The Useful Cobbler

Edmund Burke and the Politics of Progress

By James Conniff

Subjects: British Studies
Paperback : 9780791418444, 363 pages, July 1994
Hardcover : 9780791418437, 363 pages, July 1994

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


1. Introduction: The Significance of Edmund Burke

2. Burke and the Search for the Psychological Basis of Human Action

3. The Whiggism of History and the History of Whiggism

4. Burke on the Foundations and Nature of Government

5. Burke on the Nature and Extent of State Authority

6. The Politics of Trusteeship

7. Political Parties and Their Uses

8. The Decline and Fall of the Theory of Sovereignty

9. The French Revolution and the Crisis of European Civilization

10. Ireland, India, and the Deluge





Neither a polemic nor a highly specialized study, this book is a comprehensive assessment of Burke's political thought. Using evidence from such neglected sources as Burke's essays on history and law and making full use of his extensive correspondence, the author places Burke in the context of developments in a number of areas of eighteenth-century British intellectual life, ranging from philosophy to literature, and presents him as a key figure in the evolution of the theory and practice of representative government.

James Conniff is Professor of Political Science at San Diego State University.


"The most noteworthy feature is the rich documentation both from the whole gamut of Burke's writings and speeches and from a wide variety of relevant secondary sources, in the areas both of political theory and eighteenth-century history." — Frederick G. Whelan, University of Pittsburgh

"Conniff excels at contextualizing not only Burke, but also his own interpretation of Burke. He places Burke skillfully and knowledgeably within both the political and intellectual debates of Burke's day. On the other hand, he carves out a secure niche for himself within the framework of contemporary interpretative controversies, supporting his position with a comprehensive, sensitive reading of Burke. Furthermore, he graciously but effectively undermines prevailing orthodoxies in the Burke Industry—most notably, the natural-law school of interpretation. This is an impressive display of conscientious scholarship, rigorous argument, and intellectual independence." — Steven Dworetz, Wheaton College