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Democratic Faith (New Forum Books) Hardcover – July 25, 2005

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"This book offers a serious philosophical and historical basis for current democratic theory. It makes a valuable contribution to the topic of religion and politics and is worthy of careful study. It is well written and immensely readable."--Studia Historiae Ecclesiasticae

"Following in the footsteps of Christopher Lasch, [Patrick Deneen] is concerned to expose what he perceives as the ill-placed object of the democratic faithful -- a trust in human capacities for self-government and progress so perfectionist that it entails the transformation of humans into the divine creatures they can never be.… Unlike so much Christian commentary on democracy, Deneen pursues his critique not as prolegomena for the advocacy of an alternative faith but as a way of proposing a 'chastened' democratic faith, one that might count him among the faithful."--J. Ronald Engel, Journal of Religion

"Whether they be 'deliberative liberals,' whose confidence in rationality, science, and technique inspires their democratic quest, or 'agonistic democrats,' those animated by a foundational belief in the citizenship-forming capacity of conflict, these true believers insist on the possibility of profound social transformation with a hope that leans far more on faith than on empirical evidence. Deneen's probing of the origins of this faith is brilliant--an exacting, at times exciting venture into pivotal texts.... What we all need, Deneen implies, is not the absence of faith but a better faith, one that clarifies vision, forges better ties, forces a different reading of our past, and takes us down, down, into the depths of who we, as Americans, as Westerners, and as human beings are."--Eric Miller, Books & Culture

From the Back Cover

"This is a powerful and poignant work in that it refines and deepens contemporary democratic theory. It literally resurrects the perennial wisdom of Reinhold Niebuhr and Christopher Lasch for serious democrats in a fascinating dialogue with Plato, Tocqueville, and Rousseau. Its relevance for our time resounds loudly."--Cornel West, Princeton University, author of Democracy Matters

"Democratic Faith is truly a tour de force, a tremendously important, even magisterial contribution to democratic theory. With this book, Patrick Deneen establishes himself as the worthy exponent and even spiritual heir to the line of American political thinkers that ranges from Tocqueville to Whitman to Dewey to contemporaries Richard Rorty and Benjamin Barber. It is an amazing piece of scholarship, both rigorous and capacious, offering careful yet novel re-readings of the above authors as well as, to mention a few of the highlights, Plato, Aeschylus, Aristotle, Rousseau, and other luminaries. Deneen succeeds in bringing these disparate authors into a compelling narrative that assembles the various pieces into a synthetic perspective without any undue compromise along the way. Moreover, the book is gorgeously written and wonderfully readable--the beautiful prose and the scintillating argument flow."--John Seery, Pomona College. author of Political Theory for Mortals

"This book is an important contribution to studies of democratic theory, to studies of such authors as Dewey, Arendt, and Rorty, and to the burgeoning literature on the topic of religion and politics. After the first chapter my reaction came to be: get this book out fast!"--Robert Faulkner, Boston College, author of The Jurisprudence of John Marshall


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Product Details

  • Series: New Forum Books
  • Hardcover: 392 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (July 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 069111871X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691118710
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,910,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Elias F. Crim on May 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Patrick Deneen has many remarkable insights about the illusory nature of democracy in this book, one another reviewer (not the dyspeptic Mr. Fuchs) mentions in the same breath with the work of Hannah Arendt. Deneen has the temerity to reflect critically on democracy as an ersatz religion, which is possibly what Amazon reviewer Mr. Fuchs is melting down about nearby here in his tizzy of ad hominem, faux-sophisticate sneering and exasperated atheism. Jeez, Cornel West liked the book. Mr. Fuchs comes across like one of those people you see manning a Lyndon Larouche table.
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By Cyrus on January 31, 2016
Format: Paperback
Insightful commentary - contemporary application, timeless principles.
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Format: Hardcover
First things first. What this book is really a great example of is the very brilliant and deft use of wiggle words and easy escape clauses like "if only implicitly". Now no one writing about large themes can escape such conveniences, but when they are used to couch the basic theme of the book, there is trouble. The book uses Rousseau's thought and life as a metaphor for a lot else in politics. But even with the central theme, it is "only implicitly". This is the big tip-off. The author has a deeper agenda snuggled next to his heart, which he wants to bring forth. In this case it is likely a sort of reactionary Catholicism, or reactionary thought per se. No amount of quoting Rorty is going to ameliorate this guy's presence on wildly reactionary sites like the Front Porch Republic (which has advocated return to Monarch no less-- I'm not kidding!) . It gets worse though. For somehow he wishes with this book to leave the purposively vague impression that a lot of decent instincts in democratic republics are at bottom somehow related to acceptance rather unappealing sides of Rousseau......of course "if only implicitly". Well, real political freedom ain't very "implicit", as the Christians in the Middle East. He is so slippery on this, wielding his wiggle words and escape clauses like an craft show artiste, that it is often hard to find one sentence that is not answered by another that seems to couch it, designed for unclarity itself. In tragic irony, along the way he treats the Founders of real, decent democracies as utterly suspicious of the same, which is an irresponsible exaggeration for sure. (One good read of Walter Berns' Religion and the Founding Principle article will be like a good sherbert to cleanse the palate after a bad course.Read more ›
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