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The Enlightenment

“I Think Therefore I Am”
~Rene Descartes

The Enlightenment
• Enlightenment – a
period when
breakthroughs in
science contributed to
new philosophies in
different areas of life.
• It started in Paris,
France

The Enlightenment
• The Enlightenment
was lead by
philosophes who
believed they could
improve society.

Enlightenment
• This resulted in dramatic
progress in math, science,
astronomy, politics,
economics & philosophy.
• Breakthroughs in various
areas of study contributed
to dramatic social
awareness and contributed
to changes in government

Enlightenment
• Inspired the ideas behind the American and
French Revolution
• Inspired the common people (newspapers)
• Concepts of freedom of speech/individual
rights/government for the people.
• It increased opportunity for education and
encouraged scientific experimentation

Find space on your paper and
draw the following table…
Philosophe
Locke
Rousseau
Montesquieu
Hobbes
Wollstonecraft

Idea(s)

Explanation of Idea

Modern Day Use

Locke
Idea
1. Natural rights
2. Right to rebel
Explanation of Idea
1. People had guaranteed freedoms
2. People can overthrow the government for
violations of their rights

Locke (continued)
Modern Day Use
1. The Bill of Rights (freedoms)
2. Right to impeach local and national
leaders

Rousseau
Ideas
1. Direct democracy
2. Social contract (will of the people)
3. People are naturally good, government makes
them corrupt
Explanation of Ideas
1. People can be trusted to rule themselves
2. People determine the outcome of their
government

Rousseau (continued)
Modern Day Use
1. Local elections
2. Right to protest and elect leaders

Montesquieu
Ideas
1. Three branches of government (separation of
powers)
2. Religious toleration
Explanation of Ideas
1. Power should be spread out and
not concentrated in one area
2. People can worship freely

Montesquieu (continued)
Modern Day Use
1. Executive, judicial and legislative
branches of government in the U.S.
2. No restrictions on religion

Hobbes
Idea
1. Strong central government
Explanation of Idea
1. A strong government is needed to keep
order

Hobbes (continued)
Modern Day Use
1. Government has power to make laws for
the people

Wollstonecraft
Ideas
1. Women’s rights
2. Democracy
Explanation of Ideas
1. Women can get an education, vote and
work
2. People can elect their own government

Wollstonecraft (continued)
Modern Day Use
1. Women have more opportunities in
society today