DC Great Books Reading Group Message Board › Tocqueville Talks :)

Tocqueville Talks :)

user 7685235
Dayton, OH
Post #: 74
Hello All:

I will be unable to attend but I wanted to give some thoughts to orient the discussion so that at least I am there in spirit. :)

We have studied Hegel and his concept of freedom having to do with the unfolding of human spirit under the auspices of the correct structure that would support the full development of human potential.

In contrast, John Stuart Mill's idea of freedom was the ability to do what you will as long as what you do does not impede others. Even bad or potentially subversive ideas should be allowed to come forth because subjugation of such ideas is potentially bad to the development of freedom.

With the coming of the Mill and Tocqueville, we have the topic of what happens with the ever increasing drive for liberty. Mill thought liberty would create more and more liberty. Tocqueville disagrees. He takes the French Revolution as a way to support his ideas.

Think about the French Revolution and the flag that it wielded that spoke of liberty, equality, and fraternity. Is equality and liberty ALWAYS compatible? Tocqueville is anxious about the idea that the drive towards equality threatens individual liberty. Think about how leveling the playing field in a society is NOT always a good thing. (Eg. Nietzsche's ideas). Tocqueville is a product of the Romantic movement where there is a big focus on the individual. The individual matters just as much as the gross aspect of society. How can we solve this problem of the quasi-opposing forces of liberty and equality?

We will learn what Tocqueville's answer to this is.
We have adopted his answer in our own form of government in the United States.
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