Of Men’s Means and Ends vs. That of God’s


Democracy In America, Alexis de Tocqueville, 1831

Appendix Y: Of Men’s Means and Ends vs. That of God’s


Men place the greatness of their idea of unity in the means, God in the ends; hence this idea of greatness, as men conceive it, leads us to infinite littleness. To compel all men to follow the same course towards the same object is a human conception; to introduce infinite variety of action, but so combined that all these acts lead in a thousand different ways to the accomplishment of one great design, is a divine conception.

The human idea of unity is almost always barren; the divine idea is infinitely fruitful. Men think they manifest their greatness by simplifying the means they use; but it is the purpose of God which is simple; his means are infinitely varied.


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The original copyright for Alexis de Tocqueville’s, “Democracy In America,” Translated by Henry Reeve, 1899, is held in the Public Domain because its copyright has expired. Formatting of this digital copy of Democracy In America Copyright © 2011 Steve Farrell and The Moral Liberal. Non-commercial, educational use of individual chapters is encouraged with a live link back to the original copy at The Moral Liberal and a courtesy note to the editors.