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The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot Paperback – September 1, 2001
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"Kirk tells his story of the conservative stream with the warmth that belongs to it. Even Americans who do not agree may feel the warmthand feel, perhaps, the wonder of conservative intuition and prophecy, speaking resonantly across the disappointing decades."
"Mr. Kirk has marshaled an impressive list of American and British conservative thinkers: men who are reacting against the collectivist universe on battlegrounds ranging from party politics to religion."
Frederick D. Wilhelmsen, Commonweal
"Prof. Kirk has succeeded remarkably well in distilling the essence from the voluminous writings of these men and in conveying the spirit of their thinking to his reader and a style that is never dull and often exciting."
John H. Hallowell, The Journal of Politics
From the Back Cover
David Frum, author of Dead Right
"Kirk is assured a place of prominence in the intellectual histories for helping to define the ethical basis of conservatism. He has tried to pull conservatism away from the utilitarian premises of libertarianism, toward which conservatism often veers, toward a philosophy rooted in ethics and culture."
The Wall Street Journal
"I have been one of your fans since the time many years ago when I read The Conservative Mind."
Top Customer Reviews
1) The Conservative assumes that the design of the world is not by accident, but by transcendental purpose. Metaphysical, permanent standards of Right and Wrong exist: moral standards are not relative. Similarly, the structure of society is not arbitrary. We should not attempt to alter society using science or social engineering, because we are strictly human, and our understanding is limited. Change, when it happens, should be modulated in such a way as to limit its effects on society.
2) A "natural aristocracy" exists in any society. It consists of the best and brightest individuals, and perhaps those born with reserves of wealth. No legislation or voter majority can eliminate it. John Adams defines a member of the natural aristocracy (in a Democracy) as anyone who has the power to influence at least one vote other than his own.
3) Individuals are born with certain Natural Rights, consisting primarily of property rights. Government should always act to protect property rights, especially in a Democracy, where the poorest elements of society may employ their voting power to redistribute the possessions of the wealthy few. A Democracy that gives unmitigated power to the people quickly deteriorates into the worst kind of tyranny.
4) Instincts and prejudices frequently have meaning: the individual may be foolsh, but the species is wise.Read more ›
The summaries are interesting and informative as description. Many of them (the chapters on Burke and John Adams, for instance, or the section on John Henry Newman) make great introductions to figures whose work can't be read in comprehensive political treatises and many provide intriguing introductions to writers you have probably never heard of (Sir James Fitzjames Stephen) or to the thought of people whom you don't know as political thinkers (say, John Randolph or Arthur Balfour).
Among the wealth of description, a little prescription creeps in. Kirk's heroes don't "argue" -- they "know," they "perceive," they "realize," they "understand." Kirk is highly sympathetic with the ideas he summarizes, and it is no coincidence that his final chapter, on twentieth century poets, is called "Conservatives' Promise" and contains some of the most hopeful writing in the book.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind is a book that displays impressive learning, deep feeling, and splendid literary style. Read morePublished 4 months ago by SockPuppet
Anyone interested in the history of the conservative movement should read at least one of Kirk's books, and this perhaps is his best.. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Daniel Olson
Russell Kirk considered himself to be a Burkean conservative. Actually, he was a reactionary who preferred the kind of society that existed in Europe and the New World before the... Read morePublished 8 months ago by John Engelman
I bought this to try to understand the roots of modern conservative political thought. I assumed, from reviews, it would be an objective and authoritative philosophical... Read morePublished 13 months ago by Displaced Minnesotan
Good writing is good communication; there can be no antagonism between the two. But this is very good writing, and one of the most important books of the twentieth century. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Mario Delucchi
Beware! This is the abridged version, which actually is stated in the most obscure way in the information about the book. Read morePublished 16 months ago by L. Taylor