Delba Winthrop died yesterday after a long struggle with cancer. She translated, with her husband Harvey Mansfield, Tocquevilles DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA. She was a first-rate and often quite innovative authority on Aristotle, Solzhenitysn, Tocqueville, and, more generally, on the most realistic and responsible currents of Western thought. Heres a sample of her thought, drawn from the December, 2002 SOCIETY:
Tocqueville wanted to visit America, he said, to see what a great (grande) republic is like--and by that I doubt he meant "big." He was an unabashed lover of liberty and a hesistant admirer of democratic equality. The latter he endorsed in the end because in its justice he could appreciate "its greatness and its beauty." He, in a tacit departure from most liberals, does not ground democratic equality on natural rights discovered in a state of nature, but accepts equality as a fact and looks to the kind of life democracy may provide. In an explicit departure from them, he would gladly trade some modern virtues for the singular "vice" of pride....For Tocqueville, democracies must think about honor and greatness in addition to justice and interest because meaningful democratic self-government cannot long survive without this thoughtfulness.