POLC73 – Week 6 – 16/10/2012
Tocqueville – in sum
- Individualism (makes everyone the same; only self-concern) versus individuality (rooted in
aristocracy; uniqueness. Do not need to worry about how others see you, therefore don't need to
- Liberty versus equality: The capacity to be free rests on individuality, which is only possible in
a hierarchical society.
- Tocqueville holds a very tragic disposition on democracy. Some good and some bad.
-Aristocracy versus democratic values
- “It is natural to suppose that not the particular prosperity of the few, but the greater
well-being of all, is most pleasing in the sight of the Creator and Preserver of Men.
What seems to me decay is thus in His eyes progress; what pains me is acceptable to
Him. Equality may be less elevated, but it is more just, and in its justice lies greatness
Tocqueville – Key Concepts for Review
- Equality of conditions
- Democratic despotism
- Tyranny of the majority
- Ways of preventing the degeneration of democracy.
Thoreau (1817-1862)– Introduction and Background
- Most definitions of civil disobedience see it as disobeying a law for the purpose of changing it
by persuading others of its injustice through performance.
- “Civil” signals non-violence, and recognizes the legitimacy of the system as a whole.
- Most famous for Walden about his experience living on Walden Pond (on Emerson's land).
- His journals and the book based on them describes his time there as an “experiment of living”
to end with “immanent transcendence”.
- Immanent transcendence seems contradictory: the first coming from within, the second from
- Historical context: the end of the frontier, Civil War, Mexican-American war, industrialization.
- The US was a sparse and wild country still. But by the time he dies there is industrialization