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Title: Edmund Burke's ideas on history
Author: Sato, Sora
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2013
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Edmund Burke's view of history is an aspect of his thought which has, despite the wide recognition of its importance, been neglected by commentators. Drawing particular attention to his views on the specific histories of different parts of the world, this dissertation attempts to reveal a comprehensive analysis of them. According to Burke, England had achieved substantial progress over the course of history by retaining its ancient constitution, overcoming various political crises and relying upon other factors such as public credit, divine providence and sheer chance. While European nations had achieved gradual growth, Burke thought that Europe had been in a state of barbarism and confusion from ancient times until the sixteenth century. In their Account of the European Settlements in America, William and Edmund Burke put forward their detailed accounts of the European settlements on the American continent. Taking into consideration Burke's comments on the topic in this work as well as in his other works, the American Indians had, in his view, remained barbarous for a considerable period of time, whereas Burke regarded the colonists of British North America as having developed a unique society, although they still retained European manners and systems. He also seems to have been interested in a revision of contemporary Irish historiography. Although Ireland had benefited from her status as a member of the British Empire, one of the reasons for the halting progress of her society was English lack of respect for Irish manners, especially the long-established persecution of the Roman Catholics. Until around 1782, Burke stereotypically considered Asia, including India, to be historically despotic. Thereafter, however, he changed his mind and frequently contended that Asia had been flourishing until recently, citing that religions, such as Hinduism and Islam, and the rulers of the region had hardly allowed arbitrary power to be exercised. Nevertheless, he was still at times critical of Mahomet, the early Muslims and others. The late Burke occasionally put forward contradictory remarks on Asian-Muslim nations. Burke's view of history is progressive and a great variety of civilisations can be generated so long as humans act rightly. Nations can, however, be unstable, since their fortunes can fluctuate in an unexpected manner.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available