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The Age of Reason


The Age of Reason Big Picture: Both the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment reflect the importance of the use of Reason as a means of determining mankind s ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Age of Reason

The Age of Reason
  • Big Picture
  • Both the Scientific Revolution and the
    Enlightenment reflect the importance of the use
    of Reason as a means of determining mankinds
    place in the Universe.
  • Specifically, we are speaking of man in
    relationship to his God, and to His Political and
    Social Structure.

The Age of Reason
  • The Enlightenment was an outgrowth of the
    Scientific Revolution.
  • Hence, we have the Philosophers taking a page
    from the laboratory, and man great experiment,
    Society, will be changed utterly.
  • Lets backtrack a moment

The Age of Reason
  • Remember
  • The Renaissance and Humanism? We know this was
    significant because Man began to focus on their
    lives, and their abilities, as opposed to
    subjugating themselves to the Church and waiting
    for the Afterlife.

The Age of Reason
  • Remember the Protestant Reformation?
  • People like Martin Luther and John Calvin
    questioned the status quo, and change raged
    throughout Europe?
  • Remember the Age of Exploration? Where man
    sailed over seas an began to set up new empires
    and tame the savages that lived in the wild?
  • What was mans place in the social structure?
  • Was mankind inherently good or evil?

The Age of Reason
  • All of these contribute to a climate of change,
    of Revolution, of the possibilities of the Human
  • But, we cant forget that for every step take in
    the English Revolution, of the English Bill of
    Rights and the Power of Parliament, there were
    still very oppressive monarchs, absolute
    monarchs, that clung to the beliefs of Divine
    Right and total subjugation of the People.(Louis

The Age of Reason
  • Sowe are talking about change. Revolution.
  • Lets look back at the Scientific Revolution
  • How can the ideas of Men Like Copernicus and
    Galileo affect the way that Political
    Philosophers think???

The Age of Reason
  • First of all, lets talk about the differences
    between the idea of faith vs. the idea of Reason.
  • We can see the Middle Ages as an Age of Faith.
    You did not question your existence, nor the role
    of the church.
  • It was an accepted/expected reality that you
    would live and die, and go to heaven or hell.
  • Everything in between was in the hands of God,
    and that was that.

The Age of Reason
  • We know that the Renaissance began to change
    mankind's view of himself and his place, and the
    Protestant Reformation made clear steps in this
    direction as well.
  • Remember to that as the thinkers of the
    renaissance looked back to Greece and Rome, we
    began to focus on the abilities of the individual
    as opposed to the Power of Pure faith.

The Age of Reason
  • Technology can change society as well. The
    telescope will enable individuals to examine the
    heavens (think of that word!) and make bold
    statement about the universe from a non religious
  • Changes in methods of learning, (an outgrowth of
    Humanism) math specifically, will also change
    theories about how the heavens move, and hence
    our place (earth) in the universe.

The Age of Reason
  • Movers and shakers
  • Nicholas Copernicus. KeyHe uses new
    mathematical formulas and challenges an age old
    theory, and that is that the Earth (geocentric),
    is the center of the Universe.
  • He purports that the Sun, (heliocentric) is the
    center of the Universe.
  • By doing so the Catholic Church is threatened,
    because God created earth, and hence it must be
    the center of everything.

The Age of Reason
  • Galileo Galilei Italian astronomer who used the
    relatively new technology of the telescope to
    further support the controversial findings of
  • You should also know that Galileo was brought to
    trial and condemned by the Inquisition (The
    Catholic Churches assault on non believers) for
    his findings.

The Age of Reason
  • Isaac Newton The Big Daddy of the Scientific
  • Newtons Principia Mathematica focused on his
    groundbreaking findings in reference to the
    existence of Gravity (what cause things to
    fall?), and his laws of motion.
  • Essentially, this means that there is a force or
    forces at work, generally referred to as Nature
    that affect our lives separately from Gods
    interventionThat is big stuff

The Age of Reason
  • The Scientific Method. Focuses on reason and
    mans intellectual ability to problem solve, and
    does not simply have us throw up our hands and
    apply it all to the power of God
  • The scientific method is used every time you
    enter a lab as FDA.
  • You problem solve by

The Age of Reason
  • State Problem
  • Collect Information
  • Form a hypothesis (possible solution)
  • Experiment
  • Record Data
  • State a conclusion
  • Repeat steps as necessary

The Age of Reason
  • Rene Descartes and the use of Reason.
  • Simply put Descartes felt, it was mans ability
    to reason to think that defined his very
  • His Discourse on method stated that cogito ergo
    sum meaning I think therefore I am.
  • Essentially, it is our intellectual abilities
    that defines our existence
  • Lets make the transition to the Enlightenment
    and review what we have learned

The Age of Reason
  • Reason, a faith in the ability of man not just
    in the power of a god will lead us to a group of
    thinkers who examine the role of mankind in
    society, and the role of government in
    relationship to its citizenry.
  • Are their Natural laws, separate from the laws of
    God, that can dictate the place of man in
  • Andwhat is the role of government in
    relationship the enforcement or support of these

