Rousseau's Criticism Of The Scientific Revolution

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The scientific revolution and the Enlightenment enabled the criticism of existing problems in France and Colonial America and thus inspired and materialized revolutions in both countries; after these great revolutions, Napoleon Bonaparte appeared as the logical result of Rousseau’s totalitarian thought. Many problems afflicted Colonial America and France, including taxation, political and social tensions, the tyranny of the monarch, and the power of the church. The scientific revolution and the Enlightenment, and all of the great thinkers and philosophes born unto them, allowed for and facilitated these criticisms of the existing order and present evils through the popularization of free thought and rational criticism. These criticisms eventually …show more content…
As for taxes, the new economic theory of capitalism, delineated revolution by Adam Smith in his “Wealth of Nations,” arguing for free trade, found stark contrast in the minds of the colonists with the taxes and harsh restrictions created by Britain. In France, taxes also became the figure of criticism, by the bourgeoisie and the peasants/labourers. But these taxes were merely the figurehead of criticism; the true and most important criticisms were towards the tyranny of the Monarchs George III and Louis XVI and the arbitrary power of the crown. The ideas of the Philosophes, particularly those of Montesquieu, Voltaire, Locke, and Rousseau, laid the foundation for these criticisms. Montesquieu created the idea of checks and balance intended to remedy the concentration and abuse of power in the current system; his ideas became heavily implemented into the United States constitution and served to fuel the revolution. Voltaire criticized the Catholic Church in France and advocated for the freedom of religion and speech that both became the cornerstones for both revolutions; his ideas on the separation of church and state can be identified in founding documents, such as the American Constitution, of both countries. While not necessarily a son of the Enlightenment, John Locke established many ideas essential to …show more content…
Napoleon embodies Rousseau’s idea of general will totalitarianism express in The Social Contract and Voltaire’s idea of enlightened absolutism. The quotes from The Social Contract “If there were a nation of Gods, it would govern itself democratically. A government so perfect is not suited to men.” and “If force compels obedience, there is no need to invoke a duty to obey, and if force ceases to compel obedience, there is no longer any obligation.” exemplify Rousseau’s views on totalitarianism. Robespierre begins to implement his ideas of general will absolutism during the radical phase of the revolution but it is Napoleon who truly becomes the ideal embodiment as a result of Rousseau’s totalitarian thoughts. He makes peace and gains control over the church, sets up a national bank, and most importantly, expands and solidifies France. Napoleon creates an incredible French nationalism and becomes the leader of the people and the popular dictator that Rousseau advocated. As we have already seen, the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment allowed for existing evils, such as monarchical tyranny and unjust taxes, to be criticized through the lens of new ideas and rationalism and thus lead to revolutions in both Colonial America and France. Napoleon then became the embodiment and the most logical result of the totalitarian ideas of Rousseau and Voltaire by

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