Tocqueville as Prophet of Decline

Dr. Norma J. Thompson

Associate Director of the Whitney Humanities Center, Senior Lecturer in the Humanities, and Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Humanities Major, Yale University.

 

Nothing impressed Tocqueville more in America than that “marvelous combination” of the spirit of religion and the spirit of political freedom, the habits of absolute servitude demanded by Puritan authorities coexisting next to the relentless political independence of the typical New England town. Yet by his own diagnosis, such dichotomies were bound to disappear under the leveling force of popular opinion and the tyranny of the majority.

Dr. Thompson is the author of Unreasonable Doubt: Circumstantial Evidence and an Ordinary Murder in New Haven (2006). She has published two books with Yale University Press: Herodotus and the Origins of the Political Community: Arion's Leap (1996) and The Ship of State: Politics and Statecraft from Ancient Greece to Democratic America (2001).

She edited the volume Instilling Ethics with Rowman and Littlefield (2000) and has also published in Arion, Nomos, International Journal of the Classical Tradition, and in the festschrift for David Grene, Literary Imagination, Ancient and Modern. Her most recent article is on Herodotus and Thucydides for The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Greek Political Theory (2009). Her current book project is titled "The Making of Character."

Dr. Thompson received her A.B. from Bowdoin College and her Ph.D. from the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. Her scholarship and teaching are in the humanities, with special interests in political philosophy and politics and literature.

Dr. Thompson's lecture was held in the Escondido Theater at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX, March 11, 2014.