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Lecture 6

Tocqueville (summary) & Thoreau (Week 6)

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Department
Political Science
Course
POLC73H3
Professor
Margaret Kohn
Semester
Fall

Description
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 conform.) - 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 and beauty.” Tocqueville – Key Concepts for Review - Democracy - 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 without. - 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
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