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Essay about What Were The Ideals Of The Enlightenment

During the 17th and 18th centuries, a revolutionary movement called the Enlightenment developed in Europe. In the wake of the Enlightenment, and the new ways of thinking it prompted, scholars and philosophers emerged who thought of innovative ideas which prompted and affected the course of the democratic revolutions in England and the United States. Their innovative ideas began a new age, where philosophers laid down old principles and began a new age where they challenged old accepted beliefs. They extended the boundaries of the known world in what became known as the Age of Exploration.

Out of all this came new philosophies about government, human nature, and politics. Of course, the philosophers had irreconcilable differences, but they shared one common goal: to apply reason to all aspects of life. Their ideas and principles deriving from the Enlightenment would continue to affect Europe and the rest of the Western world for decades and even centuries to come. The Enlightenment began from some major ideas put forth by two English political thinkers of the 1600s, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke.

Both men experienced the political revolution in England. 5] Yet, they came to different conclusions about government and human nature. Hobbes had a very pessimistic view of human nature. In his political framework, Leviathan, Hobbes emphasizes that all people are born selfish and ambitious. In order to obtain law and order he believed that a strong government was required to control people. He called this idea a social contract where people exchanged their rights for protection and order from the government. In Hobbes’ view this meant that the only system of government capable to rule over humans was an absolute monarchy.

John Locke on the other hand held a more optimistic view of human nature. [2] He believed that people could learn from experiences and improve themselves. As reasonable beings, they had the natural ability to govern their own affairs and to look after the welfare of society. Locke criticized absolute monarchy and favored the idea of self-government. According to Locke all people are born with three natural rights, life, liberty, and property. The purpose of the government according to Locke is to protect these rights. If a government failed to do so, citizens had a right to rebel.

These ideas of government by popular consent and the right to rebel helped inspire struggles for liberty in England during the course of the Glorious Revolution. Locke’s revolutionary ideas ultimately influenced and triumphed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. At the time Hobbes’ theories and beliefs closely resembled that of the English monarchy whereas Locke’s ideas closely resembled the common people. Locke’s ideas provided inspiration for eighteenth century mainstream Enlightenment thinkers and people. [9] His philosophical outlook helped create a political climate that influenced the revolution against King James II.

Locke spoke out about King James II “miscarriages,” which was extremely important to Locke’s theory in several ways. First, they justified the removal of James. As Locke stated, if there were no miscarriages, “our complaints were mutiny and our redemtion rebellion and we ought to returne as fast as we can to our old obedience. “[9] This statement from Locke as well as others that he published anonymously or wrote in private papers-played a part in the Revolution. When people read these letters by Locke they were inspired to rebel against their king so that they would have their natural rights and could govern their own affairs.

Second, Locke’s essay, “Old England’s Legal Constitution” influenced the new government that was forming. In his essay he explains the need for a Parliament which would allow for the people to be represented in the government. This idea developed the new form of government which consisted of a Parliament as well as monarchs that shared power. Finally, Locke’s book, Two Treatises of Government published in 1690 solidified the dramatic changes that had occurred with the Glorious Revolution. It justified the revolution that took place and explained the necessity of the revolution.

It stated that the people had an absolute right to rebel against a government that violated or failed to protect life which prevented any other monarch from taking power and rights from the people. The Glorious Revolution’s impact not only affected the people of that era but it can still be seen today. His belief that a government’s power comes from the consent of the people is the foundation of modern political thinking in England. [9] The Glorious Revolution was a turning point in England’s constitutional power.

The Glorious Revolution forced William and Mary to recognize Parliament as their partner in governing. England had turned from being an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy, where laws limited the rulers powers. During this period of time Locke proved to be an influential figure in the new form of government taking place in England. To clearly define the limits of royal power Parliament drafted a Bill of Rights in 1689. The English Bill of Rights limited the monarchy’s power and protected free speech in Parliament.

Locke advised Somers, an influential political figure in 1689 when the Bill of Rights was introduced in the Convention Parliament to advocate for its creation and to add rights for the people that could never been taken away from the people. In order to maintain some power in England, William and Mary had no other option than to consent to these newly formed laws. After the Bill of Rights, no British monarch could rule without Parliament. At the same time, Parliament was not capable of ruling without the consent of the monarchy.

