Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

Programs for Citizens

Reconstructing America: The Symbol of America in Modern Thought

by James W. Ceasar

Yale University Press

344, January

Hardcover, 30.00

ISBN: 0300070535

With wit and passion, Ceaser traces the origins of the negative images of America, beginning with French scientists in the middle of the eighteenth century who viewed the country as a land of racial and physical degeneracy, and continuing with German thinkers from Hegel to Nietzsche, Spengler, and Heidegger, who viewed America as culturally inferior and a technological wasteland. Ceaser puts these critics of America in a dialogue with the country’s defenders – among them Alexander Hamilton, Alexis de Tocqueville, and Leo Strauss. By revealing the sources of the hostility to America, Ceaser undermines the position of its present attackers. He contends that only if we reassert political science rather than cultural and literary criticism as the proper intellectual discipline for directing politics will we free the real America from the symbolic America and vindicate its name.

Table of Contents
1. America as Degeneracy
2. American Responses to the Degeneracy Thesis
3. America in the Mirror of France: The Two Revolutions
4. America as a Racial Symbol: The “New History” of Arthur de Gobineau
5. From Ethnology to Multiculturalism
6. Racialism Versus Political Science: The Tocqueville-Gobineau Exchange
7. From America to Americanization: Images of America in German Thought
8. Katastrophenhaft: Martin Heidegger’s America
9. America as the End of History
10. America as Postmodern

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