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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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Tocqueville and the Protestantism of His Time

Tocqueville and the Protestantism of His Time

The Insistent Reality of the Collective

(p.129) 7 Tocqueville and the Protestantism of His Time

Lucien Jaume

, Arthur Goldhammer
Princeton University Press

For Tocqueville, Protestantism was the historical and cultural source of modern political democracy, He believed that, in social terms, it contributed to the exercise of individual judgment that is political democracy's indispensable complement. Yet his recognition of Protestantism's due did not lead him to accept the sociological axioms or epistemology of such leading Protestant writers as Alexandre Vinet and Benjamin Constant. This chapter considers examples of texts from the two Swiss authors, who, despite being Swiss, influenced the way in which Democracy in America was read because all cultivated French readers were familiar with them. In 1828, Vinet received a French award for an essay on freedom of religion from the Société de la Morale Chrétienne. By contrast, Constant rattled his audience and seemed to confirm that “Coppet liberalism” was a foreign import.

Keywords:   Alexis de Tocqueville, Protestantism, Protestants, Alexandre Vinet, Benjamin Constant, Democracy in America, modern political democracy

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