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Reflections on the Revolution in France (Hackett Classics) Paperback – September 15, 1987
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Pocock is, without question, the leading historian of eighteenth-century British-American political thought. . . . All of his skills are brilliantly employed in the Introduction. . . . In addition to being the best treatment of Burke's thought in context, it is . . . the best and most concentrated presentation of Pocock's own view of the main contours of eighteenth-century political thought. . . . Finally, the Reflections and other texts by Burke are then woven into this rich fabric, thus providing the reader with an understanding of Burke's thought which is deeper and more complex (and surely more historically sensitive) than any available in the secondary literature. --James Tully, McGill University
Of all the scholars who currently study the history of Western political thought, no one is more fertile, eloquent, and ingenious than J. G. A. Pocock. --Keith Thomas, in the New York Review of Books
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Burke cited conditions in France prior to the French Revolution. He certainly did not give a false representation of the economic and social conditions in France, but he was clear that, while not perfect, the French had advanced culture and tolerable living standards. He also warned the French that abrupt changes without recourse to tradition and legal norms were dangerous and would end in tyranny. Readers should be aware that Burke's assessment of the French political system was that the French had reasonble politcal freedom and prosperity. To destroy this political system would end in political disruption, social and political violence, lack of law-and-order, and the rise of tyrannical military leaders.
One should note Burke's assessment of the members of the French National Assembly which was vacilating and subject to the whims of any "political interest group" was serious. He suggested that military officers would be among those "pleaders" would be military officers who would be difficult to control. He also warned that when someone who understood the art of command got control of the military officers, the days of the French Republic and the National Assembly were over.Read more ›
One of his most important principles is "prescription", by which the possession of property and authority are given (at least some) legitimacy by the passage of time. Burke did not oppose all change but believed that if things are going well then they are best left alone. He wrote "A state without the means of change is without the means of its conservation", but believed that change should be for "proved abuses". Burke saw society as organic, as a "partnership" bridging all generations. In typical Burkean language he wrote that citizens "should approach the faults of the state as to the wounds of a father, with pious awe and trembling solicitude." As in any natural organism change must be slow and gradual. He observed that "I do not like to see anything destroyed, any void produced in society." He was, of course, opposed to abstract theories that he thought at best irrelevant and at worst dangerous. Society, thought Burke, needed not abstract reasoning but practical and pragmatic statesmen. He was even more opposed to revolution for it leads to excesses and unintended results.
Not surprisingly Burke stresses the importance of codes of conduct, custom and what he called "prejudice". He writes of the "pleasing illusions" that constitute "the decent drapery of life". These "antient opinions and rules of life" include politeness, deference, the chivalrous treatment of women, the "spirit of a gentleman" and the "spirit of religion".Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've always heard of Burke, but never had occasion to read him until my book club decided to read Reflections. Read morePublished 29 days ago by M. Mueller
Came fast. Brand new condition. Great ready. Highly recommended.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
All the other reviews I've read have reviewed the book in isolation. It's better read with (either after or before) Thomas Carlyle's The French Revolution, both are deservedly... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Peter Kirsop
This edition of the "Reflections" contains a careful and thought-provoking introductory essay by L.G. Read morePublished 3 months ago by HH
I was very impressed by the power of writing and speech that Edmund Burke had in his opinion of the French Revolution. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Matthew
Edmund Burke has become the "Patron Saint" of Conservatism because of this book, however, his views on proper governance were totally opposed to those of our Founding... Read morePublished 6 months ago by James Kenney
Nor do I ever hope to again. I'm reading this book as part of my self improvement to get the liberal arts education I never had at college night school. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Trainman95630
Of course this is a conservative masterpiece--a brilliant statement of conservative principles. While sometime difficult to follow, it is not beyond comprehension.Published 7 months ago by Lewis Freiberg