In Defense of Ideals
January 30, 2019
Watkins Room (Trone Student Center)
The Tocqueville Program is an intellectual community devoted to seeking the truth about the moral and philosophic questions at the heart of political life. We host curricular and extracurricular activities designed to help students and faculty to engage seriously with the most powerful arguments behind diverse and competing religious, political and ethical points of view. Our work is undertaken in the hope that the practice of shared, disciplined inquiry into disputed questions can help us understand better how to maintain the delicate fabric of our civilization.
Our program takes its name from Alexis de Tocqueville, a 19th-century French author, statesman, and traveler who developed a "new science of politics" focused on the study of the modern democratic soul. One the contested, partisan questions of his time, Tocqueville "undertook to see, not differently, but further than the parties." We seek to follow his example.
Each year, Furman’s Tocqueville Program offers a broad range of curricular and extracurricular activities:
- A lecture series that brings to Furman’s campus prominent scholars and public intellectuals who exemplify the Tocquevillean approach to political thought.
- An upper-level course, aligned with the lecture series, which situates an in-depth study of a contemporary issue within the tradition of political philosophy, and which offers students the chance to engage in class with scholars and intellectuals currently grappling with these problems.
- A range of introductory and upper-level courses in the history of the Western and American Traditions of political philosophy.
- The Society of Tocqueville Fellows, an association that cultivates a select group of students interested in political philosophy by guiding them through a coherent set of courses and a specially designed colloquium series. Fellows are supported with a modest financial award.
- A Political Thought Club that meets one afternoon per week to discuss works of political philosophy not usually found in our courses. Past readings have included works by Edmund Burke, Charles Darwin, Hans Jonas, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, and Blaise Pascal.