An Analysis of Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France

An Analysis of Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France
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Description: Edmund Burke's 1791 Reflections on the Revolution in France is a strong example of how the thinking skills of analysis and reasoning can support even the most rhetorical of arguments. Often cited as the foundational work of modern conservative political thought, Burke's Reflections is a sustained argument against the French Revolution. Though Burke is in many ways not interested in rational close analysis of the arguments in favour of the revolution, he points out a crucial flaw in revolutionary thought, upon which he builds his argument. For Burke, that flaw was the sheer threat that revolution poses to life, property and society. Sceptical about the utopian urge to utterly reconstruct society in line with rational principles, Burke argued strongly for conservative progress: a continual slow refinement of government and political theory, which could move forward without completely overturning the old structures of state and society. Old state institutions, he reasoned, might not be perfect, but they work well enough to keep things ticking along. Any change made to improve them, therefore, should be slow, not revolutionary. While Burke's arguments are deliberately not reasoned in the 'rational' style of those who supported the revolution, they show persuasive reasoning at its very best.

 

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Description: Reflections on the Revolution in France : Paperback : Penguin Books Ltd : 9780140432046 : 0140432043 : 16 Dec 1982 : Presenting a scathing attack on the French revolution's attitudes to existing institutions, property and religion, this work makes a cogent case for upholding inherited rights and established customs. It argues for piecemeal reform rather than revolutionary change, and deplores the influence the revolution might have in Britain.

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Description: Edmund Burke was the dominant political thinker of the last quarter of the eighteenth century in England. His reputation depends less on his role as a practising politician than on his ability to set contemporary problems within a wider context of political theory. Above all, he commented on change. He tried to teach lessons about how change should be managed, what limits should not be transgressed, and what should be reverently preserved. Burke's generation was much in need of advice on these matters. The Industrial Revolution, the American Revolution, and catastrophically, the French Revolution presented challenges of terrible proportions. They could promise paradise or threaten anarchy. Burke was acutely aware of how high the stakes were. The Reflections on the Revolution in France was a dire warning of the consequences that would follow the mismanagement of change. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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