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Philosopher Stations. Historical Context in France. In France, people were unhappy with the rule of King Louis XIV. His constant war-mongering, exorbitant spending (see: Versailles), and attempt to regulate several aspects of peoples lives, including religion, did not sit well with the people. .

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historical context in france
Historical Context in France
  • In France, people were unhappy with the rule of King Louis XIV. His constant war-mongering, exorbitant spending (see: Versailles), and attempt to regulate several aspects of peoples lives, including religion, did not sit well with the people.
historical context key vocab
Historical Context-Key Vocab
  • *monger-a person promoting something undesirable (in this case, war)
  • *exorbitant-extreme, unreasonable
brief biography
Brief Biography
  • Montesquieu was born in France to a wealthy family, but spent much of his childhood with working class (peasant) children. As a result, he developed an understanding of what their life was like.
  • Montesquieu attended Oratorian College de Juilly and received a law degree from the University of Bordeaux.
  • During his early career, he worked in the criminal division of Bordeaux’s Parlement*-at this time, it was mainly a judicial and administrative institution in France.
  • After resigning his post in the Parlement, Montesquieu was elected to the Academy Francaise* and traveled widely.
major work s
Major Work(s)
  • The Spirit of the Laws
key ideas
Key Ideas
  • The laws of different countries should not all be the same. They must be adapted to the particular needs of that country and its people.
  • To prevent corruption, Montesquieu believed that an ideal government should be broken up into 3 separate branches that had different responsibilities: an executive branch (enforces the laws), judicial branch (interprets the laws), and a legislative branch (makes the laws). This idea is called separation of powers.
key ideas continued
Key Ideas Continued
  • He also believed that the different branches of government should be balanced (equal). He also believed that the different branches should have the ability to limit each other’s power, so that no one branch would become too powerful and threaten people’s liberty. This idea is called checks and balances.
reading the chart
Reading the Chart
  • The circles contain the 3 branches of government in the US: the executive, legislative, and judicial.
  • The arrows pointing away from a circle indicate a power that that branch has over another branch (whichever branch the arrow is pointing to.)

Indicates a power the legislative branch has over the executive branch.



