Friday Filosophy v.10.28.2022
In Friday Filosophy v.10.28.2022, our Founder Ron Slee shares quotes and words of wisdom from the economist Edmund Burke.
Edmund Burke; 12 January 1729 – 9 July 1797 was an Irish–British statesman, economist, and philosopher. Born in Dublin, Burke served as a member of Parliament (MP) between 1766 and 1794 in the House of Commons of Great Britain with the Whig Party.
Burke was a proponent of underpinning virtues with manners in society and of the importance of religious institutions for the moral stability and good of the state. These views were expressed in his A Vindication of Natural Society. He criticized the actions of the British government towards the American colonies, including its taxation policies. Burke also supported the rights of the colonists to resist metropolitan authority, although he opposed the attempt to achieve independence. He is remembered for his support for Catholic emancipation, the impeachment of Warren Hastings from the East India Company, and his staunch opposition to the French Revolution.
In his Reflections on the Revolution in France, Burke asserted that the revolution was destroying the fabric of good society and traditional institutions of state and society and condemned the persecution of the Catholic Church that resulted from it. This led to his becoming the leading figure within the conservative faction of the Whig Party which he dubbed the Old Whigs as opposed to the pro–French Revolution New Whigs led by Charles James Fox.
In the 19th century, Burke was praised by both conservatives and liberals. Subsequently, in the 20th century, he became widely regarded, especially in the United States, as the philosophical founder of conservatism.
In 1744, Burke started at Trinity College Dublin, a Protestant establishment which up until 1793 did not permit Catholics to take degrees. In 1747, he set up a debating society Edmund Burke’s Club which in 1770 merged with TCD’s Historical Club to form the College Historical Society, the oldest undergraduate society in the world. The minutes of the meetings of Burke’s Club remain in the collection of the Historical Society. Burke graduated from Trinity in 1748. Burke’s father wanted him to read Law and with this in mind he went to London in 1750, where he entered the Middle Temple, before soon giving up legal study to travel in Continental Europe. After eschewing the Law, he pursued a livelihood through writing.
In 1757, Burke published a treatise on aesthetics titled A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful that attracted the attention of prominent Continental thinkers such as Denis Diderot and Immanuel Kant. It was his only purely philosophical work and when asked by Sir Joshua Reynolds and French Laurence to expand it thirty years later, Burke replied that he was no longer fit for abstract speculation (Burke had written it before he was nineteen years of age).
On 12 March 1757, Burke married Jane Mary Nugent (1734–1812), daughter of Dr. Christopher Nugent, a Catholic physician who had provided him with medical treatment at Bath. Their son Richard was born on 9 February 1758 while an elder son, Christopher, died in infancy. Burke also helped raise a ward, Edmund Nagle (later Admiral Sir Edmund Nagle), the son of a maternal cousin orphaned in 1763.
At about this same time, Burke was introduced to William Gerard Hamilton (known as “Single-speech Hamilton”). When Hamilton was appointed Chief Secretary for Ireland, Burke accompanied him to Dublin as his private secretary, a position he held for three years. In 1765, Burke became private secretary to the liberal Whig politician Charles, Marquess of Rockingham, then Prime Minister of Great Britain, who remained Burke’s close friend and associate until his untimely death in 1782.
- Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.
- The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.
- When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.
- The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.
- All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.
- The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse.
- Beauty is the promise of happiness.
- To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.
- Good order is the foundation of all things.
- People crushed by laws, have no hope but to evade power. If the laws are their enemies, they will be enemies to the law; and those who have most to hope and nothing to lose will always be dangerous.
- To tax and to please, no more than to love and to be wise, is not given to men.
- No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.
- The arrogance of age must submit to be taught by youth.
- Flattery corrupts both the receiver and the giver.
- He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.
- We must all obey the great law of change. It is the most powerful law of nature.
- But what is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.
- Whatever disunites man from God, also disunites man from man.
- When the leaders choose to make themselves bidders at an auction of popularity, their talents, in the construction of the state, will be of no service. They will become flatterers instead of legislators; the instruments, not the guides, of the people.
- Nothing turns out to be so oppressive and unjust as a feeble government.
- It is, generally, in the season of prosperity that men discover their real temper, principles, and designs.
- Free trade is not based on utility but on justice.
- Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom; and a great empire and little minds go ill together.
The Time is Now.