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Like dye cast into water, liberal assumptions colour everything American, from ideas about human nature to fears about big government. Not the dreaded "L" word of the 1988 presidential campaign, liberalism in its historical context emerged from the modern faith in free inquiry, natural rights, economic liberty, and democratic government. Expressed in the nation-building acts of revolution and constitution-writing, liberalism both structured and limited Americans' sense of reality for two centuries. The nation's scholars were unable to break away from liberalism's pervasive hold on the American mind until the last generation - when they recovered the lost world of classical republicanism. Ornate, aristocratic, prescriptive and concerned with the common good, this form of republicanism held sway among the founding fathers before the triumph of liberal thought, with its simple egalitarian, rational, and individualistic emphasis. The two concepts, as Joyce Appleby shows, posed choices for 18th century thinkers much as they have divided 20th century scholars. Entering one of the liveliest debates in the scholarly world about our ideological roots, Appleby follows the labyrinthine controversies that these two perspectives have generated in their day and in ours. In doing so, she addresses the tensions that remain to be resolved in the democratic societies of the late twentieth century - the complex relations between individual and community, personal liberty and the common good, aspiration and practical wisdom.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780674530133
ISBN-10: 0674530136
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 20mm)
Pages: 364
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 1-Jun-1992
Country of Publication: United States

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Author Biography - Joyce Appleby

Joyce Appleby is Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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