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Conservative Thought Conservative Thought Lecture - i type my notes in lecture so i didnt miss anything!

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Political Science
POLS 1000
Martin Breaugh

Origins of the term: • Recent term • Recent way of qualifying a philosophy, ideology and political program • First occurrence of the term conservative is in 1818 and it is used by Chateaubriand[aristocrat, and not favourable to the French revolution] • In 1818 he finds a journal called conservative • In England the term conservative will be used in a political sense in 1832 by the British Conservative Party • This does not mean that the idea behind conservative thought is also relatively new • It is not new simply because one of the most basic political question has to do with the need for change or the need to conserve or to keep things as they are thus the idea is not a new idea • Tempted to say that a conservative position is a natural political position • It appears naturally in the political round • In any given community you would want people to keep things as they are therefore it is a natural political setting • 2 major misconceptions will block our sense of political thought • 1. Reduce conservatism to nostalgic • 2. We can reduce conservatism to simply a negative reaction to change • They want to conserve things as they are, they don’t want change and acting negatively to the movement of society and to progress • This is a simplistic negative reaction and that conservatives glorify tradition for the sake of tradition • Conservative thought is neither nostalgic nor rationale • Conservative thought allows for change, a certain type of social change to come about • Here with this idea we actually encounter an original contribution of Canadian political thought • Red Tory tradition > change is allowed but it must be a slow change, a change that takes in account past practices and tradition • Also refers to the political sentiment in Canada that one can be both spending money correctly and also compassionate to society • Sum it up through 11 principles or ideas that guide political thought 1. The universe and the meaning of the universe is given • Means it is not constructed and is not made by humans • Here the term universe must be understood in a very large sense • So the universe is not only the physical world but it includes the human world • The meaning of the world is given and we as human beings cannot construct it • The direction of the universe is itself pre-determined • The given meaning of the universe and its pre-determined direction can only be developed through time and history • The movement of the universe is pre-determined • The direction of the universe and its meaning can only be developed through time and through history • This meaning of the universe will therefore pre-date human existence • Because of this we cannot give meaning of the world, cant construct, all we can do is receive • God disposes or benefits of a form of transcendental reason • Transcendental= means it is beyond human experience, beyond our thought and beyond our experience • & because god exposes of transcendental reason, we as humans can never really understand what this supreme being has in store for us, nor can we put into question Gods transcendental reason • Thus we have to accept this transcendental reason, construct meaning, only receive meaning (thus the universal order will remain history) 2. Human nature is a part of this universal order • Human nature is fundamentally good because it’s a part of this universal order • Human nature has a principle of good inscribed within it, because we are also constructed by god, but our principle of good is locked in a constant battle with negative principle that seems to corrupt our goodness • Ex. Laziness, drugs, sins • And they threaten your everyday actions, you could do good but often times you do bad • Struggle between a superior principle & the inferior principle • Conservative believes that happiness occurs when the superior principle wins against the inferior principle 3. The triumph of the superior principle over the inferior one can only happen by submitting oneself to the universals order • Religion does play a role in revealing certain aspects of the universal order • Conservatives will tell us that religion will help us understand certain elements of the universal order • Moreover we can only learn through trial and error • It is through trial and error that we can understand how to realize this given order of the universe and that we can submit ourselves to the universal order • The idea that we can learn about the universe and its order through trial and error is a profound idea • Trial and error allows us to gain experience, establish traditions • Both experience and tradition contain the wisdom that can help us understand the natural order of the universe thus conservatives will compel us to respect the experience of the past and revere the traditions that has re-stood the test of time 4. For conservatives the goal of life or the meaning of existence is not certain to live and be happy • The goal of human life is to live the “good life” • But here the good life is not the life of cigars, martinis, monster life, cars • For them it is the upright life or the honest life • This upright or this honest life comes with the triumph of the superior principle over the inferior principle • Life is worth living in as much as we ensure the triumph of the good over the bad • This triumph of the good principle will actually improve our lives or give us true value/meaning to our lives 5. Contrary to liberal thought reason does not play an essential role in conservative ideology [human reason] • The role of reason in conservative thought is reduced because reason itself is limited • For liberals reason allows us to understand everything especially what makes us happy • In order for reason to guide action, conservatives will tell us that it must take into account experience • Pure and abstract reason is dangerous because it refuses reality, it Is abstracted from them and it is dangerous because it engages in theory • In need for conservatives human experience teaches us a lot more then abstract reason [trial and error] • Thus conservatives will tell us to avoi
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