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Foundations of American Political Thought

Readings and Commentary

Edited By Raymond Polin and Constance Polin

Foundations of American Political Thought: Readings and Commentary explains American historical concepts and key political ideas from 1620 to 1910. In this primer for democracy, all verbatim passages and original documents point to their original intentions and ideological movements. Key terms and basic terminology are incisive and essential for a thorough understanding of democracy. This book represents the setting and trends that produced sound progress in American political growth.


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Introduction: Explanation of Basic Terminology and Key Concepts xv


Jllf/'(•J/t('fi(•/1 Explanation of Basic Terminology and Key Concepts ecause there is generally imprecise or insufficient understanding of many key political terms and concepts, there is often also disagreement on their meaning and how to define them. Consequently, a political writer's pur- port may at times not be exactly or fully communicated. It is also desirable to establish the pattern that the attitude of a political thinker influences the selection and development of congruent concepts to apply to the problem-issues chosen for consideration and that much treated of here is generalization. Attitude: One faces life, the world, and the rest of humanity with an attitude that tends to be either brightly optimistic and happy or gloomily pes- simistic and downcast except for those who find and live by the balanc- ing principle of an Aristotelian "golden mean between two extremes." Thus, one may discern-stereotypically, if not precisely-two largely contrast- ing sets of attitude or "psychological makeup." The optimistic individual is more inclined to be happy, friendly, kindly, fun-loving, liberal or moderate, skeptically open-minded, brave, adventuresome, and freedom loving for others as well as self, at times at some expense to law and order. The pessimistic individual is more inclined to be downcast, hostile, mean or indifferent, cynically closed-minded, seri- ous, conservative or moderate, cautious or fearful, and more devoted to tradition and to law and order (rules and safety) imposed on others and self, at times at some expense to freedom. XVI J FOUNDATIONS OF AMERICAN POLITICAL THOUGHT...

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