First Democracy: The Challenge of an Ancient Idea by Paul WoodruffFirst Democracy: The Challenge of an Ancient Idea by Paul Woodruff

First Democracy: The Challenge of an Ancient Idea

byPaul Woodruff

Paperback | March 15, 2006

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Americans have an unwavering faith in democracy and are ever eager to import it to nations around the world. But how democratic is our own "democracy"? If you can vote, if the majority rules, if you have elected representatives--does this automatically mean that you have a democracy? In thiseye-opening look at an ideal that we all take for granted, classical scholar Paul Woodruff offers some surprising answers to these questions. Drawing on classical literature, philosophy, and history--with many intriguing passages from Sophocles, Aesop, and Plato, among others--Woodruff immerses us in the world of ancient Athens to uncover how the democratic impulse first came to life. The heart of the book isolates seven conditionsthat are the sine qua non of democracy: freedom from tyranny , harmony, the rule of law, natural equality, citizen wisdom, reasoning without knowledge, and general education. He concludes that a true democracy must be willing to invite everyone to join in government. It must respect the rule of lawso strongly that even the government is not above the law. True democracy must be mature enough to accept changes that come from the people. And it must be willing to pay the price of education for thoughtful citizenship. If we learn anything from the story of Athens, Woodruff concludes, itshould be this--never lose sight of the ideals of democracy. This compact, eloquent book illuminates these ideals and lights the way as we struggle to keep democracy alive at home and around the world.

About The Author

Paul Woodruff is Darrel K. Royal Professor in Ethics and American Society and Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Philosophy, The University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of the popular book Reverence: Renewing a Forgotten Virtue.
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Details & Specs

Title:First Democracy: The Challenge of an Ancient IdeaFormat:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 5 × 7.01 × 0.79 inPublished:March 15, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195304543

ISBN - 13:9780195304541

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"This elegant essay from a distinguished classicist raises fundamental questions relevant to our contemporary political life through the prism of the Athenian democracy. The reader may disagree with Woodruff's policy prescriptions--I do, myself--but one must admire the insights and eruditionof the analysis. It is a beautiful book."--Philip C. Bobbitt, author of The Shield of Achilles: War, Peace, and the Course of History