2The Enlightenment Overview During the 1600s and 1700s, belief in the power of reason grew. Writers of the time sought to reform government and bring about a more just society.Despite opposition from government and Church leaders, Enlightenment ideas spread, and helped to form the concepts of democracy and nationhood.
3The EnlightenmentEnlightenment – The period in the 1700s in which people rejected traditional ideas and supported a belief in human reason.Natural Laws – According to some philosophers, rules that govern human nature.Thinkers:Thomas HobbesJohn LockeMontesquieuVoltaireDenis DiderotJean-Jacques RousseauMary WollstonecraftAdam Smith
4Thomas Hobbs Wrote: Leviathan Thomas Hobbes believed that people were greedy and selfish, and that only a powerful government could create a peaceful, orderly society.
5Thomas HobbsSocial Contract – An agreement by which people give up a state of nature for an organized society.Hobbes came to this view during the English Civil War, and favored absolute monarch, which could impose order and compel obedience.
6John Locke Wrote: Two Treatises of Government Like Hobbes, John Locke was also an English thinker of the late 1600s, but he rejected absolute monarchy and had a more optimistic view of human nature. Locke believed that people were basically moral and that all people possess natural rights, such as the right to life, liberty, and property.Natural Rights – Rights that belong to all humans from birth.
7John LockeLocke argued that people form governments to protect their natural rights.Locke also said that if the government does not protect these natural rights, then the people have the right to overthrow it.
8John LockeThis idea of a right to revolution was radical at that time. Locke’s ideas about natural rights and revolution later influenced Thomas Jefferson’s writing of the Declaration of Independence and the French Revolutionaries.
9The Baron de Montesquieu Wrote: The Spirit of the LawsWealthy French thinker Charles Louis de Secondat (the Baron de Montesquieu) studied ancient history and the governments of Europe. In his book he spoke well of Britain’s limited monarchy.The Baron deMontesquieuHe wrote that the powers of government should be separated into three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The separation of powers would prevent tyranny by creating what is called checks and balances. Each branch could keep the other two from gaining too much power.
10CongressMakes the LawPresidentEnforcesthe LawSupreme CourtInterprets the Law
11Philosophes – Member of a group of the Enlightenment who tried to apply the methods of science to the improvement of society.VoltaireVoltaire was a French thinker of the 1700s, and probably the most famous philosophe. Voltaire believed in free speech, and used his sharp wit to criticize the French government and the Catholic Church for their failure to permit religious toleration and intellectual freedom.
12Voltaire wrote many books and pamphlets in which he defended freedom of thought, and detested the slave trade.VoltaireBecause of his criticisms Voltaire offended the French government and the Catholic Church, and was imprisoned and forced into exile.
13Denis Diderot Wrote: Encyclopedia Another philosophe, Diderot labored 25 years to produce his 28-volume Encyclopedia, which was a collection of articles by such Enlightenment thinkers as Montesquieu and Voltaire.In the articles the philosophes denounced slavery, praised freedom of expression, and advocated education for all. They attacked divine right theory and traditional religions.
14Denis DiderotThe Catholic Church threatened to excommunicate anyone who bought or read the Encyclopedia, and the French government said that it was an attack on public morals.Despite these efforts to ban the Encyclopedia, the book sold thousands of copies and helped Enlightenment ideas spread throughout Europe.
15Jean-Jacques Rousseau Wrote: The Social ContractJean-JacquesRousseauJean-Jacques Rousseau was another 1700s French philosophe. He believed that people were naturally good but were corrupted by the evils of society, such as the unequal distribution of property.He also believed that government should not be too powerful and must be freely elected. Rousseau believed in the will of the majority, which he called the “general will,” and that the majority should always work for the common good.
16Jean-Jacques Rousseau Unlike many Enlightenment thinkers who put the individual first, Rousseau felt that the individual should be subordinate to the good of the community.Rousseau’s hatred of all forms of political and economic oppression would lead revolutionaries in the years to come.
17Mary Wollstonecraft Wrote: A Vindication of the Rights of Women Mary Wollstonecraft was a well-known British social critic who believed that although a woman’s first duty was to be a good mother, a woman should also be able to decide what is best for her, and not be completely dependant upon her husband.In her book, Wollstonecraft called for equal education for girls and boys. She believed that education could give women the tools to compete with men in public life.
18Adam Smith Wrote: The Wealth of Nations Physiocrats – Enlightenment thinkers who searched for natural laws to explain economics.AdamSmithAdam Smith was a British economist who believed that the free market should be allowed to regulate business activity. Smith was a strong supporter of Laissez faire economics.Laissez Faire – Policy allowing business to operate with little or no government interference.
19Smith believed that all economic growth was linked to the market forces of supply and demand. Smith believed that whenever there was a demand for goods or services suppliers would seek to meet it. They do so because of the profits they can get from fulfilling the demand.AdamSmithSmith’s ideas would gain great popularity, and would help to shape immensely productive economies in the 1800s and 1900s.
20Impact of the Enlightenment The Enlightenment had a profound impact throughout Europe in the 1700s.Greater numbers of people began to question established beliefs and customs.Enlightenment beliefs affected leaders and the development of nations.Many writers, such as Voltaire, were thrown into prison, and their books were banned and burned.Many government and Church leaders worked to defend the established systems (censorship).
21Impact of the Enlightenment Censorship – A restriction on access to ideas and information.Salons – Informal social gathering at which writers, artists, and philosophers exchanged ideas; originated in France in the 1600s.
22Impact of the Enlightenment Some monarchs accepted Enlightenment ideas, and they were known as enlightened despots.Enlightened Despot – An absolute ruler who used his or her power to reform society and bring about political or social change.Maria Theresa – Forced nobles and clergy to pay taxes and not just peasants, and also improved education.Joseph II – (Maria’s son) Legal reforms, religious toleration, ended censorship, and abolished serfdom.Catherine the Great – Asked for advice from nobles, free peasants, and townspeople (unprecedented in Russia), built schools and hospitals, promoted women’s education, and religious tolerance.
23Impact of the Enlightenment DemocracyEnlightenment ideas inspired a sense of individualism, a belief in personal freedom, and a sense of the basic equality of human beings. These concepts, along with challenges to traditional authority, became important in the growth of democracy.
24Impact of the Enlightenment NationalismNationalism also grew. As people in a country drew together to fight for a democratic government, strong feelings of nationalism arose. In the late 1700s, Enlightenment ideas would contribute to an age of Revolution.
25SummaryThe thinkers of the Enlightenment emphasized reason to suggest reforms in government and society. Many Europeans, including several monarchs, were influenced by these ideas and sought to change the old order. These changes had an impact on all of Europe as democratic and nationalistic ideas grew and contributed to revolutions, such as the revolutions in America and France.