Wordsworth: Second Nature and Democracy

Philosophy and Literature 43 (1):89-106 (2019)
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Abstract

What is the relation between democracy and second nature? What, that is, is the relation between a form of government that places a premium on a people shaping their shared destiny and a people who have been shaped by their past inheritance—an assortment of traditions, customs, perspectives, and practices? Does democracy fundamentally seek to escape custom and practice—the oppressive yoke of tradition—or does it, in fact, depend on a cultural inheritance, a second nature?In many standard accounts, Romanticism frees itself from the encumbrance of tradition and discipline and thereby soars, unshackled, to the lofty heights of subjective expression, unrestrained imagination, and self-creation.1 In this view...

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