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N.1/2022 Libertinismo: Filosofia e Scrittura

Il Bolingbroke apocrifo e l’esordio di Burke: strategie di dissimulazione e temi libertini

Giacomo Maria Arrigo

Published in June, 2022

Bolingbroke’s Apocryphal Book and Burke’s Debut: Dissimulation Strategies and Libertine Themes.

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Abstract

When A Vindication of Natural Society was published anonymously in
1756, many people believed it to be a work by the late Lord Bolingbroke; two
years before, in fact, his posthumous Philosophical Works were published, which
revealed a libertine, sceptic and agnostic side of his controversial personality. In
reality, the author of A Vindication was a young Edmund Burke, who satirized

Bolingbroke’s style to refute his deistic and rationalistic philosophical underpinnings. The article aims at showing not only the historical account or the content of

the book, but also to reveal that Burke and Bolingbroke were both conservative

political thinkers (though belonging to the Whig and to the Tory party respectively), still sharing different philosophical perspectives. In this sense, Bolingbroke’s

libertinage érudit, coupled with his debouched life, is at odds with what he defended in the political field – which discredits him as a reliable politician that sincerely

embraces the country, or patriot ideology. On the other side there is Edmund

Burke, who in A Vindication identifies the flaws in Bolingbroke’s thought, reasserting the need of a philosophy without libertine and sceptics influences; and over

time, he eventually became the representative of a hierarchical social order and of
feudal, or landed interests, against the so-called «moneyed interests» produced by
the rapid social and economic changes, in this way taking the place of Bolingbroke
as the head of a conservative renovation of the country.

Keywords

Lord Bolingbroke, Edmund Burke, libertinage érudit, Natural Soci-
ety, Libertinism.

DOI

10.53129/gcsi_01-2022-08

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