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

A culture is perennially in need of renewal. A culture does not survive and prosper merely by being taken for granted; active defense is always required, and imaginative growth, too.

Russell Kirk

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Highlights

Roots in Russian

Newsletter coverThe Spring 2018 Permanent Things Newsletter is now available. News items include an announcement of Russell Kirk’s The Roots of American Order recently published in Russian for the first time. Translator Dr. Marina Kizima, a professor at Moscow State Institute, was a Wilbur Fellow at the Kirk Center while researching and writing on American literature, culture, and intellectual traditions.

May 2018

In Memoriam: Sally Sluhan Wright (1947–2018)

Sally Wright, a long-time family friend of the Kirks and the Kirk Center, passed away on June 15, 2018. Her father Clyde Sluhan, founder of Master Chemical Company in Ohio, and his wife Marian were great friends of Russell Kirk. The Sluhans exchanged many visits with the Kirks and on one occasion brought Count Nikolai Tolstoy, the Russian-English writer and politician, to visit the Kirks.

Sally was a prolific writer of mystery novels and an Edgar Alan Poe Award Finalist. Sally’s Ben Reese series chronicles the investigations of a WWII Ranger turned academic archivist in six mysteries that unfold in Britain, the U.S., and Italy where he researches arcane artifacts while seeking some sort of justice for the victims of unsolved murders. In her Jo Grant mystery series, the story is driven by the conflicts and emotional connections in three family businesses in the horse industry in Kentucky in the early 1960s. The University Bookman reviewed both series in an essay called “The Moral Imagination in the Mystery Novels of Sally Wright” by Ashlee Cowles.

Reviewers have compared her work to that of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Josephine Tey, Margery Allingham, and Ngaio Marsh. Sally said that her literary influences ranged from all of those to Tolstoy and Jane Austen. “And yet it’s C. S. Lewis who’s probably influenced me most, through the whole body of his work, as a thinker, a person, and a writer,” she wrote. “In his Chronicles of Narnia and his metaphysical novels, The Great Divorce and The Screwtape Letters, he uses popular fiction to talk about what T. S. Eliot called ‘the permanent things’—consideration of morality, of origin, and spiritual meaning. It was those books that started me thinking about writing mysteries to begin with.”

Sally and her husband Joe were stalwart supporters of the Kirk Center. In honor of her memory, the Kirk Center is featuring the extensive personal interview that Sally conducted with Dr. Kirk.

Jun 2018

Undergraduate and Graduate Student Seminars This Spring

For a long weekend in March, Hillsdale College Honors Students gathered at the Kirk Center to explore the theme “Man as Maker in Moral Perspective.” Professor of Classics Eric Hutchinson guided the students on the complex topics of transhumanism and cloning, followed by readings from Ray Bradbury’s science fiction stories. Although the March winds deterred students from an afternoon walk, they rounded out the weekend with piano-playing and singing at the Kirk house.

Hillsdale Seminar March 2018

On April 26–29, the Kirk Center welcomes this year’s recipients of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s prestigious Richard M. Weaver Fellowships for a seminar about Plato’s writings on education, sponsored by The Liberty Fund of Indianapolis. Since 1964, the Weaver Fellowship Program has identified and supported graduate students committed to freedom-oriented teaching at the college level. This year, fifteen students from across the country were selected as Weaver Fellows. Dr. David Corey, professor of Political Science at Baylor University, and Dr. Richard Gamble, professor of history at Hillsdale College, will lead the discussions.

Apr 2018