Analysis Of The Age Of Enlightenment

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The Age of Enlightenment was a 17th and 18th century intellectual movement that changed peoples’ ideas concerning God, reason, nature, and humanity. This period of great change was heavily influenced by several 17th century philosophers – René Descartes, John Locke, Isaac Newton, Immanuel Kant, Voltaire, Jean Jacques Rousseau and Adam Smith– who stressed the importance of thinking for oneself, disregarding socially accepted ideologies, especially those of the church, and the need for testing observation through reason. In Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment?, Immanuel Kant challenges people: “Dare to know! Have the courage to use your own intelligence!” That statement embodied the way most people would begin to think, especially …show more content…
Philosophes like Locke, Voltaire, Montesquieu, and Adam Smith used reason to create effective systems of government and beneficial economic policies, some of which were implemented, while many remained theoretical. John Locke, an Englishman provided much of the intellectual inspiration for the Enlightenment. In his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), Locke argued every person is born with a tabula rasa, a blank mind. Every other historical politician used his ideology as a basis for their own. Montesquieu, for example, criticized the Church and French monarchy in his first work the Persian Letters. Through his analysis of the French government, he wrote his masterpiece, The Spirit of the Laws. This treatise applied the scientific method to the social world and politics to determine the laws of the nature that govern relationships between human beings. Moreover, he distinguished the three basic forms of government, and which were beneficial to what kind of population. However, the most important idea from Montesquieu would have to be separation of powers; government should be split into different branches, and no one should have control over …show more content…
In his thesis, The Wealth of Nation, Smith laid three fundamental principles of economics: (1) mercantilist used of tariffs is atrocious; (2) the source of a nation’s wealth was not gold and silver, but its labor force; (3) finally, and maybe most importantly, the government shouldn’t interfere with the economy. Government is only necessary to protect from invasion, defend from injustice and oppression, and maintain infrastructure. The government should first establish the economy by stabilizing the country, and then allowing it to regulate itself through the free

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