Enlightenment Overview A summary of majorEnlightenment ideas and thinkers
How is the Enlightenment a changefrom previous thought?The Enlightenment brought about many ideas that were differentfrom previous beliefs/philosophies. Prior to the Enlightenment itwas generally believed that women were inferior to men, childrenwere small adults, and that common person should be loyal to theleader regardless of how they were treated.Leaders were mostly absolute monarchs who believed they ruled bydivine rights and therefore felt they could rule in whatever waythey desired.Education was something for wealthy men only, and the churchplayed a huge role in almost every aspect of peoples lives.
Thomas Hobbes on People• Hobbes had a very negative view of people and humanity.• He believed all people were born/evil and needed to be controlled by a strong leader.• Hobbes believed if people were left to their own devices they would live like savages.
Thomas Hobbes on Government • Since Hobbes believed people are basically savages he believed they should have little to no say in government. • Hobbes felt the best hope for ruling a country would be to have one strong leader who would have complete control over the people.
John Locke on People• Locke was the opposite of Hobbes, he believed that people were born good/pure. • Locke believed that since people were generally good that they should be allowed more rights and freedoms.• Locke believed people were entitled to natural rights which he defined as life, liberty, and property.
John Locke on Government• Locke believed that people should have a say in government.• He also believed that the role of the leader is to protect the peoples natural rights.• Locke also believed in a form of the social contract - he believed if the leader was not protecting the peoples natural rights than the people had the right to overthrow the leader.
Jean - Jacques Rosseau on People• Rousseau believed that people werent born good or bad, but that they were born blank slates and that their life experiences would determine the kind of person they would become. (This is known as tabula rasa).• Rousseau also believed that every male deserved an education regardless of their social class. • He also valued children/childhood and felt that children should be treated differently than adults. He believed that the primary role of a woman was to be a mother, and that a woman should only receive enough education to raise a decent son.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau onGovernment Rousseau also believed in the socialcontract which he said was anagreement between the people andthe government. Rousseau believedwithout the consent of the peoplethe government could not exist, andit was the governments job to servethe people. If the government wasnot doing its job then the peoplehad the right to overthrow thegovernment.
Denis Diderot • Diderot had similar beliefs to Rousseau in that he felt people were mostly shaped by experience. • Diderot advocated a separation of church and state. • Diderot spent most of his life putting together the Encyclopedie an encyclopedia of ideas from various Enlightenment thinkers.
Voltaire• Voltaire believed in separation of church and state too.• Voltaire also believed people should have freedom of speech and freedom of religion/leaders should have religious tolerance.• He frequently used satire in his works and mocked monarchies and religion.
Baron Montesquieu • Montesquieu believed in separation of powers meaning that government should be separated into three branches so no one part of government became too powerful. • Montesquieu believed monarchies were not good governments because there was no checks and balances.
Adam Smith• Adam Smith believed in laissez-faire economics, meaning that governments should let businesses regulate themselves (this is the foundation of capitalism).• Smith believed governments shouldnt interfere in the functioning of the economy.
Key Points• Many new ideas about government/society/life emerged during the Enlightenment.• These ideas represented a break from past thoughts on these subjects and were inspirational to many people and leaders.• Enlightenment ideas were spread through books, pamphlets, and salons gatherings typically held by wealthy French women in which Enlightenment thinkers would share ideas.• Although these ideas were exciting to many people society and government did not rapidly undergo change.
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