POL_SC 1100 Lecture 12: Tocqueville on Religion and Politics

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Political Science
POL_SC 1100
Stephen Seagrave

Tocqueville on Religion and Politics • Mores: “The whole moral and intellectual state of a people” o Religion  Mores  Politics • “There is almost no human action, however particular one supposes it, that doesn’t arise from a very general idea that men have conceived of God, of his relations with the human race, of the nature of their souls, and of their duties toward those like them. One cannot keep these ideas from being the common source from which all the rest flow” – Tocqueville o Tocqueville thinks religion very important to democratic societies • “Despotism can do without faith, but freedom cannot… How could society fail to perish if, while the political bond is relaxed, the moral bond were not tightened? And what makes a people master of itself if it has not submitted to God?” – Tocqueville • Religion  Mores  Politics • Mores Lead to: o Family: Families are important balance to chaos of democracy. Religion encourages family o Attitude toward material well being: Tocqueville believes materialism is a bad thing. Religion attempts to devalue material goods. ▪ “But while man takes pleasure in this honest and legitimate search for well-being, it is to be feared that he will finally lose the use of his most sublime faculties, and that by wishing to improve everything around him, he will finally degrade himself” – Tocqueville o Belief in immortality of soul: This is the most important thing religions provides. This belief of an afterlife. ▪ “Most religions are
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