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Social Studies 885 SAS

Curriculum Pathways

Enlightenment Philosophers: Student Answers


NAME: Christine xxi CLASS: World History G Block DATE: 8/17/2014
Note to Instructor:
Focus Question
Which Enlightenment philosopher expressed the most democratic ideas?
Background Movies
John Locke: -believed that the governement should act on behalf of people's rights and liberty
-believed that ruler's power depended on people
-"power lies on the hands of the people"
Voltaire: -French famous philosophe
-wrote plays, novels etc on slaves, political unjust, human rights violation
-belived deeply in freedom of speech
-prisoned and exiled
Charles de Montesquieu: -Spirit of Lwas: compared various types of governments
-found a liking towards governments which had a constitution and power is divided
between the king and the parliament
Jean-Jacques Rousseau: -considered himself as an outcast due to his humble beginnings
-people should belive in their intuitions and depend on own thinkings
Natural laws: This was important as this encouraged people to believe in their rights regarding the
power of the government. This supported the fight for rights and liberty against hostile
rulers throughout Europe.
Freedom of speech: This was important as well as this also motivated individualism and freedom of speech
and thinking. People like Voltaire stood up against rules and regulations based on
their own ideas and this affectecd others' thinking as well.
Checks and balances: This was a new system and idea for countries under completely monarchy or religious
authority. This influenced the constitution of various countries.
Noble savage: Encouraged reason and rational thinking to people when "brainwashed" by
government. This made people think not only of themselves but one step farther,
thinking of the greater good.
What have you learned in the
Background Movies that will help you
answer the question?
Each of the philosophers introduced new systems and new ways of thinking. All
opposed against the conception of people back then and strongly fought against the
rules and regulations of the government. I think that John Jocke, Charles de
Montesquieu and Jean-Jacques were those who focused on democratic ideas more,
as they expressed ideas regarding power dependency on citizens, division of power
between branches, and thinking for the greater good and everyone's ability to vote. I
personally think Jean-Jacques expressed the most, however, although the line cannot
be definetly drawn yet.
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Social Studies 885 SAS

Curriculum Pathways

Document Analyzer
Expressed strong democratic ideas
Document: John Locke, (1690) Two Treatises of Government
Selected passage must consider what State all Men are naturally in, and that is, a State of perfect Freedom to
order their Actions, and dispose of their Possessions, and Persons as they think fit, within
the bounds of the Law of Nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the Will of any
other Man.
Analysis I think this passage relates to the question as it mentions about the right of all individuals,
regardless of their wealth, status or appearance, has rights and freedom
Document: Voltaire, , "Democracy" (1764) The Philosophical Dictionary
Selected passage Democracy seems suitable only to a very little country, and further it must be happily
situated. Small though it be, it will make many mistakes, because it will be composed of men.
Analysis This seems to say that Voltaire accepted mistakes, yet there is no wrong doings in making
mistakes. If it was a monarch rule, men would be punished if he/she did something wrong.
Document: Baron de Montesquieu, (1748) The Spirit of Laws
Selected passage In the state of nature, indeed, all men are born equal, but they cannot continue in this
equality. Society makes them lose it, and they recover it only by the protection of the laws.
Analysis Strong ideas towards democracy as well, as this say that the only protection every human
has is by rights and laws regarding freedom and rights.
Did not express strong democratic ideas
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