Perspectives on Political Science 42 (2):84-93 (2013)

Alexander Jech
University of Notre Dame
There is widespread disagreement about Tocqueville's conception of human nature, some going so far as to say that Tocqueville possessed no unified conception of human nature at all. In this paper, I aim to provide the essential principles of Tocqueville's conception of human nature through an examination of the way in which he describes the power of human circumstances, such as physical environment, social state, and religion, to shape human character by extracting the principles underlying these transformations. There is no “natural man” or man “in the state of nature” but instead a set of psychic operations that reveal a picture of human nature in which human freedom, or the ability to initiate action in pursuit of important objects, lies at the heart of human life.
Keywords Tocqueville  Human Nature  Political Philosophy
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