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TocquevilleThe Aristocratic Sources of Liberty$
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Lucien Jaume

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691152042

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691152042.001.0001

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Democracy as Expectation of Material Pleasures

Democracy as Expectation of Material Pleasures

(p.82) 3 Democracy as Expectation of Material Pleasures

Lucien Jaume

, Arthur Goldhammer
Princeton University Press

This chapter deals with the taste for material pleasures that inevitably accompanies the development of democracy. What Tocqueville indiscriminately referred to as the “taste for material pleasures” or the “passion for well-being” was a phenomenon directly linked to equality, which therefore became characteristic of “democracy.” Here, then, we have a new facet of equality, different from the one encountered previously in decentralized town government in America, where popular sovereignty achieved its concrete realization, and different too from the religion of the Public, in which the citizen is at once strong and weak because he must deal with “increasingly similar and equal men.” Any definition of democracy that does not count pleasure in well-being as its foremost aim will fail to do justice to Tocqueville's thought. What is more remarkable still is the fact that the commentators' embarrassed silence is not a recent phenomenon: no serious analysis of this point can be found even in the first reviews.

Keywords:   Alexis de Tocqueville, material pleasures, Democracy in America, equality

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