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Chapter 13 - Burke and the Scottish Enlightenment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 January 2021

Max Skjönsberg
Affiliation:
University of Liverpool
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Summary

This final chapter considers Burke’s relationship to what may loosely be termed ‘enlightenment thought’ with an emphasis on Scotland. The Scottish thinkers particularly relevant for Burke were the usual suspects, including Hume, Adam Smith, Adam Ferguson, and William Robertson. Following the work of Isaiah Berlin, Burke is often read as a counter-Enlightenment thinker. But Burke was not the only ‘enlightenment’ luminary to be confounded by the French Revolution. Edward Gibbon was equally appalled, and it eventually disappointed even the likes of Paine and Sieyès as well. This chapter demonstrates that the differences between Burke and Hume were diminished when Burke was freed from partisanship. He now advanced a sceptical defence of party: it was not exclusively the Whigs, but the old Whig and Tory parties alike, which had sustained the British mixed and balanced constitution ‘by their collision and mutual resistance’. This chapter also considers Adam Smith’s thought on party and faction.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Persistence of Party
Ideas of Harmonious Discord in Eighteenth-Century Britain
, pp. 309 - 325
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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