The Age of Reason
  • Big Time Thinkers in the Enlightenment
  • Locke
  • Hobbes
  • Montesquieu
  • Rousseau
  • Voltaire
  • Each will view man, and his role in society
    somewhat differently

The Age of Reason
  • Thomas Hobbes Wrote the Leviathan.
  • His basic philosophy was that people were cruel,
    greedy,brutish and that is was societies job to
    civilize them.
  • Man in his state of nature would only look out
    for his own interestshence society was not
  • A powerful government was needed for a control

The Age of Reason
  • John Locke Most famous work was the Second
    Treatise on government.
  • Basic idea was that we had natural rights and
    that man was essentially good, but corrupted by
  • Governments should be formed to protect mans
    rights, rather than rights being given to the
    citizen by government.
  • The Radical ideas that was Lockes was that
    government had an obligation to the people, and
    the people had a right to overthrow government if
    they felt it was necessary

The Age of Reason
  • If we put Hobbes and Locke in the context of the
    English Civil War
  • Hobbes would side with the Monarchy.
  • Locke would side with the Parliament and

The Age of Reason
  • Baron de Montesquieu The next step in the
    governmental process, which is the separation of
  • Essentially, this means that to protect against
    tyranny and anarchy (the extremes of power in
    either case) power needed to be separatedin this
    way no one branch of the government would hold
    too much influence over the other.

The Age of Reason
  • Montesquieu proposed a three part governmental
    system of the
  • Legislative Look Familiar?
  • Executive
  • Judicial

The Age of Reason
  • Essentially, this is the formation of the checks
    and balances system that was the foundation of
    our governmental system.
  • Lets look at another interpretation of the
    concept of the contract between the government
    and its populace.
  • Jean Jacques Rousseau and the Social Contract

The Age of Reason
  • Rousseau saw man quite differently from someone
    like Hobbes. Rousseau felt that man was born
    good, and that he was corrupted by society.
  • He stated that man is born free, And everywhere
    he is in chains.
  • Hence, the relationship between government and
    the people is a complex one.

The Age of Reason
  • Rousseau believed that the chains that bound men
    are the were the controls of government.
  • However, man must also consent to give up pure
    self-interest in order to participate in a freely
    formed government.
  • Hence, it is a sort of contract between the
    government and the governed.

The Age of Reason
  • Lets review briefly.
  • Hobbes - Man is a brute. Government must
    control them.
  • Locke - Man is born good. Their Natural Rights
    must be protected by govt.
  • Montesquieu Government must be balanced.
    Separation of Powers
  • Rousseau There must be a social contract,and man
    must give up some rights as part of a community.

The Age of Reason
  • Voltaire (real name was Francois Marie Arouet de
  • Social Satire. a means where an author
    criticizes society through fiction.
  • Candide a satire of 18th Century Society.
  • He was imprisoned twice for his writing, and
    after his second sentence he was exiled to
    England, where he was influenced by great
    thinkers like Locke and Newton.

The Age of Reason
  • Voltaire was a life long critic of the Church and
    the monarchy.
  • He will also center his novel on a criticism of
    the Philosophy of Optimism, founded by the German
    Philosopher Leibnitz.
  • Here is a summary of Optimism.

The Age of Reason
  • Voltaire shared with Leibnitz the belief in the
    existence of a Supreme Being, who was the creator
    of the Universe, Heaven and Earth included.
  • Voltaire could not accept the idea that
    everything could be explained by the belief in
    Providence-that every thing happens for the best.
  • Although Voltaire was a believer in God, he saw
    him as a more absentee god and he explained him
    in the following manner

The Age of Reason
  • Voltaire believed that God was, in his
    relationship to man, like a ships captain is to
    mice that are scurrying in the hold of the ship.
    He is aware, but totally indifferent to their
    existence and their well being.
  • Two primary tenants of Leibnitz's Philosophy
    that Voltaire argued vehemently against are these

The Age of Reason
  • Leibnitz saw God as beneficent, and that he, in
    creating the world, created the "best possible
  • However, Leibnitz was not stating that the world
    was perfect and devoid of evil.
  • What he meant was that God's goodness and concern
    for his creation assures us that what is moral
    and right will finally emerge. (We have to wait
    for it, and be patient!)
  • What man must do is to see the Divine plan in
    it's entirety, not simply an examination of
    specific events. We must see the forest, not the

The Age of Reason
  • Secondarily, Leibnitz saw Nature as orderly. It
    laws were immutable. Any deviation from this plan
    upsets the "Great Chain of Being".
  • There is strict order, and that is that.
  • Voltaire attacked this philosophy on two fronts

The Age of Reason
  • The idea that all is well, that this is the "best
    of all possible worlds" becomes the running joke
    of the novel.
  •  Secondly, the idea that the Great Chain of Being
    to be strictly adhered to is nonsense.
  • Lets look at Candide briefly.

The Age of Reason
  • The main characters are Candide, and naïve young
    man, and Pangloss, the philosopher teacher who
    will assure Candide that whatever happens, this
    is indeed the best of all possible worlds.
  • The Satire of the novel will center around the
    many trials and hardships that Candide will
    endure, and how long he can hang on to the notion
    that everything is for the best.