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BICENTENNIAL OF THE CONSTITUTION / Vol. 54, No. 3 (Fall 1987)

Maurice Auerbach and Leonard Lamm, Guest Editors
Arien Mack, Journal Editor

The articles collected in this issue of Social Research were originally presented in three Bicentennial Conferences sponsored by the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science during the academic year 1986-1987.

The following are selected papers from a series of conferences which celebrated the Bicentennial of the Constitution at The New School. The focus of the divergent perspectives represented by the papers is the American experience in light of the continuing dialogue between America and Europe. The topics covered are civil religion and constitutionalism, equality of rights, and the interchange between emigre scholarship and American self-understanding.

Considers John Locke's influence on the Founding Fathers in their belief of the need for religion in a liberal political society and studies Thomas Paine's opposition to biblical religion in his 'Age of Reason,' where he ostensibly argues for the ascendance of rationality to inform and inculcate a society's morals, but really makes a three-pronged attack on American moderation, the conduct of the French Revolution, and humanistic Christianity.

What if anything, I thought of miracles when I was a child I cannot for the life of me reliably recall, but when I attained the age of reason, in adolescence, it was too obvious to me that such things were superstitious nonsense to be worth the effort of attentive opposition.

Asserts that Alexis de Tocqueville's 'Democracy in America,' meant as a description of America and a prescription for Europe, paradoxically came to be understood by "progressive" Americans "Europeanizing" themselves as a prescription for them as well. Studies Tocqueville's thoughts on the interrelationship of liberal political doctrine and religion, finding that Americans have indeed followed Europe in unwisely separating the two.

Compares and contrasts contemporary European studies of American women during 1820–40 written by Fanny Wright, Frances Trollope, Harriet Martineau, and Alexis de Tocqueville, finding the last author's views the most moderate. Laments the lack of a communal or social replacement for the female's role of maintaining standards of propriety and self-restraint evident in this period.

The "triadic nature" of freedom - comprised of oligarchic "organic" freedom, libertarian "personal" freedom, and egalitarian "civic" freedom - has dominated Western notions since the ancient Greeks. While one of the three elements usually dominated the other two, at the time of the American Civil War the three were evenly matched, a unique occurrence in history. Thus, slaveholding Founding Fathers, Confederate statesmen, and other "hypocrites" really were fighting to preserve freedom, just as more traditional forces are considered to have done so.

The "triadic nature" of freedom--comprised of oligarchic "organic" freedom, libertarian "personal" freedom, and egalitarian "civic" freedom--has dominated Western notions since the ancient Greeks. While one of the three elements usually dominated the other.

Chronicles American émigré political philosopher Hannah Arendt's transition from disapproval (in "On Revolution" [1963]) to advocacy (in "Civil Disobedience" [1972]) of the American Constitution, questioning if her final conclusion, though desirable, is intellectually valid.

To serve as respondent on this occasion is a pleasant and welcome task. I hold both George Kateb and Hannah Arendt in high esteem; and I have a deep admiration for the document which is the theme of our deliberations: the American Constitution. Certainly, on his bicentennial celebration of its framing, this document merits our renewed reflection and attentive assessment.

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