Edmund Burke: Anti-Enlightenment

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In a lecture about ‘The Burkean Outlook’ at Yale, Dr. Ian Shapiro states that Edmund Burke was anti-enlightenment. This lecture was based on Burkes’s book called ‘The Reflections of the French Revolution’. This text provides a deep insight into the political philosophy Burke believed in and can help us to make analysis about Burke’s point character. This outlook, as the professor describes, is based on extreme distrust of not only science, but anybody who claims to have scientific knowledge. Edmund Burke was many things, but he was not Enlightened. He was a phenomenal orator, an effective statesman, a great writer and a devoted nationalist. Enlightenment was a condition, best described by Kant, as a man’s breakaway from a self-incurred immaturity…show more content…
Being able to understand without guidance 3. To have a rational approach of thinking and questioning One must study Burke’s actions and speeches to conclude whether he was indeed an enlightened thinker. There is no better case study for us to consider, for this purpose, then his persecution of Warren Hasting. The trial took more than a decade to reach its conclusion, and was a spectacle which would be remembered in the imperial history of Britain for a long time. In his book, ‘The reflection on the French Revolution’, Burke asserts his view on universal law very clearly. Burke believed that laws and rights were inherited and not universal. This is One of the biggest reasons he supported the American Revolution and not the French revolution. He believed that the American’s rights were by birth the British rights they inherited and even though they chose to immigrate, the British army was impeding their rights. The French, he argues, were disgracing the constitution and monarchy they had inherited. This opinion led to his eventual fallout with Philip Francis, a man who plays a very big role in the eventual impeachment of Warren…show more content…
And in one of his other speeches he criticizes the Indian agents, and them them for enticing Hastings as he otherwise would not be able to act as he did. Reserving his greatest scorn for Hastings’s principal agent, Krishna Nandy, he went on to castigate the entire breed. One of the most noticeable and recurring rhetoric used by Burke was his take on ‘Law’. The inconsistency of opinion he displays in his speeches is shocking. In the long duration of the trial, he changes his stance on Indian law to suit the narrative he was presenting at the time. From the chastity of ‘ancient oriental’ law of India, to the brutality of the law of India, he used whatever expression that would add to his case that day. In one of his speeches Burke talks exaltingly oh the Indian law, the Mohammadean law and the oriental justice, calling it as the most ‘enlightened jurisdiction’ to ever exist. In another instance he exclaims about the brutality on the law of Tamerlane, one he would not even want Hastings to be subjected to. but every now and then he betrays his true feelings. It was in moments like these, once gets insight into Burke’s thoughts that has not hiding behind the veil of his rhetoric and powerful
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