POLS 1000 Lecture Notes - Lecture 15: French Revolution, Human Nature, The Good Life
Course CodePOLS 1000
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January 30, 2019
POLS 1000 Introduction to Politics – Lecture Week 15
Review on Last Week
• The events of the French revolution will be so important that it will actually change the makeup
of society; those who used to rule, will be ruled, those who didn’t have political power will have
• The social landscape in the years following the French revolution will be chaotic, this of course
will have to do with what happens to society after industrialization/urbanization occurs.
• Two anti-liberal ideologies emerge: socialism and conservativism
o Both these ideologies will attempt to replace liberalism.
• It is only recently that we started using the term conservative/conservativism to define an
o A Frenchman will invent the term who is an Aristocrat by the name of Chateaubriand –
• In England, the tory party will become the British conservative party in 1882.
• As an ideology, conservatism is born in the wake of the French revolution.
• This does not mean that the idea behind conservatism is a new one. After all, one of the basic
questions a community has to ask is: where there be change or will things stay the same?
• As a position the conservative position appears almost naturally in any given community.
• There are two major misconceptions that hinder our understanding of conservative ideology:
1. Tendency to reduce conservatism to an expression of nostalgia (that would seek to restore an
old or outdated way of life)
2. To consider that conservatism is against all types of change.
o Conservative thought is not against change and will actually factor in the idea of change
o E.g. Edmond Burke will write reflection on the revolution of France. He argues that
change must be slow, gradual and it must take into account past experience. Change must
be respectful of past practices and traditions.
o Conservatism does not simply want to turn back the clocks and return to a previous social
• Like liberalism, conservatism is a complex ideology.
Eleven Fundamental Principles that Comprise Conservativism
1. For conservatives, the meaning of the universe is given; it is not constructed (by human beings).
o The term universe must be understood in a large sense. It is not only the physical world,
but it is also the human world.
o The direction of the universe is also pre-determined.
o The given meaning of the universe and its pre-determined direction must be developed in
time and history. We must allow the universe to unfold as it should.
o The meaning of the universe predates the existence of human beings. This is why we
cannot be the authors of the meaning of the universe. There is a Supreme Being/God.
o It is the world/universe which confers meaning to us.
o This God has a Transcendental Reason; something mysterious that we can never figure.
o We can’t have access to this transcendental reason, and we can’t question it therefore we
are to accept the mysteries of the universe.
o The universal order is in part a mystery.
2. Human nature is a part of this universal order and because human nature partakes in this order,
human nature is fundamentally good. Human nature contains a principle of good.
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