Notebook II

Men think that the greatness of the idea of unity lies in means. God sees it in the end. It is for that reason that the idea of greatness leads to a thousand mean actions. To force all men to march in step toward the same goal — that is a human idea. To encourage endless variety of action but to bring them about so that in a thousand different ways all tend toward the fulfillment of one great design — that is a God-given idea.

The human idea of unity is almost always sterile, but that of God is immensely fruitful. Men think they prove their greatness by simplifying the means. God’s object is simple but His means infinitely various.

—Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vol. II, Appendix Y