The Enlightenment

The Enlightenment Main Themes: The Enlightenment 1. The Enlightenment had its origins in the scientific and intellectual revolutions of the 17c. 2. Enlightenment thinkers felt that change and reason were both possible and desireable for the sake of human liberty. 3.

Enlightenment philosophes provided a major source of ideas that could be used to undermine existing social and political structures. I. The Major Themes of the Era: A. rationalism –* logical reasoning based on facts. B.

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cosmology –* new world view based on Newtonian physics –* analysis of natural phenomena as systems. C. secularism –* application of scientific theories to religion and society. D. scientific method –* experimentation; observation; hypothesis.

E. utilitarianism (Bentham) –* laws created for the common good and not for special interests. The greatest good for the greatest number. F. optimism & self-confidence –* anything is possible (a reversal of medieval thinking).

G. tolerance –* a greater acceptance of different societies and cultures. H. freedom –* a mind as well as a society free to think, free from prejudice. I.

mass education. J. legal / penal reforms –* Beccaria, Bentham. K. constitutionalism. L.

cosmopolitanism. II. The Philosophes: A. Not really philosophers, but men who sought to apply reason and common sense to nearly all the major institutions and mores of the day. B.

They attacked Christianity for its rejection of science, otherworldliness, and belief in man’s depravity (Deism). C. Their major sources: LOCKE –* man’s nature is changeable and can be improved by his environment. NEWTON –* empirical experience and the rationality of the natural world. BRITAIN –* exemplified a society in which enlightened reason served the common good.

D. France became the center for Enlightenment since its decadent absolutism and political and religious censorship seemed to prove the need for reform. E. Paris salons. F.

Diderot’s Encyclopedie. G. physiocrats: FRANCOIS QUESNAY –* land is the only source of wealth, and agriculture increases that wealth; therefore, the mercantilists were wrong to put so much importance on the accumulation of money. ADAM SMITH –* Wealth of Nations –* he challenged mercantilist doctrine as selfish and unnatural; the interdependence among nations; Father of Modern Capitalism. H.

Montesquieu –* The Spirit of the Laws — admired the British government. — separation of powers in the government. — checks and balances. I. Rousseau –* The Social Contract — Father of Romanticism.

— he differed from the other pholosophes, esp. Locke: — law is the expression of the General Will. — rejected science and reason; go with your feelings (inner conscience). — Man is born free, but is everywhere in chains! J. Voltaire — Candide — champion of individual rights.

— I do not agree with a word you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it! — leading advocate of Enlightened Despotism. III. Enlightened Despotism: A. Prussia: — Frederick I (1714-1740) — the Seargent King. — Frederick II (1740-1786) B. Habsburg Austria: — Maria Theresa (1740-1780) –* Pragmatic Sanctions.

— Joseph II (1765-1790) –* considered to be the only true enlightened despot. C. Russia: — Peter the Great (1682-1725) –* Westernization (Windows to the West). — Catherine the Great (1762-1796) –* rigorous foreign policy; partitions of Poland. IV. Results of Enlightenment Thought: A.

contributing factor in the American and French Revolutions. B. Enlightenment thinking reflected in the U. S. Declaration of Independence.

C. Enlightened Despots. D. European thought became centered on the belief in reason, science, individual rights, and the progress of civilization. E.

New evangelical religious movements –* Pietists, Methodists. ADDITIONAL TERMS TO KNOW: philosophesphysiocratsutilitarianismcosmopolitanis msalonlaissez-faireImmanuel KantJohn WesleyMethodismPietismGeneral WillPhilosopher-King 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 Enlightenment Philosophe (Fr. Philosopher) but not only a French movement Critics of absolutism did not face death for their beliefs like in other countries French was the lingua franca -international language of educated Critics of the Old Regime and absolutism Developed new ideas about God, human nature, good and evil, and cause and effect relationships Humans were basically good, but corrupted by society Ideas were established by Marquis de Condercet in Progress of the Human Mind Salon 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 Tabula Rasa theory all ideas were from experience Govt. social contract Life, liberty, property People are the power Constitutional monarchy and defended the Revolution 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 Voltaire French, Franois Marie Arouet. Imprisoned in the Bastille for being critical of the king Moved to England Madame du Chtelet 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 toleration Died a millionaire because of shrewd business investments He was a reformer not a revolutionary The Encyclopedia Edited by d’Alembert and Diderot.

