The enlightenment
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The Enlightenment. The Age of Reason. The Age of Reason. Scholars were beginning to challenge long-held beliefs about science, religion, and government. The scholars relied on reason and logical thought instead of religious teachings to explain the world.

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The Enlightenment

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The enlightenment

The Enlightenment

The Age of Reason


The age of reason

The Age of Reason

  • Scholars were beginning to challenge long-held beliefs about science, religion, and government.

  • The scholars relied on reason and logical thought instead of religious teachings to explain the world.

  • The Enlightenment was a time period during which reason guided people’s thoughts about philosophy, society, and politics.

  • The Enlightenment was known as the Age of Reason.


The roots of the enlightenment

The Roots of the Enlightenment

  • The Scientific Revolution

    • Observation and reason were revealing laws that applied throughout the physical world.

    • Enlightenment thinkers wanted to apply this approach to human life. They asked questions like: What natural law governs the way people should live? Does natural law give all people certain rights? What is the best form of government?

  • The Renaissance and Reformation

    • Humanists of the Renaissance questioned accepted beliefs.

    • During the Reformation, Protestants rebelled against the Church and put individual thought above the authority of the Church.


The roots of the enlightenment1

The Roots of the Enlightenment

  • Classical and Christian Influences

    • The ideas that people should have a say in their government goes back to the democracy of ancient Athens or the republic of ancient Rome.

    • While Enlightenment thinkers preferred rational understanding to faith based on the Bible, most of them continued to believe in God. They saw human progress as a sign of God’s goodness.

  • New Ideas vs. Old Beliefs

    • The Enlightenment thinkers questioned the basis of religion, morality, and government. They wanted to examine everything in the light of reason. This led to clashes with the accepted beliefs.


Enlightenment thinkers

Enlightenment Thinkers

  • Thomas Hobbes:

    • Absolute Rule by Kings

    • One of the first Enlightenment thinkers.

    • He tried to give a rational basis for absolute (unlimited) rule by kings.

    • He argued that people are selfish and could not be trusted to make decisions that were good for society as a whole. Only a government that has a ruler with absolute authority could maintain an orderly society.

    • He was important because he applied objective observation and sound reasoning to the problems of politics.


Enlightenment thinkers1

Enlightenment Thinkers

  • John Locke:

    • Natural Rights

    • He favored a constitutional monarchy – a basic set of laws limits the ruler’s power.

    • He denied the divine right of kings.

    • A government’s authority is based on the consent of the governed. If a government did not respect the rights of the people it could be overthrown.

    • The purpose of government was to protect the people’s natural rights – life, liberty, and property.

    • A huge influence on Thomas Jefferson and our Declaration of Independence.


Enlightenment thinkers2

Enlightenment Thinkers

  • Baron de Montesquieu:

    • Separation of Powers

    • He was concerned with how to protect political liberty.

    • Divide power among three branches of government which would be separate but equal. Legislative made the laws, executive enforced the laws, judicial interpreted the laws. Each branch checked the others.

    • A huge influence on our founding fathers who wrote the Constitution. Separation of powers is a key part of our government.


Enlightenment thinkers3

Enlightenment Thinkers

  • Voltaire:

    • Religious Tolerance and Free Speech

    • A writer of the Enlightenment who made fun of the idea that a world made by God must necessarily be the best of all possible worlds.

    • Believed in freedom of thought and expression.

    • He believed in religious tolerance which meant allowing people to practice religion in their own way.

    • He also spoke out for the right of free speech.


Key ideas

Key Ideas

  • The ability to reason makes humans unique.

  • Reason can be used to solve problems and improve people’s lives.

  • Reason can free people from ignorance, superstition, and unfair government.

  • The natural world is governed by laws that can be discovered through reason.

  • Like the natural world, human behavior is governed by natural laws.

  • Governments should reflect natural laws and encourage education and debate.


Impact on u s government

Impact on U. S. Government

  • The American Revolution

    • The Declaration of Independence stated Locke’s ideas on natural rights and the purpose of government.

    • Also the right to overthrow an unjust government

  • The Constitution

    • Montesquieu’s idea of separation of powers

    • The Bill of Rights protects the freedom of religion and speech stated by Voltaire


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