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The Enlightenment. Period 4/5 WHAP Fleming 1-25-05 Justin Martin, David Morgenstern, Riley Newell, Andy Wilder. The Path to enlightenment:. Started by intellectuals who loved the Scientific Revolution. All systems of thought had to be rational and scientific.

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The Enlightenment

Period 4/5 WHAP



Justin Martin, David Morgenstern, Riley Newell, Andy Wilder.


The Path to enlightenment:

  • Started by intellectuals who loved the Scientific Revolution.
  • All systems of thought had to be rational and scientific.
  • Reason, natural law, hope, and progress were buzzwords.
  • Religion was disliked and secular thought was increasing.
  • Books and stories of other cultures became best-sellers
  • Common practices that used to seem so practical became tradition.
  • Newton and Locke
  • Newton said that the whole world followed reason, so intellectuals tried discovering laws that governed politics, justice and many other things.
  • Locke’s theory of knowledge said that everyone was born with a blank mind.
  • People tried to use reason to change the environment to mold the blank minds into something better.

Philosophies and Their Ideas

  • Intellectuals involved in the movement were philosophers, few knew what that meant
  • Most came from upper middle class and nobility
  • It was an international movement but much came from France (it was the center)
  • They created a movement that touched the entire western world
  • The Enlightenment changed with each generation, it “evolved”
  • 3 French philosophers changed the movement forever, they were:
    • Montesquieu
    • Voltaire
    • Diderot
  • Montesquieu
  • Came from French nobility. He wrote Sprit of the Laws in 1748. He tried to apply to scientific method to government to determine natural laws. He identified and explained three different types of governments:
      • Republics
          • Monarchies
          • Despotism
    • Used English constitution as an example. He stressed the importance of checks and balances. His ideas were used to form our constitution

Philosophies and Their Ideas continued...

  • Voltaire
  • His real name was Francouis-Marie Arouet. Came from a middle class family in Paris. First was a playwright. He became famous and wealthy. Criticized basic traditional religion. Also heavily believed in religious toleration and Deism, which implied there being a God who created the universe and let it run according to natural laws.
  • Diderot
  • Denis Diderot became a freelance writer. Thought Christianity was fanatical and unreasonable. Wrote the Encyclopedia to “change the general way of thinking”. Supposedly led to a more tolerant and humane society.

Toward a New Science of Man

  • The Enlightenment belief that Newton’s scientific methods could be used to discover the natural laws underlying all areas of human life led to the emergence in the eighteenth century of what the philosophers called a “Science of Man”.
  • In a number of areas, such as economics, politics, and education, the philosophies arrived at natural laws that they believed governed human actions
  • The Physiocrats and Adam Smith have been viewed as founders of the modern discipline of economics
  • The founder of the Physiocrats was Francois Quesnay, a highly successful French doctor.
  • Quesnay and Physiocrats claimed they would discover the natural law of economics that governed human society
  • Their major natural law of economics was that individuals should be left free to pursue their own economic self-interest
  • Through the actions of these individuals all society would benefit
  • Consequently they argued that he state should in no way interrupt the free plat of natural economic forces by government regulations on the economy, but should leave it alone, a doctrine that subsequently became known as laissez-faire (French for leave it alone)

Later Enlightenment

  • 1760’s the worldview of enlightenment began
  • Discourse on the Origins of the Inequality of Mankind was written
  • It stated people had adopted laws and governors in order to preserve their private property, and that in that process people had been enslaved by government
  • The Social Contract was written in 1762
  • Emile was also written in this time

The Women Question in Enlightenment

  • Male intellectuals stated that women were inferior and that the male domination of women was ultimately right and necessary
  • Female intellectuals suggested ways to improve the conditions of women
  • The Vindication of the Rights of Women was written in 1792

Culture in the Enlightened Age:

  • A new style that affected architecture and decoration called Rococo spread throughout Europe. Rococo emphasized grace, charm, and gentle actions. It rejected strict geometrical patterns and included lots of curves.
  • Music- Bach and Handel were great musical geniuses of the 18th century. The century was one of the most important centuries for music in history. Bach and Handel’s music was monumental and had elaborate musical structures. Haydn and Mozart were two well known musicians from the second half of the century, and their work is considered classical today.
  • There was a great expansion of reading and publishing including magazines and newspapers.
  • Group activities among the normal population grew along with community festivals. Carnival was the most important lasting for a long time after Christmas.


  • People were fascinated by other cultures, Chinese in particular, and grew a distaste for their own.
  • People tried to use reason not religion to change the environment and to mold new thought patterns into minds.
  • Philosophers used the scientific method for new research and in general criticized religion especially Christianity.
  • Rococo, a new architectural and decoration style spread throughout Europe and emphasized grace and curving lines.
  • The century saw many great musicians such as Bach, Handel, Mozart, and Haydn.
  • Quesnay and Physiocrats’ major natural law of economics was that individuals should be left free to pursue their own economic self-interest
  • As always, men said women were inferior and women tried to gain rights.