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Guizot's historical works and J.S. Mill's reception of Tocqueville

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In this article the relevance to the development of John Stuart Mill's political thought of his reading of Fran├žois Guizot's early historical works is examined jointly with some aspects of Tocqueville's imputed influence on the British thinker. Some ideas that are claimed here to have been Mill's intellectual debts to Guizot, have been habitually associated with Tocqueville's influence on Mill. In the first place it is argued that one of Mill’s most cherished ideas, what he called ‘the principle of systematic antagonism’, owes much more to Guizot than to Tocqueville, and that Tocqueville's Democracy in America simply came to corroborate and give concrete focus to this idea. In the second place some of Mill's views concerning modern civilization and its consequences are shown to have been part of his thought before he came to know of Tocqueville's works, and one of the sources of these views is shown to be Guizot's historical work. In the third place Tocqueville's supposed impact on Mill's methodological approach to the study of politics is placed in a broader context, and Guizot's previously ignored relevance in this respect is considered.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Languages and European Studies, Aston University, Aston Triangle, Birmingham, B4 7ET. Email:[email protected]

Publication date: February 1, 1999

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