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Tocqueville between Two Worlds: The Making of a Political and Theoretical Life . contemplative or theoretical life was essentially a life of inaction; the idea that.
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His work is used to validate almost every theoretical and partisan current and is appealed to by politicians who wish to establish their intellectual credentials. There is a great deal of truth to this interpretation. But a wide range of commentators have brought another, deeper, and more disconcerting Tocqueville to our attention. This Tocqueville is much more ambivalent about democratic modernity.

Tocqueville Between Two Worlds: The Making of a Theoretical and Political Life

As the distinguished political theorist Sheldon S. Wolin suggests, in his impressive if flawed new study, Tocqueville Between Two Worlds: For Tocqueville, the world of inequality, of authoritative command, was dead and beyond all hope of revival. And yet, for all its imperfections, the old regime provided an image of human grandeur that was one crucial ingredient for judging the emerging democratic order.

He cared deeply about politics and was a player in the ideological drama of his time.


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In between political engagements he wrote three classic works of political reflection, Democracy in America published in two volumes in and , his Recollections written in and and published posthumously over forty years later , and The Old Regime and the French Revolution published in Why the attraction of this aging New Leftist for the Norman aristocrat whose endorsement of the emerging democratic order was tempered by a sober ambivalence?

For Wolin, democratic politics begins as a protest against exclusionary politics. For his part, Wolin explicitly denies that there is any standard for judging the choices of human beings apart from or above their own wills. He shows us how Tocqueville used Recollections to reexamine his political commitments in light of the revolutions of and the threat of socialism.

Project MUSE - Tocqueville between Two Worlds

He portrays The Old Regime and the French Revolution as a work of theoretical history designed to throw light on the Bonapartist despotism he saw around him. Throughout, Wolin highlights the tensions between Tocqueville's ideas and his activities as a politician, arguing that--despite his limited political success--Tocqueville was ''perhaps the last influential theorist who can be said to have truly cared about political life.

In the course of the book, Wolin also shows that Tocqueville struggled with many of the forces that constrain politics today, including the relentless advance of capitalism, of science and technology, and of state bureaucracy. He concludes that Tocqueville's insights and anxieties about the impotence of politics in a ''postaristocratic'' era speak directly to the challenges of our own ''postdemocratic'' age.

A monumental new study of Tocqueville, this is also a rich and provocative work about the past, the present, and the future of democratic life in America and abroad. Best known for his groundbreaking study Politics and Vision , Wolin has been an influential political philosopher for over 40 years.

In this massive masterwork, he examines the "theoretical Sign in Create an account. Princeton University Press There is no grander topic for us today, and Wolin's treatment is penetrating, thorough, and authoritative. This is a major work of political theory.

Political Theory in Social and Political Philosophy. Find it on Scholar. Request removal from index.

HISTORY OF IDEAS - Capitalism

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In this Book

The Theory of What is Great. Myth and Political Impressionism. The Spectacle of America. Majority Rule or Majority Politics. Socialism and the Crisis of the Political. The Culture of the Political: The Image of Democracy. Tragic Hero, Popular Mask. The Democratization of Culture.