ONLINE SEMINAR
October 26 | Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America

“This book is not precisely in anyone’s camp; in writing it I did not mean either to serve or to contest any party; I undertook to see, not differently, but further than the parties; and while they are occupied by the next day, I wanted to ponder the future.”   – Alexis de Tocqueville

Tocqueville’s most ardent readers have said of Democracy in America that it continues to show us ourselves like no other book about modern democratic social and political life. We will approach our study of Democracy in America not with a historian’s interest in the past, but alive to the possibility that the text could be a means to understand both the weaknesses and strengths, the promises and perils of democracy todaynot only in America, but wherever there is democracy around the world.

In this seminar we’ll be covering the whole, by means of selected parts: we will look closely at sections of Democracy in America in which Tocqueville explores two of his key ideas. First, what he calls “the generative principles” of democracy in America and the factors that prevent a powerful aristocracy from ever establishing itself in the United States. Second, the radical influence that democracy has in shaping intellectual life and sentiments.

This seminar will be read-as-we-go, averaging about 60 pages per week.

When: Four weekly sessions on Mondays at 12:00 p.m. Eastern, starting October 26, 2020

Duration: 2 hours per session

Cost: C$275 plus 13% HST (approx. US$205 plus 13% HST)

Group Size: 12-participant limit

How: We will be using Zoom online meeting software; you will receive instructions on how to download Zoom free after registration. For your privacy, all our Zoom seminars are password-protected and are never recorded.

Select your registration below; please use the Toronto Pursuits credit option only if you are a registered participant of Toronto Pursuits 2020 who wants to put your deposit or previous payment toward an online seminar.

All online seminar payments are nonrefundable.

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Description

LEADER

David Saussy holds a BA and an MA from St John’s College (Santa Fe), and is co-founder and president of Symposium Great Books Institute. He has been leading adult seminars on great books for 14 years. This is the fourth seminar he has offered on Democracy in America.

BOOK

Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville, translated, edited, and with an introduction by Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba Winthrop
(University of Chicago Press, 2002)
ISBN-13: 978-0226805368

Please be sure to obtain this translation.

“This book is not precisely in anyone’s camp; in writing it I did not mean either to serve or to contest any party; I undertook to see, not differently, but further than the parties; and while they are occupied by the next day, I wanted to ponder the future.”
Alexis de Tocqueville

Soon after the July Revolution of 1830 in Paris, a young and charismatic Alexis de Tocqueville ventured to the shores of the United States. He went not as a sightseer, but with a sense of alarming urgency to see further ahead, and more acutely, into the futurefor what was in store for the new democratic age. Moved by the awesome spectacle of democratic revolutions in Europe, Tocqueville felt strongly that there was no turning back to the ‘ancien regime’, the old, established order of aristocratic privileges.

Yet, what Tocqueville saw in the character of this new form of democracysomething the ancient democracies had never witnessedwas something of a paradox: democratic liberty, with its claim of equality for all, seemed to undermine the possibility of realizing that very equality. In traveling to North America, young Alexis hoped to find answers to questions about what could be done to foster democracy’s best tendencies while slowing its worst.

Tocqueville’s most ardent readers have said of Democracy in America that it continues to show us ourselves like no other book about modern democratic social and political life. We will approach our study of Democracy in America not with a historian’s interest in the past, but alive to the possibility that the text could be a means to understand both the weaknesses and strengths, the promises and perils of democracy todaynot only in America, but wherever there is democracy around the world.

In this 4-week seminar we’ll be covering the whole, by means of selected parts: we will look closely at sections of Democracy in America in which Tocqueville explores two of his key ideas. First, what he calls “the generative principles” of democracy in America and the factors that prevent a powerful aristocracy from ever establishing itself in the United States. Second, the radical influence that democracy has in shaping intellectual life and sentiments.

This seminar will be read-as-we-go, averaging about 60 pages per week.

All online seminar payments are nonrefundable.

 

 

Additional information

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Standard registration, Toronto Pursuits 2020 credit

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