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The Enlightenment
From Reason to Revolution
Old vs. New
Age of God/Faith
• 12th-16th Century
• God is in charge of creation
– Bible is the authority
– Catholic church handles
– Heresy
• Old way of thinking
Age of Reason/ “The Enlightenment”
• 17th-18th Century
• Protestant Reformation
• Scientific Theory
– Apply math/science to explain
– Galileo/Copernicus
• Reason
• Problems could be solved
by man and not simply
• “I think therefore, I am”
Main Ideas
• Philosophers/Writers develop new ideas
about science, government, and society
• Enlightenment reached it’s peak in the 1700’s
• Writers published their ideas
– Newspapers
– Pamphlets
– Journals
• Deism
• Paris, London, America
Ideas on Government
• Thomas Hobbes
– Leviathan-Man is bad and needs government to
impose order
• Absolute Monarchy
• John Locke
– all people are born equal
– Government should protect basic/natural human
– Government by consent
• Radical idea!!!!
Government Cont.
• Jean-Jacques Rousseau
– Social Contract
– Gov. should work for all not a few
• Baron de Montesquieu
– Gov powers should be separated among branches
– Dividing gov powers keeps gov in check
• Thomas Paine-Common Sense
– “Government is a necessary evil”
– Limited government is best
• Adam Smith-The Wealth of Nations
• Advocated Laissez-fare capitalism (no government regulation)
• The “invisible hand”
Common Sense
• Thomas Paine
– Immigrates to America from England
– Enlightened writer
• Common Sense
– Breaks it down for the Common Man
– Written in everyday language
• You will have a hard time reading
– Pushes for Independence for America based upon
Enlightened ideas
How does this lead to AR?
• American Colonists
– Religious toleration
– Self determination
– Leaders read Enlightened philosphers
• Resentment
– Resented English authority/absolute monarchs
– Didn’t want to pay English taxes
• Thoughts into Actions
– Early colonial documents put Enlightenment ideas on
• VA Constitution
• Common Sense
• Declaration of Independence
• American Revolution
– Limited government with check/balances
– Capitalism
– Govt to protect your rights
• French Revolution
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
Calls for total equality
Reign of Terror
Rejected by AR leaders
• Britain
– Return of limited monarchy
– Power in the hands of Parliament
Long Term Impact
• Ideas persist today
• Enlightenment thoughts are the new norm
– Democracies
• Social Democracy
• Constitutional Democracy
• Most political parties fall in with Enlightenment ideas to
a degree
• Led to development of modern world