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The Fragility of Freedom

Tocqueville on Religion, Democracy, and the American Future

In this fresh interpretation of Tocqueville’s thought, Joshua Mitchell explores the dynamic interplay between religion and politics in American democracy.

Focusing on Democracy in America, The Fragility of Freedom examines Tocqueville’s key works and argues that his analysis of democracy is ultimately rooted in an Augustinian view of human psychology. As much a work of political philosophy as of religion, The Fragility of Freedom argues for the importance of a political theology that recognizes moderation.

"An intelligent and sharply drawn portrait of a conservative Toqueville."—Anne C. Rose, Journal of American History

"I recommend this book as one of a very few to approach seriously the sources of Tocqueville’s intellectual and moral greatness."—Peter Augustine Lawler, Journal of Politics

"Mitchell ably places Democracy in America in the long conversation of Western political and theological thought."—Wilfred M. McClay, First Things

"Learned and thought-provoking."—Peter Berkowitz, New Republic

288 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1995

Philosophy: Philosophy of Society

Political Science: Classic Political Thought

Table of Contents

Chapter One
1. The Augustinian Self
2. Antidotes to the Irrationalities of the Augustinian Self
3. Of the Embodiment and Disembodiment of Thought
4. Circularity of Cause and Effect
5. Of the Spillover Effects of One Sphere upon Another
6. Of Motion and Boundaries
7. Of New Beginnings and American Exceptionalism
Chapter Two
The Augustinian Self
1. Augustine and the Errancy from God
2. Hobbes and the Problem of Pride
3. Rousseau and the Errancy from Nature
4. Tocqueville and the Democratic Soul
5. The Enduring Power of the Augustinian Self: Nietzsche and the Democratic Age
Chapter Three
The Politics of Competition
1. The Purpose of Politics
2. Of Scale and Participation
3. The Interrelation of Political and Economic Participation
4. Of Associations
5. Of Newspapers: The Solution to the Problem of Site and Authority
6. Of Moderation and Motion: Mother Nature and Father Industriousness
7. When Boundaries Are Transgressed
8. Of Empire
Chapter Four
Christianity and Democracy
1. The Progress of History and Its Arrests: The Depth of Identity
2. The Problem of Difference in a Democracy
3. Christianity as Palliative for Envy and Difference
4. The Indirect Effects of Christianity upon Democracy
5. Of Long-Term Goals
6. The Right Relationship between Politics and Religion
7. The Permanence of Religion
Chapter Five
1. The New Political Science
2. Asking Too Much of Government, Asking Too Much of "the World"
3. What Is to Be Done?
4. Concluding Remarks

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