Enlightenment Society and Politics


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  • The empiricists believed that knowledge is acquired through experience alone, but the rationalists maintained that such knowledge is open to Cartesian doubt and that reason alone provides us with knowledge.
    Using reason without applying it to experience will only lead to illusions, while experience will be purely subjective without first being included under pure reason
  • Last words…surrounded by priests an others, he was asked to renounce the devil, to which Voltaire replied “Now is not the time to be making new enemies.” His last words were, “For God’s sake, let me die in peace!”
  • Enlightenment Society and Politics

    1. 1. The Enlightenment Politics & Philosophy
    2. 2. Bell Ringer In your notebooks, answer: • What was the Enlightenment? • How did the SR impact the Enlightenment?
    3. 3. Political Enlightenment
    4. 4. Three Themes in the Political Realm 1. Property o Central feature o Gives an individual a stake in society 1. Rights o Every individual is entitled to basic rights simply because they exist 1. Law o That which makes 1 & 2 work o Guarantees property & rights
    5. 5. Political Philosophes
    6. 6. John Locke 1632-1704 Most influential writing was “Two Treatises of Civil Government” written in 1690
    7. 7. Locke’s Philosophy • The individual must become a “rational creature” • Virtue can be learned & practiced • Human beings possess free will o They should be prepared for freedom o Obedience should be out of conviction, not fear
    8. 8. Locke’s Philosophy (cont.) • Legislators owe their power to a contract with the people • Neither kings nor wealth are divinely ordained • There are certain natural rights that are endowed by God to all human beings o Life, liberty, & property • Favored a republic
    9. 9. Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755) Most influential writing was “Spirit of the Laws” written in 1748 “Countries are well-cultivated, not as they are fertile, but as they are free.”
    10. 10. Montesquieu’s Philosophy • Used England’s government as a model for: • The separation of powers • Executive Power = King • Legislative Power = Parliament • Judicial Power = Courts • Checks & balances • Monarchs should be subject to constitutional limits on their power
    11. 11. Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712-1778 Most influential writing was “The Social Contract” written in 1762
    12. 12. Rousseau’s Philosophy • Tabula Rasa (blank slate) • Best traits of human character are products of nature • Society corrupts people, therefore, we must fix society
    13. 13. Rousseau (cont.) • In The Social Contract: o The right kind of political order could make people truly moral & free o Individual moral freedom could be achieved only by learning to subject one’s individual interests to the “General Will”
    14. 14. Rousseau - Social Contract (cont.) o Individuals could do this by entering into a social contract - not with their rulers, but with each other o This social contract was derived from human nature -NOT from history, tradition, or the Bible o People = most free & moral under a republican form of government with a direct democracy
    15. 15. Philosophical Enlightenment
    16. 16. Marquis de Condorcet 1743-1794 Most influential writing: Progress of the Human Mind (1794)
    17. 17. Condorcet’s Philosophy • Expectation of universal happiness • Every individual guided by reason could enjoy true independence • Advocated: o Free & equal education o Constitutionalism o Equal rights for women
    18. 18. Immanuel Kant 1724-1804 Most influential work: Critique of Pure Reason (1781)
    19. 19. Kant’s Philosophy • Investigated the structure & limitations of reason • Believed he created a compromise between the empiricists and the rationalists (experience + reason = Enlightenment)
    20. 20. Denis Diderot 1713-1784 Most influential writing: The Encyclopedia (1751) (coauthor: Jean le Rond d’Alembert)
    21. 21. Diderot’s Encyclopédie • Complete cycle of knowledge that changed the general way of thinking • 28 volumes • Alphabetical, cross- referenced, illustrated
    22. 22. Voltaire 1694-1778 • François Marie Arouet • Most famous book: Candide (1759) • Known for sharp wit that was often critical of the church and state
    23. 23. Voltaire (cont.) • Wrote plays, novels, poetry, essays, & letters • Fierce defender of civil liberties, especially: o Religious freedom o Free trade o Freedom of speech • Spent time imprisoned in the Bastille
    24. 24. Voltaire (cont.) • Life (video) • Last words
    25. 25. Homework • Worksheet: Voltaire • Due next class period