Enlightened Philosophers (John Locke, Baron de Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Jean Jacques Rousseau)

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John Locke, Baron de Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Jean Jacques Rousseau were all enlightenment philosophers. Each of these men had a particular view of government, society, and its citizens and they were all passionate about their works. Locke (1632- 1704) was an English philosopher, his ideas had a great impact on the development of political philosophy and he is widely regarded as one of the most influential enlightenment thinkers. Montesquieu (1689- 1755) believed that all things were made up of laws that never changed. His most famous work, The Spirit of Laws, outlined his ideas on how government would work best. Voltaire (1694- 1778) was a poet, an essayist, playwright, historian, and above all, a critic of society. He was a great crusader for liberty and was twice imprisoned for his writings. Rousseau (1712-1778) generally recycled older enlightenment ideas but is well known for his passionate rhetoric, which enflamed a generation and beyond. John Locke’s view of government was that it was good to have one. The people may put their trust in the government so that in turn, the government may trust the people and protect their rights. “The reason why men choose and give power to lawmakers is that there may be made, and rules set, as guards and fences… The people are right in trying to put the laws in the hands of the government which will protect their rights. (Excerpt from Locke's Two Treatises with Government) ”. Within the government, there were societies. Lock felt that the people needed/ wanted a government to protect their rights. They don’t, however, want to be victims of power abuse by the government. “The reason why men enter into society is to preserve their property. (Two Treatises with Government) ”. Every society is made up of citizens; he believed that People (lawmakers) will inevitably abuse their power at some point. When this happens, people should have the right to break free from the government. “When lawmakers abuse absolute power and...
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