Enlightenment Notes - Petal School District
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Enlightenment I. Setting
Wars Ignorance, Brutality and poverty increased African slave trade Serfdom flourished in Europe Crowded cities People were indifferent to human suffering Public executions Life expectancy was very low
What is a revolution? A fundamental and often rapid change in the way a system operates, whether political, economic, intellectual, or social. II. Enlightenment Academic Vocabulary: Enlightenment--was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge
III. Great Thinkers of the Enlightenment:
Great thinkers were Philosophes or lovers of wisdom.
Some philosophes advocated popular sovereignty over Divine Right of Kings
Popular sovereignty—government created by and subject to the will of the people
Academic Vocabulary: Sovereignty- the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory.
Divine Right of Kings--political and religious doctrine of royal absolutism. Monarchs were subject to no earthly authority. Power and right to rule derived directly from the will of God. King is not subject to the will of the people, the aristocracy, or the church.
Other Philosopher preferred enlightened despotism.
Enlightened despotism- a system of government in which the ruler has absolute rights over his or her subjects, but uses this power for the people’s benefit. 1
IV. Important Philosophes A. Thomas Hobbes 1588-1679
In Leviathan, he argues people are naturally cruel, greedy, and selfish. Without laws, life is “solitary, poor, nasty, and brutish”
To escape such a fate people must enter a “Social Contract.” A Social Contract is an agreement by which people gave up the “state of nature” for an organized society.
B. John Locke
He argues that government is a social contract entered into voluntarily and freely by individuals. If there are kings, they must also live under a constitution.
He stresses the importance of common consent where government exists by the consent of the governed.
The basis of Locke’s government is majority rule. Majority rule is when the act of the majority passes for the act of the whole
He says that people have Natural Rights of life, liberty, and property.
In Two Treatises of Government he said that the best government had limited power and was accepted by all citizens. If a government fails to protect Natural Rights then the people have the right to overthrow that government.
C. Baron de Montesquieu
The Spirit of the Laws (1748).
He concludes that the English have a perfect form of government because it was divided equally among three branches. He called this separation of powers. Legislative – makes laws applies laws
Executive – administers laws
Judicial – interprets &
He advocates a system of checks and balances. According to the idea of checks and balances limits are imposed on all branches of a government by giving each branch the right to change or void those acts of another that fall within its jurisdiction.
He argues despotism (Absolutism-Monarchy) is the worst type of government. Despotism--the exercise of absolute authority; absolute power or control; tyranny.
French Enlightenment writer famous for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state.
Civil liberties: the freedom of a citizen to exercise customary rights, as of speech or assembly, without unwarranted or arbitrary interference by the government.
V. Influence of the Enlightenment Spread of liberalism, particularly in America and France Academic Vocabulary: Liberalism-- the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights.
The victory of the American Revolution showed than Enlightenment ideas could be put into practice in forming a new government. It proved people could govern without the privileged class. (Popular Sovereignty) Reform, democracy, and republicanism had been placed irrevocably on the Western agenda.