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APEH, The Age of Enlightenment

APEH, The Age of Enlightenment



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Published by: Julie on Dec 08, 2008
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AP European Historyhttp://guidesbyjulie.blogspot.com/ 
The Age of Enlightenment Eighteenth-Century Thought
THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION: BACON AND DESCARTESEnglishman Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) and Frenchman René Descartes (1596 – 1650) wereimportant for their achievements in establishing a reliable method to gaining knowledge. Both wereconcerned with how human beings could know anything with certainty or have any accurateknowledge about the world of nature.Francis BaconBacon had planned to create a multi-volumed work called
Instauratio Magna 
or “Great Renewal,” of which he only completed two parts. In the first,
Novum Organum 
, he insisted on the inductive method– one must reason from the concrete to the abstract. By making a series of observations, one canthen make generalizations based on observations. While thinkers before Bacon used the inductivemethod, he formalized it and became a leading philosopher of empiricism, the philosophy which basesknowledge off of observation and experience. He believed that there was too much emphasis placedon tradition and the work of classical thinkers, such as Aristotle.In his second part,
The Advancement of Learning 
, he developed the same idea. In
The New Atlantis 
, hewrote about a scientific utopia where everyone enjoyed a perfect society through their knowledge andcommand of nature. An important element in the Baconian tradition is the usefulness of knowledge.Since knowledge can be used for practical purposes, then that shows it is true knowledge.Enthusiastic Baconians believed that knowledge is power.However, Bacon never had much influence on the development of actual science, due to his failure tounderstand the role of mathematics.René DescartesDescartes is considered the inventor of coordinate geometry. He showed that any algebraic formulacould be plotted as a curve in space, and that any curve in space could be converted into algebraicterms. He promoted deductive reasoning, which involves reasoning out a general law from specificcases, then applying it broadly to cases not specifically observed.In his
Discourse on Method 
, he began by doubting all authorities and all knowledge until he was leftwith one thing he could not doubt: his own existence. Thus, “
Cogito, ergo sum 
,” “I think, therefore Iam.” He then continued and was able to deduce the existence of God. He arrived at a philosophy of dualism, which held that God created two kinds of fundamental reality in the universe: “thinkingsubstance” – mind, spirit, consciousness, subjective experience and “extended substance” –everything occupying space and then objective. Within the material world, the world of extension,mathematical laws could reign supreme. They constituted a complete system. Reason could only beapplied to the mechanical and mathematical realm of matter.
AP European Historyhttp://guidesbyjulie.blogspot.com/ 
The Age of Enlightenment Eighteenth-Century Thought
FORMATIVE INFLUENCESIsaac NewtonNewton, after inventing calculus and using a new measurement of the size of the earth andexperiments with circular motion, he was able to publish his
Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy 
in 1687. This book showed that all motion could be described by the same mathematicalformulas because of universal gravitation. Newton also encouraged Europeans to approach the studyof nature directly. He always insisted on empirical support for his general laws and constantly usedempirical experience to check his rational speculations. The emphasis on concrete experience becamea key feature of Enlightenment thought.John LockeIn
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding 
, Locke argued that all humans enter the world as a
tabula rasa 
, or blank slate. Human personality was a result of education and the environment a personwas exposed to. Locke’s psychology rejected the Christian doctrine that human beings arepermanently flawed by sin. He agreed with Bacon’s idea of empirical philosophy, insisting onexperience and observation as the source of truth. Locke denied Descartes’ doctrine of innate ideas, orinevitable disposition of the human mind to think in certain ways. Since evil in human actions was dueto bad social institutions, an improvement in human society would improve human behavior. This gaveconfidence in the possibility of social progress and turned attention to a sphere where planned andconstructive action was possible – the sphere of government, public policy, and legislation.POLITICAL THEORYThe idea of natural law holds that there is a law in the structure of the world distinguishing right fromwrong. Right is “natural” and not a mere human invention. This right is not determined by anyauthority. Natural law, or the real rightness of a thing, is not determined by any person or people.Right and law exist outside and above all peoples, which makes them universal, the same for all.Knowledge of what is naturally right can only be discovered by reason.On the basis of natural law, Hugo Grotius published a book devote exclusively to international law orthe “law of nations.” He held that sovereign states should work together for the common good, thatthere was a community of nations as of individuals.Thomas HobbesHobbes believed that humans were unable to govern themselves. He held that people in the “state of nature,” that is, without any government, were quarrelsome and turbulent, forever locked in a war of allagainst all. Life in the state of nature was “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.” To obtain order,people came to a kind of agreement or “contract” in which they surrendered their freedom of actioninto the hands of a ruler. This ruler must then have unrestricted or absolute power to maintain order.Questioning the government was intolerably dangerous, because it could open the way to chaos. In his
, he pictured a ruler as the absolute lord, but one who incorporated the mass of individuals
AP European Historyhttp://guidesbyjulie.blogspot.com/ 
The Age of Enlightenment Eighteenth-Century Thought
whose self-interests are best served by cooperation. For Hobbes, absolute power was only anexpedient to promote individual welfare and to realize the natural law.John LockeMedieval philosophy never favored an absolute power, and Locke carried over many ideas of the MiddleAges. He shared the idea with Hobbes that a good government is an expedient of human purpose,neither provided by divine Providence nor inherited by a national tradition. Like Hobbes, he alsobelieved that government was based on a contract, or rational and conscious agreement upon whichauthority was based. However, where Hobbes sided with the king, Locke agreed with Parliament.Since everything people know is a result of interaction of the mind with the outside world, moral ideasare the product of people’s subordination of self-love to reason, which was a free act of self-disciplineso that happiness could be attained. Thus, uncorrupted reason would be the same as the teachings of Christianity. Locke wrote
Two Treatises of Government 
, where he opposed the argument that rulersare absolute in their power. He declared that people in the “state of nature” were reasonable andwilling to get along with one another. They had a moral sense independent of government andpossessed certain rights – the rights to life, liberty, and property.Since individuals in the state of nature cannot completely win general respect for their individualnatural rights, they agree to set up government that will see that the rights of all are attended to.Government is then created by a contract with mutual obligations. People must be reasonable andgovernment cannot break the contract. For example, it cannot threaten the natural rights which it isthe sole purpose of government to protect. If government is corrupt, the governed may rebel and resistgovernment.Locke’s influence was felt throughout Europe, during and after his life. His influence was also great inthe British colonies – the authors of the American Declaration of Independence and of theConstitution of the United States were quite familiar with Locke’s work.THE PHILOSOPHESThe reading public had greatly expanded by the beginning of the Enlightenment. The educated middleclass was much larger than ever before. Newspapers and magazines multiplied, and people wereinterested in reading about the current social issues of the day. “Public opinion” became a kind of tribunal that judged the significance of new books and established or destroyed the reputations of ambitious authorities. Malesherbes wrote that the new public opinion was an independent social force“that all powers respect, that appreciates all talents, that pronounces on all people of merit.”Censorship was an important factor. The theory of censorship was to protect people from harmfulideas. In England, censorship was mild and generally had little effect. Other countries, such as Spainhad powerful censorship but few original writers. France, however, had complicated censorship and alarge reading and writing public. The church, the Parlement of Paris, the royal officials, and theprinters’ guilds all had a hand in censorship. Thus, French writers did not directly address concrete

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