History: E457_Burke

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Assigned: Reflections on the Revolution in France (121-128). Use Burke Etext if Norton not available.

1. On 122-23, Burke explains the relationship between nature and "artificial institutions." Why is nature, as Burke defines it, a vital component in the maintenance of civil society and political culture? To what extent, at this point and elsewhere, does Burke value reason?

2. On 123 and elsewhere, Burke suggests that chivalry is central to his ideal of civic life and governance. How do you understand the term "chivalry," and why is it so important to Burke's argument? How is this term connected to the concept of social rank or status?

3. On 123, Burke writes, "we procure reverence to our civil institutions on the principle upon which nature teaches us to revere individual men." Such statements run directly counter to America's founders, who insist that we should be "a nation of laws, not of men." To what extent do you think that a country can be a nation of laws and not of individuals?

4. On 123-24, Burke offers suggestive remarks about the French Revolution's principle of equality and poverty. What do you suppose Burke would say about modern ideas concerning social welfare, income redistribution, and so forth?

5. On 124-25, Burke describes the revolutionaries' treatment of the French King Louis XVI and his Queen, Marie Antoinette. What is the rhetorical function of such passages?

6. On 126-28, Burke returns to a philosophical exposition of his principles. What does he think is to be gained by a "mixed system of opinion and sentiment" (126 top)? What is wrong with the philosophy of the revolutionaries and what bad consequences, according to Burke, will flow from their errors?

Abrams, M. H. et al. The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Vol. 2A. 7th ed. ISBN 2A = 0393975681.

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