brief biography1
Brief Biography
  • He was born in Geneva, Switzerland.
  • His father was in charge of his early education.
  • At the age of ten, Rousseau moved in with a pastor’s wife and apprenticed to an engraver. (His father had fled Geneva to avoid arrest on a poaching charge.)
  • He left Geneva at 16 and moved to France where he spent a good portion of his later life.
  • He was a musician and aspired to be a composer and pursued writing as a secondary passion.
major works
Major Works
  • Emile
  • Social Contract
key ideas1
Key Ideas
  • Believed people are born good, independent, and compassionate.
  • Believed that for a government to have real authority, it must be based on an agreement, or contract with society. This is called the social contract. In the social contract, people give up some natural freedoms in exchange for protection.
  • He believed that the government should then follow the general will -or the things that are in the best interests of society as a whole.
  • He believed that all men were equal, but that women were inherently inferior to men.
brief biography2
Brief Biography
  • He was born in in Paris, France to a noble family with extensive privileges during the time of Louis XIV.
  • He had an elite education, attending College Louis-le-Grand.
  • His father hoped that he would become a lawyer or engage in a similar profession, however he chose to pursue writing instead.
  • In 1726, Voltaire left France, moving to in England where he remained until 1729.
  • He returned to France and continued to write, establishing himself as an author and satirist. His writings were very controversial.
key ideas beliefs
Key Ideas/Beliefs
  • He was a major supporter of religious tolerance, or the idea that people should be able to worship whatever religion they choose.
  • He was also a proponent (supporter) of freedom of speechand freedom of the press.
  • He believed that democracy was not a good form of government because the common people were not capable of governing themselves. The best type of gov’t, according to Voltaire, was one headed by a good, fair king.
historical context in england locke hobbes
Historical Context in England- Locke & Hobbes
  • From 1642 to 1651, a violent civil war raged in England over political and religious issues. At the beginning of the Revolution, the king, Charles I, was tried for treason and executed. Throughout the course of the war, power changed hands many times. It was a period of incredible uncertainty and political unrest.
  • Tensions continued and in the 1680s, another crisis developed. Protestants feared that King James II (Catholic) was going to try and put Catholics in power. Violence erupted and James was forced to flee. This period ended with the Glorious Revolution, a bloodless revolution where Mary and William of Orange took the throne in England. The powers of the monarchs was limited by a Bill of Rights.
  • These events had a profound impact on Locke and Hobbes, shaping their views of the nature of mankind and the best type of government.
brief biography3
Brief Biography
  • He was born in Wrington, England to parents with limited finances.
  • He attended Westminster school and Christ Church College.
  • Locke considered becoming a minister, worked as a doctor for an aristocratic family, and later become a philosopher and political scientist.
  • Locke’s father was involved in the English Civil War, and he was aware of all of the chaos going on around him.
  • Locke spent some time in exile during the turbulent years of the 1680s and witnessed the Glorious Revolution.
major works2
Major Works
  • Two Treatises of Government
key ideas beliefs1
Key Ideas/Beliefs
  • He believed that man is not born good or evil; he becomes one or the other as a result of his experiences and environment.
  • He believed that all men had three natural rights (rights that every man had and could not be taken away): life, liberty, and property.
  • He denied the divine right of kings to rule. He believed that the true basis of government was a social contract, or agreement, among free people.
  • He also believed that governments were established to protect people’s natural rights. If the government was not performing its duty, the people had the right to rebel.
brief biography4
Brief Biography
  • He was born in Malmesbury, England. He was the son of a clergyman.
  • He studied at Oxford University.
  • He worked as a tutor for a wealthy family.
  • He traveled widely meeting many writers, scientists, and philosophers.
  • Hobbes lived through the chaos of the English Civil War (He sided with the King who was beheaded…) The chaos of this period had a great impact on Hobbes.
major works3
Major Works
  • Leviathan
key ideas beliefs2
Key Ideas/Beliefs
  • He believed that in the state of nature (before there were governments) people were quick to fight.
  • He believed that without government, life would be “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
  • He believed that governments were based on a social contract whereby people gave up some rights in exchange for protection. However, once people agreed to give up power, they lost the right to overthrow, replace, or even question the government.
  • He believed that the best government was one ruled by a single individual who had complete authority over the people (aka absolute monarchy).
brief biography5
Brief Biography
  • She was born in London, England.
  • She did not receive a formal education.
  • She worked as a lady’s companion, a governess, and a school teacher.
  • She later worked as in the literary fields, writing fiction, philosophical pieces, and reviews. She also translated.
  • She had two daughters, Fanny and Mary. (Fun fact: her daughter Mary wrote Frankenstein!)
major works4
Major Works
  • Vindication of the Rights of Women
key ideas beliefs3
Key Ideas/Beliefs
  • She rejected the idea that women were intellectually inferior to men.
  • She believed that women had a right to education and that educating women would make them better mothers.
  • She opposed the idea of governments being run by monarchs.
  • She supported the idea that people had natural rights. (see: Locke)
brief biography6
Brief Biography
  • He was born in Kirkcaldy, Scotland and was raised by his widowed mother.
  • He attended the University of Glasgow (in Scotland) and Balliol College in Oxford (England).
  • He later became chair of moral philosophy at the University of Glasgow.
  • He left the University to tutor a young nobleman, the Duke of Buccleuch. During this time, he travelled widely, visiting nations such as Switzerland and France.
  • After his time as tutor was finished, he returned to Kirkcaldy and wrote his most famous work, The Wealth of Nations.
major works5
Major Works
  • The Wealth of Nations
key ideas beliefs4
Key Ideas/Beliefs
  • Smith believed that the government should have very limited involvement in the economy, a concept that is referred to as laissez-faire (French term, in this context it roughly translates to: “let it be” or “leave it alone”)