How Did The Enlightenment Philosophies Influence Modern Political Thought


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How Did The Enlightenment Philosophies Influence Modern Political Thought by Martin CJ Mongiello

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How Did The Enlightenment Philosophies Influence Modern Political Thought

  1. 1. How did the Enlightenment philosophies influence modern political thought? By Martin CJ Mongiello The enlightenment shocked and surprised European culture and is sometimes called the Age of Enlightenment. This primarily occurred in the western part of Europe, spanned scientific, cultural, and intellectual aspects, and could often even be seen in artwork. The age of enlightenment greatly influenced the revolution in Haiti, America, France, and the Polish- Lithuanian efforts. However, I have found little consensus on the exact period of the age - and much arguing between scholars. Major tenants of society were challenged such as freedom from oppression, natural rights endowed by God, values in society for the better good of all, human reason, freedom in general and other freedoms, democracy versus aristocracy, oligarchy and tyranny, and new government structure. Most royalty supposedly responded with, “How dare them? Have them slain.” It is amazing how much, “reason,” was considered to be a valid point by people like John Locke, John Adams, David Hume and Thomas Jefferson – to name a few. Freedom, democracy, and reason are the primary cornerstones of society in modern political thought. The only item that concerned the new endorsers of democracy is that sometimes it was called, the rule of mob majority. For this reason, many in the Colonies who followed the age of enlightenment strongly considered forming a republic. The enlightenment philosophies influenced modern political thought, as they were felt to make it possible to create a free market operation, under capitalism - which would spur invention. This can readily be seen in modern political thought today, in the number one outreach program of enlightenment philosophies – the United States of America. Political thought prior to the enlightenment was strongly influenced by radical, controlling religions and Bishops. Thusly the reformation exploded in Europe. They knew this in London, as they sat in the House of Lords, and continue to do so today via the Church of England. Previously, they had much more power. After the American Revolution, they lost great influence. Today the Church of England continues to retain the right to draft legislature and have it passed into law by Parliament. After all, they are given free seats in the Congress! In America, this form of religious involvement in the House of Representatives or the Senate would be considered sickening, in modern political thought. This is one of the greatest outcomes of the Age of Enlightenment - the separation of church and state, and how important it must become. One of the other greatest outcomes was the downfall of monarchy’s and royalty, including modern political thought regarding the process of electing leaders. Previous, to the Age of Enlightenment, the process of leadership was entirely dependent on the fetus. Only through birth could eventual, or possible, change ever occur. Another disgusting and sickening process.
  2. 2. "Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens, from whom the children of Israel copied the custom. It was the most prosperous invention the Devil ever set on foot for the promotion of idolatry." “ But where, say some, is the King of America? I'll tell you, friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Great Britain.... so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America the law is king" (Thomas Paine in his booklet - "Common Sense"). Political thought prior to, also included the generalized belief system of the aristocracy, that the attainment of riches, should be limited within their ranks only. Emperor Qin, of China, often expressed his disbelief of any educated class - at all. “The army controls, the peasants work, that is all on earth” (his form of another style of government called legalism). Patrick Henry, able to worship in peace in a new world addressed some new ideas about riches, in a new political world, when he said, “This is all the inheritance I can give my dear family. The religion of Christ can give them one which will make them rich indeed” (The Last Will and Testament of Patrick Henry). With enlightenment came the blending of religion in government under new philosophies. Religion had not been blended with anything in such a remarkable way since the Kama Sutra blended religion and sex together in India under Hinduism. He also spoke of, “They tell us Sir, that we are weak -- unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature has placed in our power." These are the enlightenment words speaking to how you would soon view modern political thought – firsthand. They remain on the tongues of Iraqis and Afghanis today, in 2010. You can exchange the word, “British”, for Al Qaida. Barry, N. P. An Introduction to Modern Political Theory. Palgrave MacMillan, 2000. Print. Burnet, G. The History of the Reformation of the Church of England. Bohn, 1857. Print. Chrimes, S. B. "English Constitutional History." (2008)Print. Enayat, H., and R. P. Mottahedeh. Modern Islamic Political Thought. IB Tauris, 2005. Print. Gray, J. Enlightenment's Wake: Politics and Culture at the Close of the Modern Age. Routledge, 2007. Print. Hudelson, R. Modern Political Philosophy. ME Sharpe Inc, 1999. Print.
  3. 3. Hume, D., and S. L. A. Selby-Bigge. Enquiries Concerning the Human Understanding: And Concerning the Principles of Morals. Clarendon press, 1902. Print. Jefferson, T., J. O. Appleby, and T. Ball. Political Writings. Cambridge Univ Pr, 1999. Print. Jefferson, T. The Writings of Thomas Jefferson. GP Putnam and sons, 1898. Print. Kitromilides, P. "Enlightenment, Nationalism, Orthodoxy: Studies in the Culture and Political Thought of South-Eastern Europe." Journal of Modern Greek Studies 14 (1996): 369-72. Print. Kymlicka, W. Contemporary Political Philosophy. Oxford University Press, 2001. Print. Locke, J. The Correspondence of John Locke. Oxford University Press, USA, 1979. Print. ---. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Troutman & Hayes, 1847. Print. MacDonald, S. "Boadicea: Warrior, Mother and Myth." Images of women in peace and war: cross-cultural and historical perspectives (1988): 40. Print. Owen, T. M. A History of England and Wales from the Roman to the Norman Conquest: With Notes and Tables from Original Authorities. G. Philip & Son, 1882. Print. Pagden, A. The Languages of Political Theory in Early-Modern Europe. Cambridge Univ Pr, 1990. Print. Paine, T., and E. Larkin. Common Sense. Broadview Pr, 2004. Print. Paine, T. "Common Sense (1776)." The Thomas Paine Reader: 81–82. Print. ---. Rights of Man, Common Sense, and Other Political Writings. Oxford University Press, USA, 1998. Print. Skinner, Q. The Foundations of Modern Political Thought: The Age of Reformation. Cambridge University Press, 1992. Print. Spurr, J. "The Church of England, Comprehension and the Toleration Act of 1689." English Historical Review 104.413 (1989): 927-46. Print. Weiss, Timothy, His teachings on the set of God, Guns and American Freedom television series, an Anglican Church Reverend, 2009, Kings Mountain Historical Museum commons with the American Revolutionary War Living History Center, Kings Mountain, North Carolina.