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Lecture 16

Lecture 16 - Conservatism

Political Science
Course Code
POLS 1000
Martin Breaugh

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Lecture 16
Did people actually believe in their ideology?
Conservative Ideology
Aristocrats and merchants actually have a sincere belief of their ideologies
Ideologies will act as secular religions
Effects of liberalism
o Liberalism will transform social landscape, displace certain social forces
o Liberalism will create and generate new social forces
o Liberalism will create modern working class
2 specific anti-liberal ideologies will emerge in the 19th century, conservatism and socialism
Both will attempt to put in question the hegemony of the liberal, liberal thought and
Liberalism’s oldest and most lasting adversary – conservatism
Conservatism is a complex ideology, cannot be reduced to 2 misconceptions (don’t like
change, and nostalgic, want to return to the good old days)
11 fundamental principles
1) For conservatives, the meaning of the universe is given, it is not constructed by human
a) Universe is the physical and human world
b) The direction of which the universe is going pre-determined
c) The given meaning and pre-determined movement must be developed and realized
naturally overtime
d) It’s important not to interfere with the meaning and movement
e) The meaning of universe predates the existence of human
f) Because of above, human cannot confer the meaning of the world
g) Because of this, the universe is a product of a superior being, or God
h) Indeed, conservatives are only vary rarely Atheist
i) Conservatives this superior being disposes transcendental reason (beyond reason)
j) We cannot have full access to this reason, we cannot fully understand it, and
cannot put it into question
k) Humans are to accept this transcendental reason
l) Meaning and direction of the universe remains for most part a mystery
2) Human nature is part of this universal order
a) Human nature is fundamentally good
b) Human nature contains a principle of good
c) But this principle of good is in a constant struggle with a negative principle (sin,
passion, vice), this negative principle can corrupt our natural goodness
d) Manifestation of negative principles is also contained within us
e) Human being is always contained in a locus of struggle between the 2 principles
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f) Problem is, if we let the negative principle overtake who we are, it can dissolve the
good principle
g) If we want to become fully realized human beings (be happy), we must constantly
fight against the negative principle in order for the superior principles to triumph
3) In order for the superior principle to triumph over the principle of the bad, we have to
submit ourselves to the order of the universe
a) The given order of the universe is mysterious and cannot be known to humans
b) Conservatives say religion can tell us what order of the universe is
c) Order of universe can also be revealed through nature
d) Human beings can only learn through trial and error
e) It is through trial and error that we come to understand the given order of the
f) We can understand how we can submit ourselves to this universal order
g) Despite the best efforts of religion, this universal principle will remain unintelligible
h) Idea of trial and error to understand the order of the universe will explain the
importance the conservatives will give to both experience and tradition
i) Both experience and tradition contain the wisdom we need in order to realize the
order of the universe
j) We must revere the experience of the past and traditions that had withstood the
test of time
4) For conservatives, the goal of life and meaning of existence is not simply to live and to
be happy (what liberals believe)
a) Conservatives believe we must strive to live the good life, and that’s the goal of
human existence
b) Good life should not be understood as cigars, cars, and luxury homes, for
conservatives the good life is the upright life, honest life
c) Both come with the triumph of the superior principle over the inferior principle
d) Life is worth living in as much as we ensure the triumph of the superior principle
e) Living such as life will give truth value and meaning to our existence
5) Contrary to liberal thought, reason does not play a major role in conservative thought
a) Reason will play a limited role because reason itself is limited
b) If we were to use reason, we have to make sure actions guided by reasons take into
account experience and traditions
c) For conservatives, pure and abstract reason is dangerous because it refuses reality
and engages in theory (conservatives don’t like theory)
d) Human experience teaches us much more than theory and abstract reason
i) Experience is more telling than book knowledge
e) For conservatives, we should not trust reason that is not informed by experience
f) This is why conservatives will defend “common sense (name given by some to
experience that teaches of the limits of reason)
g) So we can say that conservatives are sceptical of universal and abstract principles
and sceptical of all political projects born of such abstract and theoretical principles
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