If the two sides disagreed then everything would come to a standstill. 3] The solution to this growing issue was a cabinet, a group of government ministers and officials. These ministers acted in the ruler’s name but in reality represented the major part of Parliament. Therefore they acted as the bridge between the monarchy and the majority party represented by the Parliament. Over the course of several centuries, the cabinet became the center of the government. Under the cabinet system, the leader of the cabinet became the prime minister. This system of government still continues in England today.

England’s Glorious Revolution and the changes in government which had been inspired by Locke had a great impact on its government and inspired American colonies when they considered rebelling against England about 100 years later. Locke’s ideas about freedom and self-government formed the basis of democratic thought. His ideas provided a strong argument against the divine right of monarchs. Hobbes was a monarchist, his idea of a social contract was important for the development of democracy. [6] His idea of a social contract is evident in the United States Constitution.

In order for the government to create laws and keep order the US citizens must give up some of their rights. His book Leviathan founded the basis of Western political philosophy. Other thinkers from the Enlightenment that had an impact after the democratic revolution in America were Voltaire, Rousseau, Montesquieu, and Beccaria. All four of these philosophers had large impacts on the creation of the U. S. Constitution. They all believed in certain rights for humans that should not be taken away. However, these rights differed per person. Voltaire argued in favor of tolerance, freedom of speech, and religious tolerance.

Rousseau advocated for democracy. Unlike Hobbes, his social contract was an agreement between individuals to create a government. Montesquieu also recognized liberty as a natural right. Beccaria advocated for natural rights especially for prisoners. He believed that prisoners should not be tortured which was added into the Bill of Rights to protect the rights of accused and prohibited cruel punishment. Colonial leaders used the Enlightenment thinkers philosophies to justify independence. The colonists had asked for their rights as the people in England had done 100 years before them, but the King George III refused.

Therefore, the colonists were entitled to rebel against the king who had broken the social contract. The ideas formed by the philosophers had also fostered a yearning among the colonists for natural rights as well as liberty and a democratic government that protected their freedoms. This yearning for justice had helped the colonists fight against the British for their freedom. Since Locke had stated that people nad the right to rebel against an unjust monarch, the colonists created a Declaration of Independence stating their separation from England as well as a list of abuses acted by King George III.

In the end the American colonists astounded the world and won their long awaited independence. Locke’s ideas about selfgovernment inspired people and became cornerstones of modern democratic thought. His ideas on the three natural rights, life, liberty, and property were fundamental to the writing of the U. S. Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson was inspired by Locke’s philosophies and often used Locke’s philosophies in the writing of the Declaration of Independence.

For example, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, … ith certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed… “[5] This line written by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence echoes Locke’s ideas on the three natural laws which is clear evidence of the direct impact philosophers had on the democratic revolution in the United States. The Federal System was also influenced by the teachings of Enlightenment philosophers.

For example, the federal system is mostly based off of Montesquieu’s beliefs. Montesquieu had established a system with three separate branches of government, executive, legislative, and judicial. [4] This system of government is used in the US federal system and also lead to the foundation of a system of checks and balances, which allowed for each branch to check the actions of the other branches. The delegates also added ten amendments to the constitution known as the Bill of Rights. These amendments protected basic freedoms which had been advocated by Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire, and Beccaria.

The Constitution, federal system, and Bill of Rights marked a turning point in the people’s ideas of government. All three systems put Enlightenment ideas into practice. This is how the major ideas of philosophers affected the democratic revolution is England and the United States of America. The major ideas of philosophers influenced the countries around them to make political and economic reforms, their innovative ideas affected the revolutions course because it lead to a new government system in England as well as the foundation for one the most influential countries in the world today, America.

These two revolutions relate to the IB global context fairness and development since the two revolutions made significant advances in democracy, politics, government, and civil society. There was no fairness and equality until reforms were made so that people could imagine a better and hopeful future. For example, the United States Constitution proves to be an example of fairness developing over time. The Constitution gained Amendments over the years in order to give equality to all people today due to the major ideas of philosophers. [7]

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