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 based on two concepts: the general will and popular sovereignty All men are born free . . . 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 competition Francois Quesnay In France the Physiocrats advocated laissez-faire economics. 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 Conclusion 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 died) 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 European History.

The Enlightenment

The Age of Enlightenment was a period that took place after the Renaissance and is characterized by profound changes in mind and attitude of many Europeans. For centuries before, the Roman Catholic Church was a dominant force in society. People believed that by accepting the hardships there were in life, and devoting themselves to God, they could expect a better afterlife. However, at the start of the Renaissance, people began to question the ideas of Christianity. The church authority was gradually being undermined by people such as Copernicus and Galileo, who had new ideas about the universe and Rene Descartes, who said that everything should be doubted until it is proved. At the start of the seventeen hundreds, came the Age of Enlightenment. During this time, there existed a strong desire for knowledge, willingness to exchange new ideas, and a belief that rational thought and action could help solve problems. German Philosopher, Immanual Kent said The Enlightenment is mans emergence from his nonage, nonage meaning immaturity. Man had become mature enough to find his own way. The people became leaders, instead looking at antiquity, and following the ancient Greek traditions and ideas. There was a drive to understand nature and the natural world by methods of science. The enlightenment was a time was people began to question politics, religions and society. Ideas were attacked with new ideas that governed logic and reason. During the enlightenment there existed a religious revolution, a scientific revolution, a technological Revolution and a revolution in the attitudes and minds of man altogether. The ideas and discoveries that took place during the Enlightenment gave birth to our modern world.

The philosophers played a large role in bringing out the radical change during the Enlightenment. They defied traditional boarders and dared to use their own mind to discover new things, and challenge the old. The philosophers changed many aspects of society, regarding religious, political, social and scientific views. Man had finally become mature enough to find his own way, and to understand his own nature and the natural world. From Scotland to Naples, an impressive clan of amazing intellectuals had become passionate and outspoken. The philosophers had a deep and lasting effect on Europe and the rest of the world. Their ideas influenced those who followed. And the concepts and discoveries are still practiced today.

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For centuries, Christianity and the church played a significant role in European society. There were strict rules that went along with religion and the church that could not be defied by the people or they would be defying the greatest power; God. Martin Luther, was a prominent person in this revolution. He wrote the 95 Thesis, and, although it was banned, eventually gave freedom to religion. There was a total fundamental transformation due to Martin Luthers proposals. His ideas constituted things such as fighting for everyday English to be used rather than Latin, and he stated that God could be reached anywhere, at anytime, as opposed to only in the church. People could go to God out of choice. Humanism was one of the greatest legacies of the Enlightenment. Intellectuals began expressing the power of humans versus the power of God. They began to renounce the ideas of Christianity, and ridiculed the concept of miracles ever happening. They thought of God as the mechanic of the universe. He became only a watchmen, and instead of looking up to him, people began to take more responsibility in themselves. The idea that man controlled his own destiny by his own decisions and actions, rather than God whom decided a set fate for each individual. Instead of the old age faith in religion, new ideas and attitudes changed peoples faith in the church and God, and they began to have more faith in themselves.

In addition to a religious revolution that took place during the Enlightenment, there was also a scientific revolution. This revolution was significant in that it took away the old ideas of supernatural power and fate and replaced them with revolutionary discoveries that gave a start to the modern knowledge we have today. Many assumptions about the universe and the human body were changed when innovative discoveries by people such as Johanis Kepler and Issac


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