Démocratie et grandeur humaine chez Tocqueville

Authors: Bouchard, Éric
Advisor: Knee, Philip
Abstract: In 1831, the French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to the heart of the United States of America in order to shed light upon the future of democracy. Before starting out on this adventure, he was already certain that social equality was inevitable. Even though, in his young eyes, the progression of the democratic social state was a “providential fact”, he became worried when he realized that there was a certain ambivalence concerning the political direction that the movement was taking. A democratic social state does not necessary lead to a liberal movement; its opposite, despotism, must seriously be taken into consideration. As such, America became his choice destination for observing all the democratic potential it had to offer, leading him to write his masterpiece Democracy in America (1835-1840), in which he shares his discoveries. Social equality opens an immense breadth of possibilities for human growth, but, at the same time, also presents a risk of dehumanization. In order to get the best out of democracy, humankind must avoid falling into apathy towards politics. Giving up one’s political responsibility is like abdicating one’s freedom and, as such, all hope for greatness. In his work, Tocqueville provides a true explanation of democracy, with all of its most secret orientations. He also provides measures that counterweight this nature, allowing for the fragile equilibrium to be maintained. In this manner, Tocqueville presents himself as the defender of human freedom and dignity, which he believes to be truly threatened. Does social equality allow for human greatness? If so, what conditions are required to deploy such greatness? Nearly two centuries later, are Tocqueville’s words still pertinent? In light of Tocqueville’s thoughts, which were fed by his discoveries on American soil, this dissertation attempts to demonstrate that democracy and human greatness are not incompatible.
Document Type: Mémoire de maîtrise
Issue Date: 2019
Open Access Date: 22 October 2019
Permalink: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11794/37033
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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