A Conservatism of Thought and Imagination

Ten Conservative Principles (1993)

  1. First, the conservative believes that there exists an enduring moral order.
  2. Second, the conservative adheres to custom, convention, and continuity.
  3. Third, conservatives believe in what may be called the principle of prescription.
  4. Fourth, conservatives are guided by their principle of prudence.
  5. Fifth, conservatives pay attention to the principle of variety.
  6. Sixth, conservatives are chastened by their principle of imperfectability.
  7. Seventh, conservatives are persuaded that freedom and property are closely linked.
  8. Eighth, conservatives uphold voluntary community, quite as they oppose involuntary collectivism.
  9. Ninth, the conservative perceives the need for prudent restraints upon power and upon human passions.
  10. Tenth, the thinking conservative understands that permanence and change must be recognized and reconciled in a vigorous society.

Evolution of Kirk's Thought on Conservative Principles

In 1953, with the publication of The Conservative Mind, Russell Kirk set out six “canons” that he considered a reasonable summary or outline of the significant themes common among conservative thinkers. In his 1982 introduction to the Portable Conservative Reader, Kirk offered a variation on those canons, and in a chapter in the 1993 Politics of Prudence, his last book, he expanded the canons to ten principles.

Highlighted Resources

The moral imagination is the principal possession that man does not share with the beasts. It is man’s power to perceive ethical truth, abiding law, in the seeming chaos of many events. Without the moral imagination, man would live merely day to day, or rather moment to moment, as dogs do. It is the strange faculty—inexplicable if men are assumed to have an animal nature only—of discerning greatness, justice, and order, beyond the bars of appetite and self-interest.

Russell Kirk, Enemies of the Permanent Things, 1969

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Highlights

Birzer wins 2016 Paolucci Award

We congratulate Bradley J. Birzer, the 2016 recipient of the Henry and Anne Paolucci Book Award for his biography, Russell Kirk: American Conservative. This annual award from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute honors the best book that advances conservative principles. ISI is hosting the Paolucci Award dinner during the Philadelphia Society national meeting, Saturday, October 1, 2016 at the Hilton Philadelphia at Penn’s Landing. Dr. Birzer will be speaking at the event. See this link for details on the award and dinner.

Sep 2016

Spring 2016 Newsletter

The Spring 2016 issue of the Kirk Center’s newsletter, Permanent Things, is now available for download. This issue features reports of participation in a liberal–conservative summit held by the Kirk Center and the Hauenstein Center, recent seminars, and a profile of a new archivist helping to digitize the Kirk archives.

Jul 2016

Upcoming APL Conference

The annual conference of the Academy of Philosophy and Letters will be held in Baltimore, MD on May 27–29. The theme for 2016 is “The Benedict Option: The Problems of Culture in Times of Crisis,” and there will also be a panel on “The Mecosta Option.” Bruce Frohnen and Ian Crowe are among the featured panelists. See the APL website at philosophyandletters.org for more information and to register.

May 2016