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POLS 1000 Study Guide - Final Guide: Joseph De Maistre

Political Science
Course Code
POLS 1000
Martin Breaugh
Study Guide

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3. Explain the importance of hierarchy for conservatism
- As one of the fundamental principles of conservatism, hierarchy plays a crucial role
- Since the meaning of the universe is given for conservative thinkers, our role in society
is already pre-determined. This can be observed through the importance of hierarchy
- We can see this by: the universal order of things, the role of reason, and social discipline
Paragraph 1: universal order
- Human relationships must recreate the universal order already given
- They must be organized by a hierarchy that is build on values & to a lesser extent merit
- They prefer hierarchy as the organized principle of society = conservatives reject
- For them equality is too abstract - contrary to the nature of things
- Though they are in favour of diversity amongst themselves, they are against the lower
class believing they are equal to the higher class
- Peasants thinking they are equal to kings
- The priority given to diversity will bring conservatives to favour ‘natural institutions of
society ( The church, marriage, monarchy) = natural because they withstood test of time
- Overall society must reproduce universal order = government in conservative thought
must ensure peace & stability - necessary to realize the perfect order
Paragraph 2: the role of reason
- Contrary to liberalism, reason does not play a central role
- Pure and abstract reason is dangerous by virtue that it denies reality and disregards
tradition and experience
- Must refuse reason that is too abstract - so they emphasize common sense
- So for conservative thinkers “ all men are equal” is too abstract and denies reality and
the nature of things which is hierarchy
- Joseph de maistre: he says we are all born into pre existing culture
- Impossible to think of man abstractly
- Additionally to reason , freedom is also sceptical. Freedom is only legitimate if one
submits to the pre-existing order
- Conservatives will distrust all abstract attempts to reform society , so in fact individuals
cannot move from their place within hierarchy.
Paragraph 3: social discipline
- Government must impose social discipline so they can realize their objective
- Individuals MUST be obliged to respect tradition and the order of things
- This social discipline is founded on the respect of the principles of a particular order
- So they must legislate and be guided by tradition of the traditional order
- Government will then promote traditional values and promote the respect for hierarchies
using law and education.
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