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Politics and Remembrance

Politics and Remembrance: Republican Themes in Machiavelli, Burke, and Tocqueville

Bruce James Smith
Copyright Date: 1985
Pages: 300
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zth2k
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  • Book Info
    Politics and Remembrance
    Book Description:

    This inquiry into the nature of political action concerns what the author describes as the most precarious and uncertain of human endeavors." Focusing on specific themes in Machiavelli, Burke, and Tocqueville, Bruce Smith identifies political action as a distinct mode of human activity.

    Originally published in 1985.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5503-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. ONE INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 3-25)

    Politics, thought Chesterton, is inescapably symbolic. In public things, images are always in abundance. While these are occasionally given solidity and substance in carved stone, they live in the minds of men. Political action is rarely, if ever, free from such imaginings. That tradition which links action with heroes is a sound one. Weʹve long suspected that the heroic imagination originates in images of past action. In the memorable deeds of predecessors, human beings discover what they must become. The lover of action, like Melvilleʹs Starry Vere, finds his literature in history. Reverence and piety are familiar sentiments to him,...

  5. TWO MACHIAVELLI: REMEMBRANCE AND THE REPUBLIC
    (pp. 26-101)

    When Augustine insisted that ʺthe seat of the mind is in memory,ʺ he was only giving voice to what had lain at the very center of the Roman political experience since the founding of that city. Among ancient peoples, it was the Romans whose gaze was drawn ineluctably to the past. For the Romans, the primitive equation of the good with the ancestral remained intact. The source of all authority, political and religious, lay in their recollection of their origin as a people. The sacredness of the foundation was the principle around which the entire political experience of the Roman...

  6. THREE EDMUND BURKE: POLITICAL ORDER AND THE PAST
    (pp. 102-154)

    Of Edmund Burke, John MacCunn said, ʺHis very name is a symbol of reverence towards all that is old and venerable.ʺ If others have not always shared MacCunnʹs admiration or joined in his praise of the Right Honorable Mr. Burke, few have disagreed with his assessment of Burkeʹs attitude toward the past. Perhaps no other political theorist has had the past respectfully on his lips more often than had Edmund Burke. Burke never seemed to tire of reminding his readers that all that is good in politics is that which is ʺinherited; … a patrimony derived from their forefathers.ʺ To...

  7. FOUR ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE: THE POLITICS OF AFFECTION
    (pp. 155-250)

    In the first paragraph of the Authorʹs Introduction to the first part ofDemocracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville names the ʺprimary factʺ of modern politics. This ʺfactʺ is equality of condition. Its importance rests, in part, on the scope of its influence, for it ʺextends far beyond the political character and the laws of the country, and it has no less effect on civil society than on government.ʺ Tocqueville thus puts the reader on notice that it is not laws or even institutions that chiefly interest him, but ʺopinions,ʺ ʺcustoms,ʺ and ʺsentiments.ʺ His is a theory which placesles...

  8. FIVE THINKING ABOUT THE REPUBLIC: A NOTE ON EQUALITY AND AUTHORITY
    (pp. 251-272)

    These essays have been concerned primarily with the nature of political action and its relation to the past. Remembrance is the faculty and the metaphor of this relation. In these inquiries, my particular focus has been the republic as a form of government. It remains for me to assess the place of remembrance within a more comprehensive teaching of the republic. I believe it to lie in the difficult nexus between equality and authority. In these concluding pages, I will attempt to provide a provisional account of this connection.

    Reflecting on what he saw in America, G. K. Chesterton imagined...

  9. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 273-278)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 279-287)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 288-288)