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Unit 2: Enlightenment Thinkers

World History
by

Ryan Swarts

on 26 October 2010

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Transcript of Unit 2: Enlightenment Thinkers

Enlightenment Thinkers Thomas Hobbes: 1600's Montesquieu: 1700's Voltarie: 1700's Rousseau: 1700's John Locke: 1600's Wrote the "Leviathan" where he argued people are naturally wicked & can not be trusted. (Selfish Creatures)




People are = but this leads to competition.

Best government is one that is run by a "Sea Monster". (Absolute Monarchy) Wrote "Persian Letters" which criticized the life style and liberties of the wealthy French, as well as the church.

From his writings it is inferred that people are naturally selfish looking after ones best interest. (Selfish, Greedy)

Was an advocate for religious toleration.

Also did not feel that all people were equal. Felt women were weaker than men, but also felt the gentle nature of women could be valuable decision makers in government.

Famous for his writing, "Spirit of the Law", where he outlined the best form of government is one that is balanced with 3 Branches of government. (Democracy) Heavily influenced by French philosophers, Locke believed that all men had the ability to reason, all men are created equal, and all men had rights to life, liberty, and property.

Believed people were reasonable and moral. (Good)

Argued that people have the natural ability to govern themselves. And that the goverment must have the consent of the people to govern.

Supported a "Limited Monarchy" in his own society. But believed that ideally government should be split into 3 Branches. (Democracy) Rousseau received an excellent education in music and philosophy and is looked at as one of the most outstanding philosophers of the 18th century.

Believed that people are born good, independent, and compassionate. * If left alone in a state of nature.

He furthered believed that society's institutions corrupt naturally good individuals.

In his book "The Social Contract", Rousseau advocates for a direct democracy.




Governments should exist on the basis of a democratic "Social Contract", where people have direct say in the way their society is governed. Simon Bolivar: 1800's Bolivar as a South American military and political leader who was known as "Liberator" for giving independence too many S. American countries. (G.W. or S.A.)

Believed that humans had an imperfect nature. Embraced a philosophy of life based on "utilitarianism" (an action is determined solely by its utility in providing happiness)

Ideal form of government would be a democratic government modeled after the U.S. King Louis XIV: 1600's/1700's Louis was the King of France and was known for his extravagant life style giving him the nickname "Sun King".

Believed individuals by nature our limited, striving for their own personal ends. (Greedy, Selfish)

The king, on the other hand, is superhuman, a man who is above all and sees all and is the only one working for the 'public' good, which is identical with his own. (Divine Right)

He believed it was his right to exercise absolute power over France. He should be informed about everything. (Absolute Monarchy) Queen Elizabeth I: 1500's Before becoming the Queen of England, Elizabeth studied history, rhetoric speaking, and moral philosophy, and was fluent in 4 languages.

Elizabeth did not think that as ruler she should have absolute power over her subjects, she did believe she had been chosen by God to rule. (Limited Monarchy)

She believed that society should be a structured hierarchy w/ each person in their proper place.

Unclear of what her view is about human nature. It could be inferred that people can not be trusted to govern since she believed she needed to be a mother figure and decision maker. It is most likely would have leaned towards people being evil. Plato: 400's BC Plato was born into a wealth family in Athens, Greece. At a young age he was influenced by Socrates and begin to focus his energy on how society could be structured to bring out the best in people. (School of Athens)

From his experiences Plato believed that people have the ability to be greedy, selfish, and evil.

In his book "The Republic" Plato rejected both democracy & autocracy. His ideal government would be unified and self sufficient ruled by "philosopher-kings". Peoples roles would be highest and best use. Aristotle: 300's BC James Madison: 1700's/1800's Thomas Jefferson: 1700's/1800's Aristotle was a student of Plato's and is looked upon as one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. His writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy.(morality, logic, science, politics, metaphysics)

His believed people were not born virtuous but learn to be good. (Human Nature Good)

In his works "Politics" Aristotle describes 3 positive forms of government: monarchy, aristocracy, and constitutional rule. (Mix)

But the best form of government was one would be rule by properly educated members of the middle class. Better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion and free trade.

His writings targeted corrupt officials, freedom of speech, religious toleration. Heavily involved in setting the foundation of the United States. (Declaration of Independence)




His take on human nature is that people are born good but society tempts them into being evil. Giving one too much power can be a problematic. (Good --> Evil)

Believed in a democracy where the people are in control. "However bad a King may be, the revolt of his subjects is criminal. I am the state" "A place for everyone and everyone in their place, according to gods grand design" "It the government does not protect the people, the people have the obligation to abolish an unjust government" "To divide power is to conquer tyranny" Madison was an American politician and political philosopher who served as the fourth President of the United States. He is considered one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

He is well known for: writing the The Bill of Rights, being the main author of the Constitution, and writing over a 1/3 of the Federalist Papers.






He believed government is a response to human nature. If people were good we would need no government. People are naturally selfish.

