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What was Vico's cyclical idea of history?
Vico believed that there are cultural patterns that dominate in different societies. Thus, law, religion, politics, art, and manners all tend to match up at any given time and place. For example, he drew connections between Athenian law and its pre-Socratic and Socratic philosophies. In his cyclical account of history, or what he called corsi e ricorsi, societies organically develop and then age and rot. He posited a bestial condition, a time of the gods, and a time of heroes, which also leads to oligarchies, or rule by the richest. This is followed by an age of men, characterized by class conflict, until the society decays. Vico applied this theory to the history of Rome, beginning with the mythical founders Romulus and Remus and ending with its overthrow by external barbarians.
From what did Vico believe the cycles of history originated?
Vico thought that God ordained the cycles of history in his "divine providence," an idea that Vico held to be compatible with the fact that human beings might have other aims or goals than what actually does transpire. This idea is believed to have been influential in Friedrich Hegel's (1770-1831) notion of "the cunning of reason." The general idea is that history always turns out to be something different from what people intended.
What were Edmund Burke's political background and beliefs?
Edmund Burke (1729-1797) was a member of the British House of Commons from 1765 to 1794. In his early career, which was more literary than philosophical, he propounded a romantic view of art. As a statesman, he resisted political and social change based on ideals and abstract ideas, although he supported political change that would reestablish proven rights or customs. For example, while he was opposed to the French Revolution for its ideals of "liberty, equality, fraternity," he was in favor of the Irish movement for independence and the American Revolution.
What are some key facts about Edmund Burke's life?
Edmund Burke was born in Ireland in 1729. He attended Trinity College in Dublin, and then moved to London, hoping to read law, but he was never "called to the bar." Instead, he wrote A Vindication of Natural Society and Philosophical Inquiry into Our Ideas on the Sublime and the Beautiful, both published in 1756 by the bookseller Robert Dodley, who also commissioned him to write an Abridgement of the History of England, which he never completed. His Vindication was deliberately written in the style of the Tory statesman Lord Bollingbroke, who in overblown ways praised a pure state of nature compared to civilization. Although Burke argued for the opposite, his imitation of Bollingbroke was so convincing that many readers thought Bollingbroke had written it.
Burke's theory of art was opposed to the classicist value of clarity. He thought that great art is mysterious and evocative and that the sublime inspires fear. He wrote: "It is our ignorance of things that causes all our admiration and chiefly excites our passions."
What were Burke's main ideas in political theory?
Edmund Burke was a Christian pessimist who believed that there was real evil in the world and that inequality was inevitable. According to Burke, the best prospect for human society was to cling to traditions and customs that had proved their stability over generations. He thought that the French Revolution showed how great harm resulted from attempts to change society. Such attempts at change, motivated by abstract ideals, led to "false hopes and vain expectations in those destined to travel in the obscure walk of laborious life." In his 1790 Reflections on the Revolution in France, he called talk of fraternity "cant and gibberish."
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