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The Enlightenment


The Enlightenment The Age of Reason The Enlightenment Achieving Heaven on Earth Thomas Hobbes John Locke John Locke Montesquieu Voltaire Jean Jacques Rousseau ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Date added: 20 December 2019
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Title: The Enlightenment

The Enlightenment
  • The Age of Reason

The Enlightenment
The Enlightenment, or Age of Reason, grew out of
the Scientific Revolution of the 1500s and
1600s If scientists could understand the
physical world using reason, then reason could
also be used to discover natural laws, which
govern human nature. Prior to the Enlightenment
and Scientific Revolution, how did Europeans
answer questions about the world they lived in?
The Church and Government
Achieving Heaven on Earth
Enlightened thinkers believed they could solve
all the social, political and economic problems
using reason. They were known as philosophes.
Enlightened thinkers ideas were shaped by the
times they lived in, characterized by political
and religious upheaval. During the
Enlightenment there were many philosophers who
wrote on the relationship between the government
and the masses.
Thomas Hobbes
According to Hobbes people are naturally cruel,
greedy, and selfish. If not strictly controlled
people will fight, steal and oppress others.
The role of government is to strictly enforce
laws to prevent the natural human state from
taking over. Hobbes said that people gave up
their natural state in return for an organized
state headed by a powerful government. This
arrangement was called the Social Contract.
Hobbes supported rule by Absolute
Monarchs Hobbes wrote his ideas in the book
entitled The Leviathan.
John Locke
People are basically moral and reasonable. They
want to do the right thing. Additionally, Humans
are born with Natural Rights Life
Liberty Property
Government exists at the consent of the governed
to protect their rights. If the government fails
to protect these rights, the contract is broken
and the people may change or replace the
He wrote Two Treatises of Government stressing
the best governments had limited power. John
Lockes ideas would help inspire the nations
looking to revolt.
John Locke
Freedom of men under government is to have a
standing rule to live by, common to every one of
that society, and made by the legislative power
vested in it a liberty to follow my own will in
all things, when the rule prescribes not, and not
to be subject to the inconstant, unknown,
arbitrary will of another man.
-John Locke, Two Treatises of Government
What does John Locke mean by this quote?
Laws should be consistent, not subject to change
based on the desires of the king or others.
A Political writer, Montesquieu criticized
absolute monarchies. He admired Britain's limited
monarchy and said it protected peoples rights.
Montesquieu believed having 3 branches in
government would prevent tyranny -Executive (the
boss) -Legislative (makes the laws) -Judicial
(judges and courts)
These 3 branches could check each other and
split power.
Voltaire used witty writing to expose the abuses
of his day. He exposed corrupt politicians and
religious leaders. He wrote against the slave
trade and religious prejudice. His writings
angered government and church officials. He was
imprisoned and forced into exile. To stop his
ideas from spreading his books and writings were
outlawed and burned.
I do not agree with a word that you say, but I
will defend to the death your right to say
it -Voltaire
Jean Jacques Rousseau
Believes people are basically good, but the evils
of society corrupts their natural innocence. The
social evils include problems such as the unequal
distribution of property. Rousseau stressed the
importance of the common good which is decided by
the general public.
Man is born free, and yet every where he is in
chains -Rousseau. The Social Contract
He wrote The Social Contract where he says the
government is in place because people allow it to
make decisions for the common good.
Enlightenment for Women
The Natural Rights envisioned by the enlightened
thinkers did not extend to women. Instead,
womens natural rights were limited to the areas
of home and family. Some women exposed to
enlightened philosophy through the Salons or
meeting places. Prominent and wealthy women would
host informal parties where enlightened thinkers
could gather and discuss.
New Economic Systems
Along with trying to solve the political problems
of the day, many enlightened thinkers attempted
to solve the economic problems. These thinkers
were called physiocrats. These thinkers reject
Mercantilism and promote Laissez Faire economic
practices. In a laissez faire economy the
government does not interfere with the operations
of business.
Adam Smith
In his book The Wealth of Nations, Smith argued
for the free market without government
interference. He believed supply and demand
should run the market. His ideas are still
influential in economic discussions today.
The public accepted without question a society
based on divine rule, a strict class system, and
heavenly rewards for earthly suffering
Enlightened thinkers challenge governments to
protect the peoples rights and interests,
believe social class should be flexible and
desire material wealth and happiness on earth.
Enlightened Ideas Spread
Theories from enlightened thinkers spread rapidly
through the distribution of pamphlets and books.
These thinkers were primarily concerned -the
relationship between people and their
government -exposing the abuses of church and
political leaders -using reason and natural law
to answer lifes questions.
Many philosophers met during Salons, parties
hosted by wealthy members of society. Attendance
included the best thinkers and artists of the
Enlightenment period. The Salons were usually
hosted by women, thus the philosophers were
forced to speak in an easy vernacular to ensure
The government and church felt they had a duty to
prevent the spread of enlightened thought and
preserve the Old Order. They began a war of
censorship. They burned books and imprisoned
popular enlightenment thinkers. Some figures,
such as Voltaire, were forced into exile.
Despite attempts to censor enlightened thought,
ideas of reason and questioning the old order
continued to spread.
Enlightened Despots
Some rulers embraced the ideas of the
enlightenment to expand their rule. Fredrick
the great adopted the idea of Common Good to
tighten his control over his kingdom and
subjects Queen Catherine the Great made several
reforms to the laws in Russia. She also spoke
against serfdom, but ultimately she continued to
expand her own power.
The Arts
The music of this time period follows was
structured and organized, suitable for the age of
reason. Some of the most famous artists and
musicians from the time period include Rembrandt
van Rijn Johann Sebastian Bach Wolfgang
Amadeus Mozart
Review Questions
Which statement represents a key idea
directly associated with John Lockes Two
Treatises of Government? (1) Freedom of speech
should be denied. (2) The kings power on Earth
comes from God. (3) All people are born with the
right to life, liberty, and property. (4)
Individuals acting in their own
self-interest will achieve economic success.
Review Questions
  • Writers of the Enlightenment were primarily
    interested in
  • Changing the relationship between people and
    their government
  • Supporting the Divine Right Theory
  • Debating the role of church in society
  • Promoting increased power for European monarchs

Review Questions
  • Which statement best describes a change that
    occurred during both the Renaissance and the
  • Feudalism became the dominant political system
  • The use of reason and logic were discouraged
  • Technology and science were considered
  • A new questioning spirit and attitude

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