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Lesson from Finals Studying

December 15, 2013

Hi y’all. New Haven has entered the dreariest time of year — fall semester finals period. It is the worst of times, not only because of finals but also because of the frigidly cold weather. Add to that a written exam, an oral exam, and 30 pages worth of writing to do, and it’s enough to drive a girl insane.

But I really enjoyed studying for one of my exams. In studying for my Liberty seminar’s final, I re-read Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, and I just love some of the things he has to say. So here are a few of my favorite lessons from Tocqueville (he was a pretty smart guy, as you can see)

On God’s providence

“It is not necessary that God himself speak in order for us to discover sure signs of his well…I know without the Creator’s raising his voice that the stars follow the arcs in space that his finger has traced.”

“God prepares a firmer and calmer future for [us]; I am ignorant of his designs, but I will not cease to believe in them merely because I cannot penetrate them, and I would rather doubt my enlightenment than his justice.”

On Democracy vs. Aristocracy

“If [in democracy] less brilliance than within an aristocracy, one will find less misery; enjoyments will be less extreme and well-being more genera; sciences less great and ignorance rarer; sentiments less energetic and habits milder; one will note more vices and fewer crimes.” –> I thought about this quotation a lot when I was in Europe two summers ago and visited a lot of grand estates and palaces.

On the modern era

“Has man, as in our [modern] day, always had before his eyes a world where nothign is linked, where virtue is without genius and genius without honor; where love of order is confused with a taste for tyrants and the holy cult of freedom with contempt for laws; where conscience casts only a dubious light on human actions; where nothing seems any longer to be forbidden or permitted, or honest or shameful, or true or false?”

On political parties

“While they [the parties] are occupied with the next day, I wanted to ponder the future.”

On the American South

“To it [the South], the American Revolution owes its greatest men.”

On equality

“There is in fact a manly and legitimate passion for equality that incites men to want all to be strong and esteemed. This passion tends to elevate the small to the rank of the great; but one also encounters a depraved taste for equality in the human heart that brings the weak to want to draw the strong to their level and that reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom.”

On government

“The collective force of citizens will always be more powerful to produce social well-being than  the authority of government.”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Penny Reinhardt permalink
    December 17, 2013 5:52 pm

    very thought provoking. Good luck with finals.

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