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The Enlightenment Thinkers - By Lucas Schroeder
Transcript of The Enlightenment Thinkers - By Lucas Schroeder
By Lucas Schroeder
The Enlightenment Philosophers
Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean Jacques Rousseau were three philosophers in Europe that studied or philosophized about government and the nature of mankind. These three philosophers lived in a time in Europe called the enlightenment.
John Locke was born in England in 1632. He studied at Oxford University. Later in his life, John Locke wrote that man had the ability to reason and the natural ability to govern themselves and could look after the well being of society.
Jean Jacques Rousseau was born in Switzerland in 1712. He moved to Paris in 1742. His most famous piece of writing is called "The Social Contract." It describes the relationship between man and society. Rousseau, in his early years, claimed that men were more evil than good, but later on, he changed his thinking and said that people are noble and good.
Jean Jacques Rousseau
Thomas Hobbes was born in London in 1588. He traveled to other countries to study government. In 1651, he wrote the book called
. In his book, he stated that people are naturally wicked and evil and that people do anything to gain power for themselves or to put themselves in a higher position.
John Locke Biography
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Jean Jacques Rousseau Biography
Hobbes believed that the nature of mankind is wicked and evil and humans are selfish creatures that will do anything to better their position. He claimed that "mankind is in a perpetual and restless desire for power."
Thomas Hobbes' Philosophy
Locke believed that the nature of mankind is good and people had the natural ability to govern themselves and look after the well being of society. He had to flee England to Holland because his thoughts were seen as a threat to the king.
Thomas Locke's Philosophy
Rousseau's philosophy is that mankind is more noble and good than evil.
Jean Jacques Rousseau's Philosophy
Locke believed the purpose of government is to protect its people's rights to life, freedom, and property. He believed these natural rights were given by God. He also stated that if a government violates individual rights, people may rebel. The gift of reason that people are born with allows mankind to govern themselves. Since they can govern themselves, they create a government to help protect their natural rights . Thus, according to Locke, democracy is the best form of government because in democracy, the people choose their leaders who will best protect these natural rights.
That is how the gift of reason and the right to life liberty and property are central to Locke's idea about the purpose of government.
Locke's Idea about the Purpose of Government
The Enlightenment was the period in history of western thought and culture which occurred in the mid 17th century to the 18th century, and had dramatic changes in science, philosophy, society and politics. These revolutions swept away the medieval world-view of religion and helped create a new society and laid the foundation for a more modern worldview based more on reason than religion.
Before the enlightenment, people believed in divine right which is power given to a ruler by God. Governments were absolute monarchies which gave rulers the right to do anything they wanted without the input of the nation's people. In addition, before the enlightenment, people didn't have the right to live, the right to be free, and the right to own property. For example, the king could execute you with no reason. He could also lock you up in a dungeon because he wanted to, and the majority of people of the nation didn't have the right to own property. This all changed after the enlightenment.
The Enlightenment - Before and After
I agree with both Locke and Rousseau's philosophies about the nature of mankind. I believe mankind is born with the gift of reason and humans are naturally good and noble. I also believe people can use the gift of reason to govern themselves. I disagree with Hobbes' philosophy that people are naturally wicked and evil since people are doing good deeds everyday for the world. I have these beliefs and opinions because, in general, society and people around me, have been kind and respectful towards me throughout my lifetime.
According to Rousseau, the social contract works by mankind working together to form a society because it is advantageous. When they join the society, they give up some of their natural rights as in harming others or other people's property. By doing so, they receive protection for their other natural rights as in life, liberty and property. If a person doesn't follow the social contract, then there are consequences as in being cast out from society.
The Social Contract
The social contract is also used today. For example, if a child disobeys rules, then he may be put in time out. This is a consequence of their poor behavior and they are "cast out" from society for a certain amount of time.
The Social Contract in Modern world
Social Contract in Government
Citizens choose their leader and agree to serve him or her. In return, the leader agrees to rule the people, as long as his or her needs are being taken care of.
These radical philosophies made people think differently about individual rights and freedom. They sparked a fire that illuminated a new worldview. The philosophies rippled over an ocean and fueled our country's revolution.
Why does this matter?
The enlightenment philosophies ended up influencing our country and shaped our government and the Declaration of Independence.
The Main Idea
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