The Enlightenment Thinkers The Enlightenment A change in outlook using reason as the key to human progress. Thinkers were inspired by Galileo and Newton. The method of observation and logic is used to approach problems of human life. Ideas will be based on rational thought and understanding. The Enlightenment In France, thinkers called philosophes (or “philosophers”) would gather in informal meetings called salons. There, they would exchange and debate ideas. The Basic Questions Enlightenment thinkers wanted to learn more about human life using these questions: 1) What natural law governs the way people should live? 2) How well do our institutions agree with natural law? 3) Does natural law give all people certain rights? 4) What is the best form of government? Philosophers Philosophers did not always agree about the answers to these questions. Some supported absolute rule by the king. Others argued that the •They all shared a trust in reason and people should have a observation as the best way of understanding say in their own and progress. government. The Five Thinkers Thomas Hobbes John Locke Baron de Montesquieu Voltaire Cesare Beccaria Thomas Hobbes His Question: What is the basis of social order? His Observation: Human beings were naturally cruel, selfish, and greedy. In 1651, he published a book called Leviathan. He wrote that people are driven by a restless desire for power. Without laws or other social controls, people would always be in conflict. Absolute Rule by Kings Thomas Hobbes Governments were created to protect people from their own selfishness. People are selfish by nature and can not be trusted to make decisions that were good for society as a whole. John Locke His Observation: He denied the divine right of kings to rule. In 1690, he published Two Treatises of Government. His book justified a strong parliament which protects human rights. He argued that the purpose of government was to protect people’s natural rights. These rights include the right to life, liberty, and property. Natural Rights John Locke In exchange for our rights, people give the government the power to make and enforce laws. The true basis of government was a social contract (or agreement), among free people. His theory is that a governments authority is based on the consent of the people. If the government fails to respect people’s rights, it can be overthrown. Baron de Montesquieu His Observation: Too much power in the hands of any one person or group will led to tyranny. French author, in 1748, he published The Spirit of Laws. He argued that the best way to protect human rights is to divide power among three branches of government. Each branch of government checks (limits) the power of the others. Separation of Powers Baron de Montesquieu The Three Branches of Government 1) Legislative branch – makes the laws 2) Executive branch – enforces the laws 3) Judicial branch – interprets the laws Voltaire His Observation: Freedom of thought and expression is the only way to fight oppression. He was a French writer and participant in Paris salons. He supported religious tolerance – allowing people to believe religion in their own way. Strong supporter of free “I disapprove of what you say, speech. but I will defend to the death your right to say it” Cesare Beccaria His Observation: He studied criminology, the scientific study of crime and punishment. He objected the harsh practices that were common in his day and called for changes in criminal law to protect the rights of the accused. Torture was common and people found guilty of crimes were often sentenced to “Punishment should fit the death. seriousness of the crime” Cesare Beccaria On Crimes and Punishments He argued that laws exist to preserve society and order and that punishment did not have to be brutal. A person accused of a crime should receive a fair and speedy trial. Torture should never be used. Capital punishment (putting someone to death) should never be used. Punishment should fit the seriousness of the crime. Women of the Enlightenment Enlightenment thinking influenced many throughout Europe and inspired revolutions in America and France. Although women of the 1700’s did not have the same rights or status as men, there were a small few who played an important role by helping to spread ideas about rights and equality to women.
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