Achieving Human Perfection An Analysis of J.S. Mill and Alexis de Tocqueville
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This project consists of a close analysis of the works of John Stuart Mill and Alexis de Tocqueville, with reference to work by David Held. I will work primarily with On Liberty, Considerations on Representative Government, Democracy in America, and Models of Democracy. In order to come to a conclusion about the best way to encourage flourishing in today's American political climate I had to analyze both of their conceptions of human nature, individualism and citizenship, and government and society. The methodology for this project was therefore close reading and discussion of their works and concepts. I will attempt to answer the question, "what does the ideal human look like for each thinker and how can a government promote this self-development to become a fully developed and refined human?" I will also attempt to suggest why this is a relevant topic today and which methods we might attempt to employ in our present day situation to promote flourishing in the United States once again. In order to address this question, I will analyze perceptions of human nature, the act of development, the differences between individuals and citizens as well as societies and governments, the ways in which humans engage with society and government, and the types of government each thinker supports. This will lead me to my conclusion that an ideal human for America today is one who is able to balance a sense of individualism with a desire to fulfill a civic duty, effectively channeling aspects of Mill and Tocqueville.