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The Enlightenment 1700 - 1800. Focus Question. What effects did Enlightenment philosophers have on government and society?. Do Now:. Find your name and take a seat. Take out your binder and open to a new page. Answer: What are some negatives of having an absolute ruler?.

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focus question
Focus Question
  • What effects did Enlightenment philosophers have on government and society?
do now
Do Now:

Find your name and take a seat.

Take out your binder and open to a new page.


What are some negatives of having an absolute ruler?

do now what does it mean to be enlightened
Do Now: What does it mean to be “enlightened”?
  • Free from ignorance, prejudice, or superstition
  • Philosophers emphasized political goals like:
    • Individual freedom
    • Limited government
    • Education
    • Economic freedoms
      • (Laissez-faire “Hands off”-

government not interfere with

business and the marketplace

  • Their goal = REFORM!
scientific revolution sparks the enlightenment
Scientific Revolution Sparks the Enlightenment
  • During the 1500s & 1600s, scientists changed the way people looked at the world.
  • Their success convinced educated Europeans of the power of human reason.
    • Led to natural law (rules discovered by reason)
  • Natural law could be used to solve social, political, & economic problems.
thomas hobbes vs john locke
Thomas Hobbes vs. John Locke

human nature & the role of government

  • - People = cruel, greedy, & selfish
  • Need absolute monarchy
  • Social contract (people give up freedom for an organized society)
  • People = reasonable & moral
  • Limited gov that people can overthrow
  • Natural rights (life, liberty, & property)
writers face censorship
Writers Face Censorship
  • Not everyone liked the new ideas of Enlightenment thinkers.
    • Most government & church leaders felt they had to defend the old, traditional views.
  • Censorship - banned & burned books and put writers in prison
    • To get around this, writers hid their ideas in fiction
ideas spread in salons
Ideas Spread in Salons

Salons – informal social gatherings where writers, artists, philosophers, and others exchange ideas


Mary Wollstonecraft

“free and equal”

Vindication of the Rights of Women

Equal education for girls and boys

new economic thinking
New Economic Thinking
  • Laissez Faire replaces mercantilism
    • Businesses should operate with little to no gov. interference
  • Adam Smith
    • Wrote The Wealth of Nations
    • Free market should control business activity
    • All parts of economy were linked to laws of supply & demand
enlightened despots
Enlightened Despots
  • Philosophes tried to convince absolute monarchs that reform was necessary – some accepted new ideas

Catherine the Great


- abolished torture

- religious tolerance

  • However, in the end, they simply wanted more power for themselves.
lives of the masses change slowly
Lives of the Masses Change Slowly
  • Most Europeans were untouched by the Enlightenment.
  • Serfdom still existed in some places.
  • The lives of villagers changed slowly.
  • In 1800s, things would change.
  • Study many governments throughout time
  • Wrote The Spirit of the Laws
    • Gov. should be divided by functions & powers
    • Three branches of legislative, executive, & judicial
    • Checks & balances
  • Most famous philosophe
  • Used wit & humor to expose the abuses of his time
    • Spoke out against inequality, injustice, & superstition
    • Hated the slave trade & religious prejudice

“My trade is to say what I think.”

  • Produced a 28-volume set of books called the Encyclopedia
  • Wanted “to change the way of general thinking” on topics like gov., philosophy, & religion
  • Articles denounced slavery, praised freedom of expression, & encouraged education for all
  • French gov. & Catholic Church tried to ban it or excommunicate people who read it
  • Like Locke, he believed people were basically good
  • Wrote The Social Contract
    • Society placed too many controls on people’s behavior
    • Some controls were necessary but should be minimal
  • Only governments that were freely elected should impose these controls
women challenge the philosophes
Women Challenge the Philosophes
  • Enlightenment slogan was “free & equal”
    • This did not apply to woman
    • Their rights were limited to the home & family
  • Some women protested this view
    • Germaine de Stael of France
    • Mary Wollstonecraft
      • A Vindication for the Rights of Women

(equal education for girls & boys)

laissez faire economy
Laissez-faire Economy
  • Laissez-faire economists argue that society would be better off if the government did not interfere with business and the marketplace.
  • What role should the government play in a nation’s economy?
enlightenment ideas spread
Enlightenment Ideas Spread
  • Educated people read Diderot’s Encyclopedia
  • Small, cheaper pamphlets on various topics also spread throughout Europe