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Alan Sidney Kahan
University of Versailles/St. Quentin (Versailles, France France)
Tocqueville, Religion, and Democracy: Checks and Balances for Democratic Souls

This project is an analysis of Tocqueville's understanding of the significance of religion in democratic societies, and will be the first comprehensive account of Tocqueville's views on religion. It makes two new arguments about Tocqueville's thought as a whole. First, Tocqueville must be understood as a moralist whose goal was to encourage the perfection of human character. Second, Tocqueville thought that the role of religion was to provide checks and balances for human character in the spiritual realm, just as secular forces should provide them in the political realm, and that in the long run secular checks and balances were dependent on the success of spiritual checks and balances. These arguments guide my examination of Tocqueville's views on the relationship between religion and democracy as found in his writings on America, France, and elsewhere (England, Ireland, Algeria, India), and their implications for how religion and democracy can be mutually supportive today.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Political Science, General

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2013 – 8/31/2014