The Enlightenment Period

Counter-Enlightenment Figures

What were Burke’s main ideas in political theory?

Edmund Burke was a Christian pessimist who believed that there was real evil in the world and that inequality was inevitable. According to Burke, the best prospect for human society was to cling to traditions and customs that had proved their stability over generations. He thought that the French Revolution showed how great harm resulted from attempts to change society. Such attempts at change, motivated by abstract ideals, led to “false hopes and vain expectations in those destined to travel in the obscure walk of laborious life.” In his 1790 Reflections on the Revolution in France, he called talk of fraternity “cant and gibberish.”


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