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Burke study guide

Burke study guide - CC Study Guide Edmund Burke Selections...

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CC Study Guide Edmund Burke: Selections from Reflections on the Revolution in France (1970) From class on Wednesday, February 20, 2008 The basic argument: A stable state produces a good society because it guarantees order, liberty, and the continuation of that society. This stability is produced by important institutions, such as universal prejudices (including sentiments supporting religion, order, and submission), heredity, and prudence. The French Revolution is bad because it has unjustly and illegally disregarded and/or upset these institutions, thereby putting the society and its people in danger. The essay basically repeats that throughout, so I’ve organized some key points and quotes according to topic, rather than the chronology of the essay. Note that this separation is not nearly as distinct in Burke’s writing as it is in these bulleted lists: the ideas of liberty, heredity, stability, religion, order, and his opinion of revolutions all depend on and inform each other as part of the theory above. Freedom: In speaking of freedom, Burke refers to “rational liberty” and “a manly, moral, regulated liberty” Liberty is a tangible entity, “an entailed inheritance derived to us form our forefathers and transmitted to our posterity; as an estate specially belonging to the people” (line 304). Burke believes that the goodness of any thing (in this case, liberty) is dependent on the circumstances in which it exists. (His major discussion of circumstances begins around line 110). Heredity/stability/order: The stability of the government, the ruler, and the method of succession of the ruler is indicative of the stability of the society, therefore a strong system of hereditary rule will secure liberty.
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