Presenting a scathing attack on the French revolution's attitudes to existing institutions, property and religion, this work makes a cogent case for upholding inherited rights and established customs. It argues for piecemeal reform rather than revolutionary change, and deplores the influence the revolution might have in Britain.
This work is far more than an eloquent piece of occasional writing. For Burke is one of the foremost conservative British political thinkers: in his support for piecemeal reform rather than revolutionary change, in his sceptical belief in expediency and practical wisdom rather than abstract theorizing, and in his defence of property, religion and traditional institutions. On all these topics Burke gave a definitive expression to a set of attitudes still at the heart of contemporary controversies, and yet he was no mere unthinking reactionary. Rather, as Conor Cruise O'Brien shows in his introduction, he was an Irishman with a good deal of smypathy for the “revolutionary” Catholic cause - a latent sympathy which, paradoxically, may explain some of the power of this work.
(1729 - 97) was born in Dublin and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. In 1750 he entered the MIddle Temple in London but soon left law for literature. His Philosophical Enquiry into the Sublime and the Beautiful influenced many writers of the Romantic period. An MP in the Whig Party, he championed the cause of Catholic emancipation and was involved in the governing India. Conor Cruise O'Brien is Emeritus Professor of the University of Dublin. In 1955 he was Counsellor in Paris and head of the United Nations section on Ireland from 1956 - 1960. He has been a professor at NYU, St Catherine's College, Oxford and at Dartmouth College in the USA. He has written on subjects including Ireland, Israel and the French Revolution.