Ab­stract dan­gers

The Washington Times Weekly - - Culture, Etc. -

“To de­fine what ‘con­ser­va­tive’ in fact means, the place to turn is Ed­mund Burke, the founder of mod­ern po­lit­i­cal phi­los­o­phy, the first po­lit­i­cal thinker to base his thought on em­pir­i­cal fact and on his­tory. [. . .]

“Burke does not be­gin with hy­po­thet­i­cal ‘states of na­ture’ but with the facts of his­tory and hu­man be­hav­ior. His great break­through into new ter­ri­tory — he wrote that he had been ‘alarmed into re­flec­tion’ by the com­pletely unique events in France — came in his ‘Re­flec­tions on the Revo­lu­tion in France’ (1790). [. . .]

“What Burke faced in the rad­i­cal philosophes across the Chan­nel was some­thing new: an ac­tual so­ci­ety in France be­ing at­tacked by ab­stract ‘rights of man.’ To this he op­posed the his­toric lib­er­ties of Eng­land. He saw the ab­strac­tion­based at­tack on an ac­tual so­ci­ety as some­thing new in his­tory — and in­her­ently dan­ger­ous.”

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