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Comparing John Locke and Baron de Montesquieu

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Comparing John Locke and Baron de Montesquieu

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  • October 22, 2006
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The Enlightenment was a time of change in Europe. There were many new ideas, and various influential thinkers that inspired new invention and also inspired revolutions. All of these thinkers had different views on people and government and different views of people and how they act. Many of these authoritative individuals thoughts still influence us even today. Many of their ideas are used in government and also as guidelines for people to live their lives by.

John Locke and Baron de Montesquieu both helped to build our constitution and we borrowed some of their ideas for how we live our lives in America. John Locke had the idea that people were born with the three natural rights: life, liberty, and property. We as an early country borrowed that idea but changed it slightly. We chose to use: people have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Baron de Montesquieu said that the government's power comes from the people. That is what the creators of the constitution tried to model our government after. They tried to give a lot of the power to the people; many countries at that time and some now are still in monarchies and dictatorships where the people have no say in the government. The Baron also had the idea to divide power in the government amongst three branches. The purpose of the three branches was to keep the other branches from getting too powerful.

They also had some different views. John Locke believed that people could learn from their mistakes and improve themselves. He thought that people had a natural ability to govern their own affairs and that they didn't need a government to come and check on everything that a person did. He favored the idea of self-governing, people can keep themselves in line. He publicly criticized monarchies. He believed that the purpose of a government was to protect the people and if a government failed to do that then the people had the right to overthrow it. He helped inspire many revolutions...