The Enlightenment

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Imagine living in a world where others are questioning everything around you. Imagine someone telling you that the facts about the government and social culture around you that you believed were facts were just ideas that were actually questionable. Picture living during a time where political and cultural lives were not stable or constant because as different people analyzed their world, new ideas were being developed and people were believing it. In this time, curiosity about the world spread, which led to further innovation. Even the Church initially encouraged such investigations, out of the belief that studying the world was a form of piety and constituted an admiration of God’s work. The enlightenment took a major role in the development and construction of modern Europe. During the enlightenment, many inventions were created, new philosophical ideas were being discussed in massive forums by massive crowds, and now by the average citizen instead of scholars and philosophers. Many revolutions took place, politically, geographically, religiously, and demographically shifting the face of Europe. Literature and art became important and sources of power for the wealthy. Art took new form, being viewed with different perceptions and perspectives. Writers started to speak their mind, even if it meant going against their government's or even church's ideas. The enlightenment shaped the Europe we know today in four distinct and important ways. The Enlightenment encouraged several revolutions and helped governments. It influenced the American Revolution and then the French revolutions. The Enlightenment was an 18th century European movement in which thinkers attempted to apply the principals of reason and scientific method to all aspects of society. It influenced the Declaration of Independence and the Declaration of the rights of man and of the Citizen. These political, economic, and social changes from the Enlightenment influenced the documents that shaped our government and economy and ideas that shaped our culture.

Many changes occurred in the political aspect of Europe. Many monarchies were overthrown just to be replaced with a separate monarchy. Philosophers were born who dared to oppose the government and its ideas. Many people preached individualism and the importance of self-betterment. Others preached freedom and equality among all...men at least. Cesare Beccaria was a pioneer in literature and the opposition of the government's ideas. Her book An Essay on Crimes and Punishments was the foundation of the abolishment of heinous punishments and preaching having the punishment fit the crime. Montesquieu in The Spirit Of The Laws said, “There would be an end of everything, we’re the same man or the same body, whether of the nobles or often people, to exercise these three powers: that of enacting laws, that of executing the public resolutions and of trying the causes of individuals.” He believed that there should be a balance in the branches of government in order to maintain peace. John Locke, another great thinker of the era, advocated the three natural rights of man. These influenced many of the Enlightenment’s changes and revolution. These rights are the basis that Thomas Jefferson made for our Declaration of Independence. Locke made the three natural rights that state that everyone is able to have life, Liberty and the right to own property. Locke also stated that if the Government did not protect these rights, that the citizens had the right to overthrow it or remove it from being in office. These three rights changed France. He believed that human nature is to be reasonable. Through this idea he was able to develop other beliefs about his observations of the government in which he passed on to other people. In Two Treaties on Government, John Locke said, “Though the earth and all inferior creatures to be common to all men, yet every man has a ‘property’ in his own...
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