Edmund Burke: Champion of Ordered Liberty

Jul 10, 2018 by

by John Attarian, The Imaginative Conservative:

Edmund Burke’s greatest service to liberty was to remind the world that freedom is anchored in a transcendent moral order and that for liberty to flourish, social and per­sonal order and morality must exist, and radical innovations must be shunned…

Edmund Burke (1729-1797) is rightly renowned as the father of conservatism. In this bicentennial year of his death, we do well to recall that Burke was also a cham­pion of ordered liberty. A practical politi­cian and statesman as well as a profound philosopher, skilled alike in writing and oratory, Burke devoted his public life to defending natural rights and liberties and battling arbitrary government, in America, Ireland, India, and, most famously, France.

Burke was born in Dublin on January 12, 1729, and educated at Trinity College. After studying law in Dublin for two years, he went to the Middle Temple in London to complete preparation for the bar, but for­sook law, opting to become a man of letters.[1]

Besides mastering law, Burke steeped himself in the major writers on Natural Law philosophy, such as Cicero and St. Thomas Aquinas. This philosophy main­tains, essentially, that God rules existence through an eternal, immutable, universal Natural Law, always binding on all people everywhere. Man-made laws are morally valid insofar as they conform to the Natu­ral Law; otherwise, they are not. Under Natural Law, people possess certain inalienable rights, namely to life, liberty, and property. As leading Burke scholar Peter Stanlis has convincingly shown, Burke believed in the Natural Law, and it was the foundation of his worldview.[2]

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