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Lecture 16

POLS 1000 Lecture Notes - Lecture 16: Joseph De Maistre, Abstract Theory, French Revolution

Political Science
Course Code
POLS 1000
Martin Breaugh

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(Week 4 Jan. 31)
Conservatism/conservative = new concept*
o The first use of the word appears in 1818 French aristocrat, Chateaubrind
1832 England the tori party becomes the conservative party
the notion of conservatism is born/created in the wake of the French revolution (1789)
the idea itself is not relatively new to human affairs (for the political world)
o ill there e hage or ill thigs sta the sae?
o conservative answer: no, things must remain the same/ go back to the way
things were
two major misconceptions of conservative ideology:
o 1. We reduce conservatism to an expression of nostalgia
seeks to restore an old and outdated social and political configuration
e. Cosiderig the old regie as the good old das
o 2. We have a tendency to reduce conservatism to a negative reaction to the
movement of things
a negative reaction to social change
conservatism is not afraid of change they will admit a certain type of
change/progress of society but there is a specific aspect of changed the
conservative ideology is not a refusal of progress/willingness to turn back the clocks
o as Canadians = progressive conservative party that is not afraid of change but it
wanted it to be slow, progressive, and natural (the movement of society)
o for change to be acceptable for progressive conservatives, change must be
respectful of tradition and past practices
o the main political theorist of progressive conservatism Edmond Burke
the great conservative thinker of respectful change (in relation to
tradition) the type of change conservatives are willing to accept
11 fundamental principles of conservatism
For conservatives, the meaning of the universe is given (this means that it is not constructed
by human beings)
universe = general sense: the physical world also as the human world
o not man made/ constructed by humans
the direction that the universe is moving in is also predetermined
o the movement is given
the given meaning of the universe and its predetermined movement must be allowed to
develop itself
o must be realized and free to develop itself in time and in history
o the uierse is ufoldig as it should important idea
o you must allow the universe to unfold as it should, must not force the universe
to change directions or hinder the movement of this predetermined universe
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the meaning of the universe predates the existence of human beings
o the meaning of the universe comes before our existence as a species
o therefore, human beings cannot give meaning the universe cannot be the
authors of the universe/ should not interfere with its progress
this entails that that the universe and its movement is the work of a supreme being -
o conservatives are very rarely atheist
this supreme being of the universe, disposes transcendental reason
o it is beyond common thought or experience (to go beyond)
o transcendental reason: a form of reason that goes beyond human understanding
for conservatives, this transcendental reason cannot be fully grasped by human beings
o we cannot fully understand it/ cannot put it in question
o we must accept that the universal order will remain a mystery
human nature is a part of this universal order
as such, human nature is fundamentally good
human nature contains a principle of good (for conservatives)
o this principle of good is in a constant struggle with a negative principle that
seeks to corrupt our natural goodness
to understand the negative principle, think of the notion of sin/passions/disorders
o all examples of negative principles that aim to corrupt natural goodness
o we must fight to remain within the good
constant struggle between principle of good and negative principles
this negative/inferior principle has the potential to dissolve the good principle
o negative principle may be inferior however, it remains powerful
sinners remain powerful and corrupt the soul
to become a fully realized human and to ensure happiness we must make sure that the
good principle ultimately triumphs over the negative principle
o we must fight against sins, passions, and disorders
o we must constantly fight against negative principles to ensure happiness
The triumph of the superior principle can only happen by submitting oneself to the order of
the universe
there are two ways to understand the given order of the universe:
o 1. Through religion
o 2. Through nature
human beings can learn only through trial and error
o human beings can help the universe realize itself (through trial and error)
o learn how to submit to universal life
the idea that we learn through trial and error explains why conservatives put so much
emphasis on tradition and experience
o both contain the wisdom necessary to help realize the natural order of things
o tradition/experience are born of previous trial and error
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