The Art of Being Free
Poulos, James Gregory
In his “new political science…for a world itself quite new,” Alexis de Tocqueville wagers that sociology and political theology can reveal a grounded path forward for democratic peoples. While political democracy has discernible qualities, and human nature exerts continued force, it is the character of democratic life that defines the character of the individuals and groups that constitute democratic peoples. Tocqueville sets out to show that human anthropology, under the unique pressures of democratic life, manifests as a spiritual restlessness and disquiet. The risk this poses to political democracy and felicitous order among democratic peoples is that what begins as restlessness and disquiet becomes a deeper malaise wherein the only possible spiritual equilibrium is a sort of deliberate paralysis or self-enclosure. While soberminded, Tocqueville's analysis indicates that democratic peoples can bear far more strain in avoiding deep malaise than it may at first appear. Freedom from that consuming burden is an art that, however difficult, may be learned and sustained through experience. This central contention is tested and compared against two types of alternate theorizing: first, from fellow nineteenth-century philosophers of democratic life (Nietzsche and Emerson); second, from later twentieth-century sociologists of democratic malaise (Lasch and Rieff). The conclusion of this inquiry suggests that, although Tocqueville's contention remains strongly argued, the risk identified in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century alternate, that of an individual and collective loss of nerve, has grown to a point Tocqueville might worry is a mistake there is no longer adequate time to correct painlessly.
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Stablein, Lee (Georgetown University, 2013)I will argue that there is an incongruity between God's description of man's free will in his Book 3 speech, and the exercise of that freedom in the subsequent poetry. This incongruity is the result of the difference between ...