This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Enlightenment Thinkers Essay

1429 words - 6 pages

Hundreds of years ago great American minds were breaking barriers, starting revolution and addressing equality, something that had never been done in an era filled with ruthless monarchs. They wrote some of the foundations for the modern day western world over 200 years ago and yet their works are still relevant today. They wrote the Charters of Freedom, otherwise known as the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and The Bill of Rights. But, as people stroll through museums to see these works, little do they know that ideas from the Age of Enlightenment inspired them. These same people all see the names of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and many others and yet they have no idea ...view middle of the document...

” (Declaration of Independence, 1776) Also in that infamous line from the Declaration of Independence is a mention of government deriving their powers from the governed, another fundamental belief of John Locke. He believed that the people should be the sovereign, claiming that the legitimacy of a government is dependent upon it, which was the fundamental idea behind the Declaration of Independence, they had no representation and thus the power was not derived from the people that the Monarch governed. And, perhaps the greatest ideal of American society is equality, in the declaration of independence the founders wrote “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” (Declaration of Independence, 1776) This ideal was also rooted in John Locke’s theories, where he stated “It is evident that all human beings – as creatures belonging to the same species and rank and born indiscriminately with all the same natural advantages and faculties – are equal amongst themselves. They have no relationship of subordination or subjection unless God (the lord and master of them all) had clearly set one person above another and conferred on him an undoubted right to dominion and sovereignty." (Second Treatise of Government, Locke, 1690) John Locke was one of many enlightenment thinkers who helped shape the foundation of our government.
While Baron de Montesquieu might not have been the primary source for the Declaration of Independence he is certainly much more prevalent when discussing the structure of government in the United States and the Constitution. In his work “Spirit of the Laws” he very clearly writes about separation of powers and a federalist government. The system of checks and balances is implemented to keep one branch of government from being supreme, the system allows for one branch to check the power of another and keep the political system balanced. Montesquieu cites the need for checks and balances in “Spirit of the Laws” when he wrote “Democratic and aristocratic states are not in their own nature free. Political liberty is to be found only in moderate governments; and even in these it is not always found. It is there only when there is no abuse of power. But constant experience shows us that every man invested with power is apt to abuse it, and to carry his authority as far as it will go. Is it not strange, though true, to say that virtue itself has need of limits? To prevent this abuse, it is necessary from the very nature of things that power should be a check to power.” (Spirit of Laws, Montesquieu, 1748) Montesquieu even writes about Judicial, Legislative and Executive branches of power in his “Spirit of the Laws” which is clearly influential to United States government seeing as the first three articles of the constitution outline the powers and limitations of the afore mentioned branches.
Baron de Montesquieu had a very clear influence on the constitution when it came to checks and balances, but he was also...

Other Papers Like Enlightenment Thinkers

Untitled Essay

757 words - 4 pages Can't find it here? Try Enlightenment Attitudes Towards Religion By: Lisa Enlightenment Attitudes Towards Religion Scientific and philosophical innovations during the 18th century brought about a new breed of thinkers. Their driving forces of rational and reason shifted the religious temperament of the elite from "enthusiasts" to intellectuals. "They argued that there was no divine standard of morality, no afterlife to divert

Inspirations for the French Revolution Essay

1035 words - 5 pages those in Europe fighting for their rights. By declaring independence, America proved that “old regimes” can be overthrown. Those who fought in America and returned to France began to tell stories of a life where men are equal and freedom is a reality. With the enactment of the United States Constitution in 1788, ideas of the Enlightenment were solidified and validated (Impact of Revolution, n.d.). Enlightenment thinkers gained great momentum

Enlightenment Of The 17th And 18th Centuries

1285 words - 6 pages The scientific revolution had a great impact on the Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries. The greatest contribution given the Enlightenment by the scientific revolution was the notion to question the Christian dogma by means of logic, which the philosophes would take further to satirize/question their own governments in many instances as well. This went beyond the speculations some may have had in private amongst friends, to a level that

Nation Building

601 words - 3 pages over time has served to generate and erode commands of nations. Throughout this work, Anderson points to the movement of Enlightenment in Europe as a great catalyst to the movement of the nation. Language was the tool of Enlightenment thinkers to reach the masses through the employment of the printed word, which was made widely available during this time. Common vernacular in printed and everyday affairs not only flourished, but analysis of

