In this major new work, Dominique Schnapper continues her investigation into changes in contemporary democracy. Although she concentrates on the French example, The Democratic Spirit of Law concerns all democratic societies. Schnapper warns against the danger of corrupting the "principles," as defined by Montesquieu, on which democracy is based. If democracy becomes "extreme," all its founding principles risk being corrupted. Respect for institutions is necessary for freedom to be effective. Furthermore, if democrats cease to distinguish between facts and values, religion and politics, politics and the judiciary, knowledge and opinion, and knowledge and intuition, they will sink into absolute relativism or a nihilism that threatens the very values on which democratic society is based. By pointing out the danger of corruption inherent in the democratic promise of freedom, equality, and happiness, the author provides intellectual weapons not only to understand, but also to defend democracy, the only system in history, despite its limits and failures, that has humanely organized human societies.
Democracy's future depends on citizens' preservation of the founding spirit of the democratic order: recognition of others, and free, reasonable, and controlled criticism of legitimate institutions.
Acknowledgments Preface by Mark Lilla Introduction "Well-Regulated" Democracy versus "Extreme" Democracy The Two Critiques A Sociological Project Risks of Deviation and "Corruption" 1 The Temptation of the Unlimited From Autonomy to the Rejection of All Dependence Autonomy and Independence Autonomy and Collective Constraints From Citizenship to Democracy of the Intimate The Extension Internalization From Scientific Progress to the World Without Limits The Illusion of Omnipotence Time's Discordance 2 From Liberty to License The Critical Relationship Toward Institutions Contestation From Marriage to PACS and Back Again "Free" Choices Difficult Transmission The Child and the School: Between the Republic and Business The Museum as a Cultural Enterprise Representation in Crisis? To Bypass or To Complement? The Dream of Ultra-Democracy Disintegration of Republican Transcendence Return through Technology? 3 From Equality to Indistinction Indistinction of Orders Separation of the Political and of the Ethno-Religious From Autonomy to Confusion? The Rejection of Boundaries Indistinction of Persons The Utopia of Generalized Exchanges The Pure and the Impure Animal and Human Indistinction of Values From Relative Relativism to Absolute Relativism Democratic Tolerance 4 Criticism of Criticism The Achievements of the Republican Promise More Freedom More Tolerance Richer and Less Unequal Society of Humiliation Integration through Individualism? Face Up to Failure Less Poor and More Humiliated Conclusion Historic Destinies Its Own Worst Enemy? Bibliography Index
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