Reflections of the Revolution in France

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Edmund Burke

Throughout history philosophers have attempted to explain the ins and outs of human society. These explanations have helped shape our perception of the world and the society we live in. One such philosopher is Edmund Burke, the father of modern conservatism.

Considering Burke's stance on the American Revolution, it is quite surprising that he strongly opposed the French Revolution. In his most well known work, Reflections on the revolution in France, Burke argued that the revolution went against the rights of all the people involved and against the conventions that held their society together.

Burke believed that living in a society, people have an equal opportunity to do anything for their self preservation and happiness as long as it does not interfere with that of others, and ‘‘in this partnership all men have equal rights, but not to equal things''. He also believed, however, that people have no right to that which can hurt them or is beyond reason. This is how he felt about the French revolution because he believed that it wouldn't lead to peace or democracy but to self destruction and anarchy.

Burke stated that ‘‘Society requires not only that the passions of individuals should be subjected, but that even in the mass and body, as well as in the individuals, the inclinations of men should be frequently thwarted" This meant that he believed for people to run a government and keep a prosperous society people must abandon their reckless and careless nature. They need to adopt a lifestyle of moderation, because releasing these passions/desires would have a catastrophic effect on society. Therefore men need an outside power to judge their actions in a fair and balanced way as possible by that power.

If civil society be the offspring of convention, then that convention must be the law which it abides by. That convention must limit and modify all the descriptions of constitutions which are created under it. Every sort of...
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