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The Enlightenment


Title: Enlightenment Subject: Enlightenment Author: Dr. Sanderson Last modified by: jjaggers Created Date: 1/20/1997 10:59:10 AM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Enlightenment

  • The Enlightenment

The Age of Reason
  • 18th century intellectual movement based on
    reason caused by the scientific revolution
  • Questioned the physical universe
  • Centered in Paris -the modern Athens
  • Believed in natural laws - very secular
  • Criticized a) Absolutism b) Established Church
  • Very important to American Revolution

Enlightened Thought
  • 1) Natural science should be used to understand
    all aspects of life a) Nothing was to be accepted
    on faith b) Caused conflict with the church
  • 2) Scientific laws were capable of discovering
    human and natural laws
  • 3) Humans could create better societies and people

  • Philosophe (Fr. Philosopher) but not only a
    French movement
  • Critics of absolutism did not face death for
    their beliefs like in other countries
  • Had to influence the elites
  • French was the lingua franca -international
    language of educated

  • All believed in the supremacy of human reason
  • Developed new ideas about God, human nature, good
    and evil, and cause and effect relationships
  • Humans were basically good, but corrupted by
    society - people needed guidance
  • Ideas were established by Marquis de Condercet in
    Progress of the Human Mind. Human history had 9
    eras, but the 10th would be perfect
  • Salon - people of all classes met Madame
    Geoffrin and du Deffand

  • Bernard de Fontenelle popularized science and
    made it easy to understand Conversations on the
    Plurality of Worlds
  • Fontenelle brought science and religion into
    conflict (Catholics and Protestants scientists
    believed their work exhalted God)

John Locke
  • English thinker, rejected Descartes
  • Defended the Glorious Revolution
  • Essay Concerning Human Understanding - Tabula
    Rasa theory all ideas were from experience

  • Humans do not want to submit to authority
  • Second Treatise of Government Govt. social
    contract theory
  • Life, liberty, property
  • People are the power
  • Supported a constitutional monarchy
  • Jefferson

Baron de Montesquieu
  • French attorney
  • Different political theories for different times
  • Established separation of powers

  • Wrote The Persian Letters which criticized
    European customs
  • Wrote The Spirit of the Laws (1748) showed that
    governments were shaped by history.
  • A strong upper class was necessary to prevent
    abuses despotism could be avoided if power was
    shared but he was not a democrat
  • Admired the English system
  • Greatly influenced Franklin

  • French, François Marie Arouet.
  • Imprisoned in the Bastille for being critical of
    the king
  • Moved to England
  • Madame du Châtelet who believed women were
    unequal because of their lack of education

  • Had an affair with his niece
  • Candide
  • Enlightened Despotism - best government was a
    good monarch
  • He continually challenged the Church
  • Deism - God was a clockmaker who built the
    universe and then let it work. rejected
    fundamental doctrines of Christianity
  • Most philosophes hated religious intolerance
  • Died a millionaire because of shrewd business
  • He was a reformer not a revolutionary

The Encyclopedia
  • Edited by dAlembert and Diderot to teach people
    to think critically
  • Collection of enlightened knowledge
  • Initially banned by the government
  • Not every article was original but the overall
    effect was revolutionary

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • Swiss, brilliant but neurotic
  • People are good
  • Natural education Emile
  • Social Contract (1762) based on two concepts the
    general will and popular sovereignty
  • All men are born free . . .
  • Sovereignty resides in the people

Law and Order
  • Critics of the old legal system
  • Denounced torture and capital punishment
  • Rehabilitation of criminal

Economic Thought
  • Critical of mercantilism
  • Govt. has three duties a) defense against
    invasion b) maintain civil order c) sponsor
    public works
  • Did not call for harsher laws and more police to
    protect economic interests
  • Believed in the invisible hand of free

François Quesnay
  • In France the Physiocrats advocated laissez-faire
  • Quesnay, advisor to Louis XV denounced
    mercantilism and stressed the importance of gold
    and silver
  • Insisted that land was the only source of wealth
  • Should be one tax on wealth derived from the land

Adam Smith
  • Scottish
  • Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth
    of Nations (1776)
  • Production comes from the workers
  • Laissez-faire economics

  • According to Peter Gay there were 3 periods of
    the Enlightenment roughly a) dominated by
    Montesquieu and Voltaire before 1750 - set the
    tone of the movement b) Franklin, Hume,
    Rousseau mid-century fused anticlericalism and
    scientific speculation into a modern world
    view c) Holbach and Beccaria politics, social
    reform, legal reform, metaphysics
  • Criticism progressed by criticizing itself

  • Enlightenment centered on about twenty big names
    - but many more followers
  • Roughly 1689 (Montesquieu born) to 1789 (Holbach
  • First half were deists who focused on natural
    law second half were atheist focused on utility
  • Timid political ideas were forced aside by more
    radical ideas
  • Although mostly Parisian the thinkers were
    characterized by anglomania