Classical Criminology and Imprisonment

1464 words - 6 pages pain than the pleasure gained from the offence and the offender being treated in a human way without physical punishment, rather that of taking responsibility for their actions. The classical school of criminology and the classical thinkers, Beccaria and Bentham have been major influences in not only modern corrections but also from their time in the Enlightenment period. Their contributions to the debate about punishment have been examined to

An Essay on Liberalism and Conservatism

1298 words - 6 pages powerful members of society. Contemporary liberals believe that powerful members of society use their property against the financially disadvantaged so they believe property, or material wealth should shared. Consequentially, contemporary liberals believe that the government is a friend, not an enemy of the individual and can be used to maximize freedom rather than oppress it (Baradat, 2009). Numerous thinkers have impacted Liberal thought

Context of Frankenstein and Blade Runner

1170 words - 5 pages throwing off of old traditions and customs of the wealthy classes, as the balance of economic power shifted toward the middle class with the rise of industrialism. As textile factories and iron mills increased production with advanced machinery and technology, the working classes grew restive and increasingly alarmed by jobs that seemed insecure because a worker could be replaced by machines. Most of England's literary thinkers welcomed revolution

The American And French Revolution

1390 words - 6 pages not care about the amount of money that was spent frivolously. Lastly, Enlightenment thinkers influenced the ideas of the people to overthrow the king. Writers like Locke, Rousseau, and Voltaire urged people to question what was always accepted as truth, to question old ideas, and urged people to become active in their government. Consequently, the common people of France wanted a place in their government. Commoners were tired of being dirt

Cause and Effect of the French Revolution

1438 words - 6 pages explanation. In fact, it includes two main points – Enlightenment and American war for Independence. The effect of the first is much more significant for the French Revolution. The Enlightenment era is known as the kind of intellectual movement based on rationalism and free thinking. Actually, it has generated the foundation of civil society and democracy which we appreciate today. In addition, this movement is the primary source of political freedom

John Locke

633 words - 3 pages the government should split up into three branches; legislative, executive and the judicial. He stated that the revolution was not only a right but often an obligation and advocated a system of checks and balances in the government from these three branches. John Locke was one of the most influential English philosophers of the Enlightenment Period. His views on liberty, the social contract, rights of the individual, and liberalism

American Literature Pg. 94- 109 notes

1503 words - 7 pages ? • European kings and queens believed they had a God-given right to rule for centuries • But in the Age of Enlightenment this was questioned along with many other old assumptions • Who really has the right to rule? An Emerging Nation • For some, early America was an experiment in hope • Explorers - adventure Settlers - religious freedom Colonists - building communities revolutionaries - a new government • Writers

Related Essays

The Enlightenment 5 Essay

517 words - 3 pages was that armed with the proper method of discovering human existence, thinkers believed in the creation of better societies and people. These concepts can be considered extensions of Kant's definition because they all advocate reason as the primary source and basis of authority. Enlightenment concepts differed from medieval and renaissance thinkers in many ways. During the Medieval Age, Christianity played a major role in every day life

Who Are The Enlightened Essay

723 words - 3 pages Immanuel Kant during what is known as the enlightened period asked the world, who are the enlightened? Better still, What is true enlightenment? Since Kant states that true enlightenment is ones courage to use your own reasoning without direction from another, the answer is simple; we who chose to be self-thinkers are already enlightened(Kant, 263). Kant explains that the issue of Enlightenment is not if you have the means to reason for

The Old Regime Essay

1301 words - 6 pages described in his treatise Principia. Newton described the universe as a machine and nature as governed by rational and consistent laws. Isaac Newton and Galileo Galilei both used observation and experiments to draw their conclusions. John Locke also had great influence during the Enlightenment, not only was he the founder of the movement, but he had a great amount of influence on Enlightenment-era thinkers including Thomas Jefferson. These ideas

Enlightenment Dbq Essay

651 words - 3 pages , geography and rhetoric which taught people to be logical and reasoned arguments (Doc. D). Enlightenment thinkers believed that society would be improved if women received the same education as men. Women who were free to receive education to obtain the same skills and comprehension as men would provide to society just as well as men. Although philosophes like John Locke and Adam Smith believed that the people should be the government and make all