The Myth of Adam and American Identity

Terence Ball

in Reappraising Political Theory

Published in print November 1994 | ISBN: 9780198279952
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598753 | DOI:
 The Myth of Adam and American Identity

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This concluding chapter looks at a pervasive American myth—that of the American Adam—which holds that America was originally an Eden, and Americans like Adam before the Fall: fresh, innocent, and full of hope. As R.W.B. Lewis argues in The American Adam, this myth pervades American literature. I attempt to show that it pops up in other unsuspected genres as well. I illustrate this claim by looking afresh at three thinkers—John Rawls, Gerard O’Neill, and Richard Rorty—whose work, doubtless unbeknownst to them, embodies `Adamic’ themes and imagery.

Keywords: American Adam; Gerard O’Neill; R.W.B. Lewis; literature; myth; national identity; John Rawls; Richard Rorty; USA

Chapter.  8722 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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