His ideal government was a democracy with a strong central/federal government that has powers separated into 3 branches. "But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary...." "Like the U.S. & French before us we should liberate ourselves from the tyranical rule of the throne" "All people should be given by the government, Life, Liberty, and pursuit of Happiness." "A true government's not the enemy of the citizen, but his best friend, for it protects his rights, freedoms, and virtures" "Trust neither rich nor poor to govern, for their minds are filled with distracting thoughts" "Everyone is born with the ability to think for themselves" "Checks and balances along with a well written rights protect citizens from a tyrannical government" "The only true government is ont that does what the people directly want" "A ruler (philosopher-kings) must have total power, so that he may prevent man's destruction from himself" The Second Treatise outlines a theory of civil society. John Locke begins by describing the state of nature, a picture much more stable than Thomas Hobbes' state of "war of every man against every man," and argues that all men are created equal in the state of nature by God. From this, he goes on to explain the hypothetical rise of property and civilization, in the process explaining that the only legitimate governments are those that have the consent of the people. Therefore, any government that rules without the consent of the people can, in theory, be overthrown. Rousseau’s project in the Discourse on Inequality is to describe all the sorts of inequality that exist among human beings and to determine which sorts of inequality are “natural” and which “unnatural” (and therefore preventable). Rousseau begins by discussing man in his state of nature. For Rousseau, man in his state of nature is essentially an animal like any other, driven by two key motivating principles: pity and self-preservation. In the state of nature, which is more a hypothetical idea than an actual historical epoch, man exists without reason or the concept of good and evil, has few needs, and is essentially happy. The only thing that separates him from the beasts is some sense of unrealized perfectability.

This notion of perfectability is what allows human beings to change with time, and according to Rousseau it becomes important the moment an isolated human being is forced to adapt to his environment and allows himself to be shaped by it. When natural disasters force people to move from one place to another, make contact with other people, and form small groups or elementary societies, new needs are created, and men begin to move out of the state of nature toward something very different. Rousseau writes that as individuals have more contact with one another and small groupings begin to form, the human mind develops language, which in turn contributes to the development of reason. Life in the collective state also precipitates the development of a new, negative motivating principle for human actions. Rousseau calls this principle amour propre, and it drives men to compare themselves to others. This drive toward comparison to others is not rooted only in the desire to preserve the self and pity others. Rather, comparison drives men to seek domination over their fellow human beings as a way of augmenting their own happiness.

Rousseau states that with the development of amour propre and more complex human societies, private property is invented, and the labor necessary for human survival is divided among different individuals to provide for the whole. This division of labor and the beginning of private property allow the property owners and nonlaborers to dominate and exploit the poor. Rousseau observes that this state of affairs is resented by the poor, who will naturally seek war against the rich to end their unfair domination. In Rousseau’s history, when the rich recognize this fact, they deceive the poor into joining a political society that purports to grant them the equality they seek. Instead of granting equality, however, it sanctifies their oppression and makes an unnatural moral inequality a permanent feature of civil society.

Rousseau’s argument in the Discourse is that the only natural inequality among men is the inequality that results from differences in physical strength, for this is the only sort of inequality that exists in the state of nature. As Rousseau explains, however, in modern societies the creation of laws and property have corrupted natural men and created new forms of inequality that are not in accordance with natural law. Rousseau calls these unjustifiable, unacceptable forms of inequality moral inequality, and he concludes by making clear that this sort of inequality must be contested.
Analysis

Although Rousseau would later develop many of the Discourse main points more expansively, it is significant as the first work to contain all the central elements of his philosophy. In the moral and political realm, the fundamental concept here is moral inequality, or unnatural forms of inequality that are created by human beings. Rousseau is clear that all such forms of inequality are morally wrong and as such must be done away with. The means by which moral inequality is to be banished is not a topic Rousseau broaches here, though this is a question that was hotly debated during the French Revolution and subsequent revolutions in the centuries since.

In the Discourse on Inequality, Rousseau uses Hobbes’s concept of the state of nature but describes it in a very different way. Whereas Hobbes described the state of nature as a state of constant war populated by violent, self-interested brutes, Rousseau holds that the state of nature is generally a peaceful, happy place made up of free, independent men. To Rousseau, the sort of war Hobbes describes is not reached until man leaves the state of nature and enters civil society, when property and law create a conflict between rich and poor. Aside from foreshadowing the work of Marx and later theorists of class relations and societal inequality, Rousseau’s conception of natural man is a key principle in all his work: man is naturally good and is corrupted only by his own delusions of perfectability and the harmful elements of his capacity for reason. The means by which human beings are corrupted and the circumstances under which man agrees to leave the state of nature and enter human civil society are the focal points of Rousseau’s masterpiece, The Social Contract. "I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" "The Natural State of things is a war of every man against every man. People are cruel, selfish, and hopelessly violent" "If the government does not protect the poepl, the people have the obligation to abolish it"
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