Cover

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Series Page, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quotes

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Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

This book began as a passing idea, matured as an article, and finally grew up to be an ungainly tome. During the expanding length of time that it has taken to complete, I have gained invaluably from many conversations. When my interlocutors see some of the results of our discussions, they will almost certainly conclude that I learned too little; ...

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Preface: Worshiping Democracy: The Panthéon and the Goddess of Democracy

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pp. xiii-xviii

Between October 9 and 11, 1794, the remains of Jean-Jacques Rousseau were transported from Ermenonville on the Isle des Peupliers to his current and final resting place in the Panthéon of Paris. The procession, which at various points along the journey sang songs written by Rousseau, was met at Tuileries by a large crowd who shouted “Vive la Republique! Vive la mémoire de Jean-Jacques Rousseau!” ...

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Introduction: Dynamics of Democratic Faith

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pp. 1-12

Democracy is regnant in practice and triumphant in theory. While many thinkers object to suppositions that we have reached philosophically the “end of history,” nevertheless in Western political thought there is no formidable or even noticeably significant challenge to the near-universal embrace of democracy as the sole legitimate form of government.1 ...

Part I: Democratic Faith and Its Discontents

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Chapter 1 Faith in Man

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pp. 15-49

To the ears of many, linking the words “faith” and “democracy” is strange, uncanny, bizarre, objectionable, and, for some, even sacrilegious. Faith is belief in the unknown or the unknowable: as expressed by Nathan Rotenstreich, “faith and belief connote assent to something beyond observation.”1 ...

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Chapter 2 Democratic Transformation

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pp. 50-83

A conundrum exists at the core of the democratic faith. On the one hand, it is a faith in human capacity for democratic self-governance that points to obstacles that stand in the way of the fruition of the faith, including such external obstructions as liberalism, capitalism, and the scale of the modern nation-state. ...

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Chapter 3 Democracy as Trial: Toward a Critique of Democratic Faith

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pp. 84-116

Resorting again to the images with which this book began, the desacralization of a religious space such as the Panthéon reflects the implicit acknowledgment that the sacred remnants of such a space—suggested by the shape of the building, its history, the attenuated reverence its echoes still provoke—continue to confer sacral legitimacy ...

Part II: Voices of the Democratic Faithful

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Chapter 4 Protagoras Unbound: The Democratic Mythology of Protagoras’s “Great Speech”

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pp. 119-139

The most preeminent Sophist of his age, Protagoras of Abdera, is reported by Plato to have made one of the great declarations of relativism: “man is the measure of all things: of the things which are, that they are, and of the things which are not, that they are not.”1 ...

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Chapter 5 Civil Religion and the Democratic Faith of Rousseau

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pp. 140-165

Jean-Jacques Rousseau is the first great modern articulator of “democratic faith.” As discussed in the introduction to this book, it was Rousseau’s claim at once to be content with “men as they are,” yet his ambition to fashion humanity as they might be, that oriented his faith toward human political potential. ...

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Chapter 6 American Faith: The Translation of Religious Faith to Democratic Faith

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pp. 166-188

In light of the individual excellences that democracy calls upon—in Santayana’s words, even requiring that “the common citizen must be something of a saint and something of a hero”—it is not surprising to encounter expressions of the need to promote belief in democracy, and indeed to see such belief as a requisite feature of democracy’s fruition.1 ...

Part III: Friendly Critics of Democratic Faith

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Chapter 7 “A Pattern Laid Up in Heaven”: Plato’s Democratic Ideal

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pp. 191-213

Critics of democratic faith—that is, critics of the belief in democracy that is premised upon “transformative” efforts aimed at fulfilling the godlike capacities of potential democratic citizens—are, more often than not, most easily served simply by rejecting democracy as a viable political system. ...

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Chapter 8 The Only Permanent State: Tocqueville on Religion and Democracy

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pp. 214-238

Contemporary debates about the presence and role of religion in the liberal-democratic polity tend to take extreme sides on the ancient controversy about the proper place and role of religion in political life. Some claim that religion poses too great a danger to the liberal polity to be allowed entrance into the public sphere; others insist that democracy cannot survive without a religious basis, ...

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Chapter 9 Hope in America: The Chastened Faith of Reinhold Niebuhr and Christopher Lasch

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pp. 239-269

I have argued at the beginning of the last part of this book that “friendly critics” of “democratic faith” lay claim in particular to the religious language and accompanying theological and political concepts of humility, hope, and charity. The former two, in particular, might seem to fit together only fitfully: humility would appear to coexist, if at all, in considerable tension with hope. ...

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Conclusion: A Model of Democratic Charity

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pp. 270-288

On January 20, 2001, President George W. Bush waxed uncharacteristically poetic in the midst of his Inaugural Address, invoking a faith different from that Christian faith he often professed during the campaign. While frequent allusions to his Christianity caused alarm and consternation among committed secularists, the invocation of a “democratic faith” in his Inaugural Address created no ripples ...

Notes

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pp. 289-360

Index

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pp. 361-366