Paine vs Burke

Topics: Age of Enlightenment, Liberalism, United States Declaration of Independence Pages: 2 (591 words) Published: March 31, 2013
These two writers are talked about together, since they differed in their reaction to the French Revolution. They also represent two opposing ideologies: conservatism and radical liberalism. Some would say that Burke is more a true philosopher than Paine, but in my view this is not fair, and both are important: Burke for warning of the dangers of trying to shape society according to abstract concepts and ideals, and as a representative of traditional English Conservatism; Paine for foreseeing the welfare state, as well as American independence from Britain. Burke was born in Ireland, and went to London in 1750. Though Burke was a harsh critic of the French Revolution, he supported the right of America to gain independence from Britain. He supported the Americans because he believed revolution to be justified in order to regain or restore something lost. The slogan “no taxation without representation” was based on his arguments. He not only opposed the French Revolution but was deeply shocked by it. He agreed that the aristocrats had not been carrying out their responsibilities well, but thought it would be better to return to an order which did work than to bring in a new, untried system. In 1790 he wrote Reflections on the Revolution in France. Burke’s other objections to the French revolutionaries were that ideas of natural rights were dangerous, as they could be taken to extremes by anyone. Tom Paine had the most extraordinary life – as an active political figure in Revolutionary America and Revolutionary France, and even spending time in prison. He was born in Thetford, Norfolk, and the son of a stay-maker. In Norfolk he saw the effects of the enclosures. His Parents were Quakers, and seem to have been somewhat puritan. His father would not allow him to study Latin as the Roman authors were thought not to be good examples. Although Paine was not a systematic philosopher, it is possible to draw the following ideas from his writings. Common sense was a...
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