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The Enlightenment and the American Revolution. Philosophy and the Age of Reason. The Enlightenment grew out of the Scientific Revolution of the 1500’s and 1600’s Scientific success is going to cause great confidence Scientific Method- Hypothesis, experiment, results. Main Ideas

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philosophy and the age of reason
Philosophy and the Age of Reason
  • The Enlightenment grew out of the Scientific Revolution of the 1500’s and 1600’s
  • Scientific success is going to cause great confidence
    • Scientific Method- Hypothesis, experiment, results

Main Ideas

    • natural laws- laws that govern human nature
    • natural rights
    • social contract
    • Laissez- faire
    • Philosophe- Enlightenment thinker who tried to apply science to improve society
thomas hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
  • Argued that people were naturally cruel, greedy and selfish and needed to be strictly controlled
  • Writings- The Leviathan
  • Beliefs- a strong ruler was necessary to protect the people
    • Social Contract: deal between governments and people to keep order.
john locke
John Locke
  • People were basically reasonable and moral
  • Writings: Two Treatises on Government
  • Beliefs- Natural rights- life, liberty and property
    • Right to rebel if the government doesn’t protect its people
baron de montesquieu
Baron de Montesquieu
  • Studied governments of Europe from Italy to England
  • Writings- The Spirit of Laws
  • Beliefs- Separation of powers, executive, legislative, judicial
    • Checks and balances
  • “I do not agree with a word that you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”
  • Writings- Candide and many other works
  • Beliefs- Freedom of speech
    • Spoke out against French monarchy and Catholic Church
denis diderot
Denis Diderot
  • Wanted to change the general way of thinking
  • Writings- Encyclopedia
  • Beliefs- Amassed human knowledge
    • spread ideas of Enlightenment, in 28 volumes
jean jacques rousseau
Jean- Jacques Rousseau
  • Most controversial philosophe
  • Writings- Social Contract
  • Beliefs- People should be educated otherwise they become corrupted
    • General will- the majority should rule, people give up their self interest in favor of the common good
mary wollenstonecraft
Mary Wollenstonecraft
  • Free and Equal did not apply to women
  • Writings- A Vindication of the Rights of Women
  • Beliefs- Women should be good mothers, but that should not limit their rights
adam smith
Adam Smith
  • British economist, argued that the natural forces of supply and demand should be allowed to operate and regulate business
  • Writings- Wealth of Nations
  • Beliefs- Free market- supply and demand
    • Lassiez- faire economics
enlightenment ideas spread
Enlightenment Ideas Spread
  • The Challenge of New Ideas
    • Ideas of Enlightenment quickly spread all over Europe
    • Educated people read Encyclopedia, in printed pamphlets
    • Middle class met to discuss new ideas in coffee houses and salons


    • Government and church authorities felt they had a sacred duty to defend old order
    • Banned and burned books, imprisoned writers
    • Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, disguised ideas in works of fiction
      • Stories showed corruption in society

Salons- informal gathering where writers, artists, philosophers and others exchanged ideas

    • In 1700’s middle class women invited intelligent people to their houses
    • Salon in the Rue Saint Honore-
      • Most enlightened and talented attended
      • Mozart, Diderot, Catherine the Great

Enlightened Despots- Absolute rulers who used their power to bring about political change

    • Frederick the Great
      • King of Prussia (1740-1786)
      • Lured Voltaire to Berlin to develop Prussian Academy of Science
      • Organized Civil Service, tolerated religious differences
    • Catherine the Great
      • Praised Voltaire for fighting the enemies of humankind
      • Made limited reforms in law and government
    • Joseph II
      • Traveled in disguise to see the problems amongst his subjects, “peasant emperor”
      • Abolished serfdom, granted religious toleration, chose middleclass to run government
      • All changes canceled after his death

Arts and Literature

    • Baroque- paintings were huge, colorful and full of excitement
    • Middle class could afford to have portraits painted

Trends in Music

    • Bach
    • Mozart
  • Novel
    • Robinson Crusoe- Daniel Defoe
  • Lives of Majority
    • Many people remained peasants
    • West- More prosperous
    • East- Serfdom, disappear, old ways survived
    • Equality Issues lead to revolutions


  • -the largest European nation
  • behind most other powers technologically


-builds up a strong military even though it is the smallest nation


-main German power

Europe in the 1700’s

  • France
  • -absolute monarch that is corrupt
  • -loses a number of wars to Britain and accumulates debt
  • many philosophes live here
  • Britain
  • -becomes strongest naval power
  • gains large colonial empire
  • forms United Kingdom
  • Parliamentary Democracy

Britain Globally Expands

    • United Kingdom is formed
      • Union with Scotland
      • Ireland is controlled by England
    • Constitutional Government – A government whose powers are defined and limited by law
      • Three institutions arise
        • Political Parties
        • The Cabinet
        • Prime Minister (Leader of majority party in Parliament)
expansion of ideas
Expansion of Ideas
  • American Revolution
    • Declaration of Independence
      • Right to revolt used to kick Britain out
    • US Constitution
      • separation of powers
      • checks and balances
      • natural rights
  • French Revolution- copies success of America