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Edmund Burke and rational dissent

Fitzpatrick, M and Page, A ORCID: 0000-0003-4240-4292 2017 , 'Edmund Burke and rational dissent', in P Jones and M Fitzpatrick (eds.), The Reception of Edmund Burke in Europe , Bloomsbury Publishing, London, pp. 55-73.

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This essay discusses the relationship between Edmund Burke and the rational Dissenters who were an important reformist element within the British Enlightenment. The first section examines Burke's attitude towards Dissent, especially rational Dissent; the second looks at Joseph Priestley's perception of Burke; and the final section looks at the attitude of a provincial rational Dissenter, Samuel Kenrick, through his correspondence with his Scottish friend Rev. James Wodrow. Rational Dissenters formed a loose but powerful grouping within Protestant Dissent. They were usually highly educated, liberal in theology and many were forcefully heterodox, becoming Unitarian in theology. In politics they were reformist, covering a spectrum from moderate to radical. They were considerable self-publicists and played a major role in the media. Forming 'a sort of cultural imperium in imperio' (Lincoln 1938, 53), and an incipient middle class, they were subject to discriminatory laws that gave an edge to their self-understanding. During the American Revolution they would be natural allies of Burke, but subsequently they would become his natural enemies. For Burke, as L. G. Mitchell has noted, 'religious dissent of all kinds acquired a demonic character' (Writings and Speeches, 8:8).

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Fitzpatrick, M and Page, A
Keywords: Edmund Burke, rational dissent
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2017 Martin Fitzpatrick and Peter Jones

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