POL320Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Montesquieu

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Pol320
Week 1
January 11, 2017
Edmond Burke- Reflections on the Revolution in France
I. Challenges of reading Burke
He is not only talking about the French revolution but he is also suggesting that there are principles that
England runs itself by. He interprets 1688 in a different way than the dissenters (wollestonecraft, godwin
etc)
“uppots idea of oeial epie ut is hostile to Bitai’s ethods of oloisatio i Idia
Disagreed with Rousseau who is considered a champion of liberty, though he is in favour of
liberty
Does not support the French revolution but is in support of American revolution
Many contradictions
Defender of monarchy but is also in favour of parliament
II. Early life and time and influences
Burke is writing in response to Richard pie’s seo, to stop the ah of liety ad the
spread of revolution to England
Burke believes that the most dangerous part of the sermon is that it is delivered by someone
(price) who has no experience in politics.
1756 Vindication od Natural Society
1765 accepted a job as secretary to lord Rockingham, leade of Rokigha Whigs, a
parliamentary group
o Same year he ran for parliament where he remained an MP for c. 30 years
Key influence in his work is Montesquieu, predominant political evil is the threat of tyranny,
independent judiciary, praise of liberty in English constitutions, importance of moral and
manners in assessing politics and the importance of affective feature of political life
o Diffeees ae see i Buke’s defese of oal solid paliamentary party groupings.
III. Interpreting the early stages of the French Revolution
The failure of the revolution was due to the policy making of the crown itself.
Chaotic and poorly disciplined mob rule was the driving force of changes in the revolution, not a
put together picture of reform
The kig as ot atig as a tyat ad did’t desee to e teated as he as i the eolutio
according to Burke.
IV. Man in Society
Defede of atioal iuiy, eotios otiate idiiduals ad it’s also that setiet e educated.
Importance of religion and the arts for Burke to educate emotions.
1757 Philosophical enquiry into the origins of our ideas of the sublime and beautiful- the
beginning of his reflection on the centrality of emotion and the importance of custom in human
life
More direct criticism of enlightenment traditions of theorising about the natural state of human
kind was developed in 1756 Vindication of Natural Society
A) His critique of natural rights and social contract theory
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