Tocqueville's moral and political thought: New liberalism

M.R.R. Ossewaarde*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Book/ReportBookAcademic

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    This book seeks to contribute to a better understanding of liberalism in general and of the distinctive character of Tocqueville's liberalism in particular. Tocqueville's writings can certainly not be qualified as systematic, and hence we have deemed it important to arrange them in a thematic order (rather than historical or biographical) so that the nature of his liberalism may become more intelligible. Due to its complex and rather intriguing character, Tocqueville's liberalism easily leads to its 'appropriation by political groups and intellectual current', as Sudhir Hazareesingh notes. His liberalism has often been misunderstood, both in his days as in our own. In the current intellectual climate (for instance, the liberalism-communitarianism debate), there are many partisans who tend to 'borrow' Tocqueville's moral and political ideas for their own purposes. They seem to find arguments in his works, which are favourable to their own commitments, but they seldom portray his liberalism and its implications as a whole. The present work seeks to go beyond the current battle of ideas. Its ambition is to present a truthful interpretation of a nineteenth-century statesman's worldview - of someone who points to the most fundamental matters in relation to living the good life and who compels his audience to judge their own contemporary state of affairs. It is here held that Tocqueville, more than any other liberal, has fully explored the relationship and interplay between democracy and liberalism. Since this subject is far from being a bygone past, it is hoped that Tocqueville's reflections can help towards a better understanding of the present age, which cannot be broken away from its past.

    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
    Number of pages188
    ISBN (Print)0203449215, 9780203449219
    Publication statusPublished - 22 Apr 2004


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