“Majority Tyranny in Aristotle and Tocqueville” by Harvey Mansfield

Harvey C. Mansfield, "“Majority Tyranny in Aristotle and Tocqueville,” Friends and Citizens: Essays in Honor of Wilson Carey McWilliams, ed. Peter Dennis Bathory and Nancy L. Schwartz (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000) pp. 289-297.


To compare Aristotle and Alexis de Tocqueville may not seem appropriate because Tocqueville does not seem to address Aristotle directly. He did not read Aristotle every day as he said he read Pascal, Montesquieu, and Rousseau. The latter are modern philosophers living in the midst of modernity who, unlike the early philosophers on the front line of modernity, such as Machiavelli, Bacon, and Hobbes, did not have to confront the ancients, above all Aristotle. Tocqueville does not mention Aristotle in Democracy in America, and his most prominent possible reference to him dismisses a key notion of his political science, the mixed regime: “The government called mixed has always seemed to me a chimera” (I 2.7, 289).


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