The Moral Basis of Burke's Political Thought: An Essay

The Moral Basis of Burke's Political Thought: An Essay

The Moral Basis of Burke's Political Thought: An Essay

The Moral Basis of Burke's Political Thought: An Essay

Excerpt

This essay is an attempt to identify the moral basis on which Burke's political thought rests. It is commonly affirmed that the peculiar genius of Burke lay in his capacity to contemplate the sphere of politics under the aspect of moral law, to reach out for the unchanging principles of morality in the contingencies of political action. Yet the study of his political thought hardly seems to have followed up the implication of this truth, or to have accorded the moral question the priority which it deserves. If, in Burke's opinion, 'the principles of true politics are those of morality enlarged', the most important question to ask about Burke must be what precisely, for him, the principles of morality were.

Failure to meet this problem squarely hinders an adequate grasp of the basis of Burke's political theory, because it leaves the full depth of his conception unplumbed. It makes inevitable the resort to a formula such as that of Utility, which lops off all that is most characteristic and profound in Burke's ideas in order to fit them to a superficial general concept. Interpretation is based on ideas like Prescription, or . . .

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