Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents (1770)
Became the first political philosopher to argue the value of political parties.
Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)</li></li></ul><li>The Context of Burke<br /><ul><li>Lived in Britain in a time after the English Civil War and Glorious Revolution.
Constant political tensions between England and France.
His Irish background made him sympathetic towards Catholicism
Despite conservative leanings, was a product of the Enlightenment.</li></li></ul><li>Reflections on the Revolution in France<br />“Many of our men of speculation, instead of exploding general prejudices (traditions), employ their sagacity to discover the latent wisdom which prevails in them.”<br />“It is our pride to know, that man is by his constitution a religious animal; that atheism is against, not only our reason, but our instincts.”<br />“By a slow,, but well-sustained progress the effect of each step is watched… We compensate, we reconcile, we balance.”<br />“The improvements of the National Assembly are superficial, their errors fundamental.”<br />
The Dissection of Burke’s Intent<br /><ul><li>Letter was a response to French aristocrat Charles-Jean-François Depont.
Focused on the practicality of the way the government functions for its people rather than its metaphysical value; how do we facilitate getting food, rather than our right to having food and medicine.
Burke used this letter as a vehicle for trying to keep the British from imitating The French.
Burkes protestant background, philosophical, historical knowledge and extreme stake in the Whig party provided his hermeneutical lenses on his view of the revolution.
Burke eloquently advocates for the dangers that lie in democracy.
Brings to light the negative effects of an unchecked government system.</li></li></ul><li>Film Clip: A Tale of Two Cities (1958)<br />
Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859)<br /><ul><li>French politician and writer
He was prominent in politics, particularly just before and just after the Revolution of 1848
1831, went on a government mission to the United States to study the penal system
Which resulted in the writing of “Democracy in America”, one of the classics of political literature
Believed that political democracy and social equality would, inevitably, replace the aristocratic institutions of Europe
Analyzed the American effort to have both liberty and equality
Believed that Europe could learn from American’s by analyzing their successes and failures</li></li></ul><li>Tocqueville’s Accomplishments<br /><ul><li>Became deputy of the Manche department (region) of France, which he maintained for 21 years
Received permission, from the then ruling July Monarchy, to study prison reforms in America, spending nine months in the country
Elected as a member of the Constituent Academy which helped draft the new constitution of the Second Republic</li></li></ul><li>Tocqueville’s Major Works<br /><ul><li>De la démocratie en Amérique (Democracy in America 1835–40)
Written about observations made in 1831 during a government mission to the United States to study the penal system
L'Ancien Régime et la révolution (The Old Regime and Revolution 1856)
analyzes French society before the French Revolution and examines the causes and forces that caused the Revolution</li></li></ul><li>The Context of Tocqueville<br /><ul><li>Was a French politician during pivotal Moments in French political history; the </li></ul>Second Republic and Second Empire<br /><ul><li>Left politics during the rise of the Second</li></ul>French Empire where Louis Napoleon Bonaparte II lead a coup after losing an election.<br /><ul><li>Gave the perspective of an outsider to the </li></ul>American way of life at the time.<br /><ul><li>This outside perspective allowed deeper</li></ul>Critical analysis of the situation.<br />
Democracy in America<br /><ul><li>“They (Americans) have been allowed by their circumstances, their origin, their intelligence, and especially by their moral feeling, to establish and maintain the sovereignty of the people.”
“In America, religion is perhaps less powerful than it has been at certain periods… but it’s influence is more lasting.”
“The Americans have not required to extract their philosophical methods from books; they have found it in themselves.”
“The singular prosperity and growing strength of that people ought mainly to be attributed, I should reply- to the superiority of their women.”</li></li></ul><li>The Subtext of Tocqueville<br /><ul><li>Analyzes and describes the effects of social equality from a practical standpoint.
Tocqueville plays devils advocate to industrialization, public opinion, majority rule and democratic leadership
Tocqueville deviates from Burke; believes that a society can function on the basis of popular liberty versus Burke’s implications of the people possessing too much power in society.
Seeks to investigate as the central concern the balance of individual freedom, materialism and conformity in relation to an egalitarian order.
Solution to these problems is attempted to be resolved with a system of interest groups diffusing power while keeping the individuals in mind.</li></li></ul><li>Themes and Ideas<br /><ul><li>When does one become just to Act against their government? Does deep dissatisfaction lend itself to conservatism, or even liberalism for that matter?
Does conservatism as it was once Known truly exist anymore?
What does Tocqueville’s analysis Say about the notion of nations Which are critical of the U.S.?</li></li></ul><li>Questions for Discussion<br />Now that classical conservatism and liberalism have both been seen, what merits does one see to either of these systems? Is there any failing or something Burke or Tocqueville neglect?<br />How have classical conservatism and liberalism changed since the conception of these ideas? Is there merit to their evolution/devolution? Should these early ideals be found again?<br />Tocqueville is someone who was an outsider to the United States and provided a poignant analysis of the society of the time. Does it take someone from the outside to really see the inner workings, and what would some possibly say about the condition of today’s society, if it is possible to ponder such a thing?<br />
Sources Cited<br />Knoebel, Edgar E. "Edmund Burke: "Reflections on the Revolution in France", Alexis De Tocqueville, "Democracy in America"" The Modern World. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988. Print.<br />arris, Ian, "Edmund Burke", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2011/entries/burke/>. <br />"Tocqueville, Alexis de." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 1968. Retrieved October 17, 2011 from Encyclopedia.com: <http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3045001265.html><br />
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