Edmund Burke and Constitutional Historicity

Shortly after the French Revolution began, and not far removed from the adoption of the American constitution, there appeared a pamphlet by the title Reflections on the Revolution in France. Edmund Burke’s publication inaugurated the pamphlet wars in Britain. It also established his reputation as the father of “modern conservatism”—though he is certainly not the first … Continue reading Edmund Burke and Constitutional Historicity

Joseph De Maistre: The Metaphysics of the French Revolution

“Evil has nothing in common with life; it cannot create, since its power is purely negative.  Evil is the schism of being; it is not true.  Now what distinguishes the French Revolution and makes it an event unique in history is that it is radically bad.”  Those are the words of Franco-Savoyard lawyer and diplomat … Continue reading Joseph De Maistre: The Metaphysics of the French Revolution

Edmund Burke’s Critique of the French Revolution

Edmund Burke looms large in the history of political philosophy and the philosophy of critique for a divided legacy of either being the first modern conservative or a very moderate liberal.  Likewise, he offered up one of the first systematic critiques of the French Revolution which began the “Pamphlet Wars” in England which divided the … Continue reading Edmund Burke’s Critique of the French Revolution

Rousseau: The Second Discourse on Inequality

Rousseau’s second discourse on inequality builds from his first.  The second discourse contains his famous depiction of the noble savage, how man loses his freedom and equality through the establishment of property and society, and his ruminations about how reason corrupts human living and how knowledge is used as a tool of oppression and violence.  … Continue reading Rousseau: The Second Discourse on Inequality

Rousseau: The Social Contract, IV

Moving into the final book of Rousseau’s Social Contract, we see the final touches to Rousseau’s politics of unanimity and legitimization.  This is the most important thing to recognize in Rousseau, and what separates him from Hobbes and Locke.  Rousseau is thoroughly “democratic,” he seeks all persons to set aside their differences and personal pursuits … Continue reading Rousseau: The Social Contract, IV

Rousseau: The Social Contract, II

The first two books of the Social Contract are the most important and enduring within Rousseau’s tract, though the fourth book is also important for understanding the establishment of civil religion and the French Revolution’s anti-Catholic militancy.  Nevertheless, the second book of the Social Contract continues to examine the relationship of sovereignty and general will … Continue reading Rousseau: The Social Contract, II

Rousseau: The Social Contract, I

Jean-Jacques Rousseau is a widely important philosopher of the mid to late 18th century.  Born in Geneva, but making his name in France, Rousseau is associated with having given the intellectual foundation for the French Revolution, is remembered as the Prophet of the Romantics with regard to analysis and criticism of emerging (sterile) bourgeois materialistic … Continue reading Rousseau: The Social Contract, I