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2. Burke's Reflections
About this Lecture
In this module, we explore the contemporary intellectual context of Wollstonecraft’s political ideas, focusing in particular on: (i) Wollstonecraft’s ‘Vindication of the Rights of Men’ (1790) as a direct response to Burke’s ‘Reflections on the Revolution in France’; (ii) Edmund Burke as a political and philosophical thinker of the time; (iii) perceptions of Burke as a ‘friend to liberty’ and (iv) the difference between Burke’s sympathy for the American Revolutionary cause and his hesitancy towards the French Revolution; (v) the figure of Richard Price and (vi) Burke’s objections to any comparison between the French Revolution and the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
This course explores the political ideas of Mary Wollstonecraft and may be particularly useful for those studying the Core Political Ideas component of the AQA and Edexcel Government and Politics A Level specifications. While she is best known as an early feminist, Dr Sylvana Tomaselli asks us here to instead consider Wollstonecraft in context as a key Enlightenment philosopher and moralist. We begin with an exploration of Wollstonecraft’s life and early works, before moving on in the second lecture to consider Burke’s ‘Reflections’ (1790) as key context for Wollstonecraft’s political ideas. We then turn in the third lecture to Wollstonecraft’s polemical ‘Vindication of the Rights of Men’ (1790), highlighting her critique of Burke – another named thinker under Core Political Ideas: Conservatism – and arguments concerning property. In the fourth lecture, we explore Wollstonecraft’s ‘Vindication of the Rights of Woman’ (1792), emphasising that, despite its title, this work is not only concerned with women. Instead, the second Vindication posits an ambitious political project: full moral revolution. Finally, in the fifth lecture, we make the case for reading Wollstonecraft on her own terms. Here, we engage directly with the problem of applying contemporary -isms to political thinkers.
Dr Sylvana Tomaselli is a Fellow at St John’s College, Cambridge and a specialist in the political thought of the Enlightenment. She writes and lectures on the history of women’s political thought, mind-body dualism, and the long eighteenth century. She teaches the three History of Political Theory Papers at Cambridge and is an Affiliated Lecturer in the Faculty of History and of Human, Social and Political Sciences. She is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and recently published ‘Wollstonecraft: Philosophy, Passion, and Politics’ (2021).
Cite this Lecture
Tomaselli, S. (2022, March 22). Political Philosophy – Mary Wollstonecraft - Burke's Reflections [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/political-philosophy-mary-wollstonecraft/burke-s-reflections
Tomaselli, Sylvana. "Political Philosophy – Mary Wollstonecraft – Burke's Reflections." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 22 Mar 2022, https://www.massolit.io/courses/political-philosophy-mary-wollstonecraft/burke-s-reflections