The Burke-Wollstonecraft Debate: Savagery, Civilization, and Democracy

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Overview

Many modern conservatives and feminists trace the roots of their ideologies, respectively, to Edmund Burke (1729-1797) and Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), and a proper understanding of these two thinkers is therefore important as a framework for political debates today.

According to Daniel O'Neill, Burke is misconstrued if viewed as mainly providing a warning about the dangers of attempting to turn utopian visions into political reality, while Wollstonecraft is far more than just a proponent of extending the public sphere rights of man to include women. Rather, at the heart of their differences lies a dispute over democracy as a force tending toward savagery (Burke) or toward civilization (Wollstonecraft). Their debate over the meaning of the French Revolution is the place where these differences are elucidated, but the real key to understanding what this debate is about is its relation to the intellectual tradition of the Scottish Enlightenment, whose language of politics provided the discursive framework within and against which Burke and Wollstonecraft developed their own unique ideas about what was involved in the civilizing process.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271032016
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2007
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel I. O'Neill is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

1. The Scottish Enlightenment, the Moral Sense, and the Civilizing Process

2. Burke and the Scottish Enlightenment

3. Wollstonecraft and the Scottish Enlightenment

4. “The Most Important of All Revolutions”

5. Vindicating a Revolution in Morals and Manners

6. Burke on Democracy as the Death of Western Civilization

7. Wollstonecraft on Democracy as the Birth of Western Civilization

Conclusion

Bibliography

Index

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