The Burke-Wollstonecraft Debate
Savagery, Civilization, and Democracy
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: Penn State University Press
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This book has been a very long time in the making. It bears little resemblance to its first formulation as a dissertation, and I daresay that I can mark major moments in my adult life—personally, professionally, and geographically—by recalling what phase of reading, writing, or revision the project was in at the time. ...
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For more than two centuries, conservatism and feminism have been driving ideological forces in Western political thought. What concerns initially animated these two powerful modern theoretical perspectives? That is the fundamental question at the heart of this book. ...
1 The Scottish Enlightenment, the Moral Sense, and the Civilizing Process
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In the past thirty years, a number of scholars have demonstrated the unique intellectual contribution made by a group of like-minded eighteenth-century Scots who were closely affiliated, both personally and professionally, and self-consciously unified around an identifiable theoretical project. ...
2 Burke and the Scottish Enlightenment
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When it comes to reading Edmund Burke, there are an astonishing number of preexisting theoretical frameworks in the secondary literature. There is, to be sure, a good deal to be learned from all of these readings. We have had Burke as a liberal of the nineteenth-century utilitarian1 and anti-imperial2 variety, ...
3 Wollstonecraft and the Scottish Enlightenment
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Jane Rendall, in particular, has demonstrated that the theoretical status of women was central to Scottish Enlightenment moral philosophy and historiography, and that the Scots articulated a unique and influential understanding of women’s changing role and social position over time.1 ...
4 "The Most Important of all Revolutions"
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One of the most remarkable aspects of Edmund Burke’s interpretation of the French Revolution was the early date at which he became passionately and irrevocably opposed to it. The Reflections appeared in 1790, years before Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and the other members of the royal family were executed, ...
5 Vindicating a Revolution in Morals and Manners
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Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Men was the first published reply to Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France. She wrote it hastily. Burke’s work appeared on the first of November 1790, and her answer, initially anonymous, was in print by the end of the month. ...
6 Burke on Democracy as the Death of Western Civilization
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Burke claimed never to have read Wollstonecraft’s reply to him, despite its having been sent directly to his home.1 Nevertheless, it is clear from his letter to Mrs. John Crewe, quoted above, that he counted Wollstonecraft as one of a new brand of politically active women who were ingenious and evil supporters of the French Revolution, ...
7 Wollstonecraft on Democracy as the Birth of Western Civilization
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In this final chapter, I take up Mary Wollstonecraft’s least-read work, her history of the French Revolution. My argument is that Wollstonecraft’s text can be interpreted as the third installment of a response to Burke’s narrative of the Revolution as the death of Western civilization and its devolution into democratic savagery. ...
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The broad question at the heart of this book was how two of the canonical figures of modern conservatism and feminism interpreted the foundational event of political modernity, the French Revolution. I conclude that we misunderstand Burke if we see his writings as a cautious antidote to the type of grandiose political scheming ,,,
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Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2007