1. There weren’t no “British Enlightenment.” There was a Scottish Enlightenment, led by Hume and Adam Smith.
2. Descartes misses being an Enlightenment thinker by a century and change. The French Enlightenment thinkers admired Descartes, but his rationalism had nothing to do with politics.
3. Burke wasn’t an Enlightenment thinker at all, except chronologically. The ideas
Douthat Brooks attributes to Burke – a kind of cautious moving-forward, paying due respect both to the need for adaptation and to the limits of pure reason in figuring out the consequences of social change – are really those of Oakeshott. Burke was an advocate of mystification.
Yes, I know
Douthat Brooks had to go to Harvard the University of Chicago rather than to someplace first-rate such as UCLA. But really, there’s no excuse.