and it’s that democratic method that keeps Americans from reading the words of philosophers — Descartes or anyone else.” Read this and much more in an introduction to Tocqueville (.pdf) and his “contribution to the American reconciliation of greatness and justice in a true understanding of human liberty,” by Peter A. Lawler (published in LO SGUARDO – RIVISTA DI FILOSOFIA, N. 7, 2011 (III) – LIBERALISMO E DEMOCRAZIA). The author’s purpose is “to show the similarity between Tocqueville’s and Percy’s [the American Catholic novelist/philosopher Walker Percy] analysis of American disorientation, of a people confused by not knowing the whole truth about who they are and what they’re supposed to do.”

Via Postmodern Conservative.