Nature and History in American Political Development A Debate

ISBN-10: 067402723X
ISBN-13: 9780674027237
Edition: 2006
List price: $23.00
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Description: In this inaugural volume of the Alexis de Tocqueville Lectures, political scientist James Ceaser traces the way certain ideas, including nature, history, and religion--which he calls foundational ideas--have been understood and used by statesmen and  More...

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Book details

List price: $23.00
Copyright year: 2006
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publication date: 3/31/2008
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 240
Size: 5.50" wide x 8.00" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.484
Language: English

In this inaugural volume of the Alexis de Tocqueville Lectures, political scientist James Ceaser traces the way certain ideas, including nature, history, and religion--which he calls foundational ideas--have been understood and used by statesmen and public intellectuals over the course of American history, from the Puritans to the current day. Ceaser treats these ideas not as pure concepts of philosophy or theology, but rather as elements of political discourse that provide the ground or ultimate appeal for other political ideas, such as liberty or equality. At times, they have critically influenced the course of American political development, offering various opportunities and constraints for political leaders. Ceaser traces the histories of these ideas and their relation to other ideas, to practices, and to the fortunes of successive partisan regimes. Three critical commentators--historian Jack Rakove and political theorists Nancy Rosenblum and Rogers Smith--challenge Ceaser's arguments in several ways. They suggest that other ideas may be considered foundational, and they prod him to clarify further how foundational ideas work politically. Ceaser responds with vigor, and the result is a spirited debate about large and enduring questions in American politics.

Jack N. Rakove is the William R. Coe Professor of History and American Studies and Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and author of the Pulitzer Prize�e"winning Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution.

Theda Skocpol is professor of government and sociology at Harvard University and the author of Boomerang: Health Care Reform and the Turn Against Government.

Foreword
Foundational Concepts and American Political Development
Can We Know a Foundational Idea When We See One?
Replacing Foundations with Staging: "Second-Story" Concepts and American Political Development
What If God Was One of Us? The Challenges of Studying Foundational Political Concepts
Foundational Concepts Reconsidered
Notes
About the Authors
Index

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