French Revolution Human Nature

Topics: French Revolution, United States Declaration of Independence, Age of Enlightenment Pages: 2 (806 words) Published: May 12, 2010
What is human nature? Are humans self-interested and savage or are we socially conscious and kind? The people of the French Revolution give us an answer to these questions. The French Revolution was a time of rebellion and revolution and provided an immense change to the country of France. The revolt was started by drought, rising prices, and increasing frustration with the government by the citizens of France. The rebelliousness followed the previous age of Enlightenment. Enlightenment philosophers such as John Locke and Thomas Hobbes searched and discovered new ideas about the nature of people and the role of government. Locke believed that every man was born with natural rights and will behave well as long as they have these. Hobbes on the contrary believed that we are all savage creatures who use violence to get our own way. Through events such as The Declaration of the Rights of Man and The Tennis Court Oath, John Locke’s understanding of human nature can be judged as more accurate than that of Thomas Hobbes. The actions that the French people took during the Tennis Court Oath mirror Locke’s beliefs about humanity. In the Tennis Court Oath, the Third Estate challenged the awful monarchy of King Louis XVI by a pledge that they would not leave the tennis courts of Versailles until a new constitution that would meet the peoples needs was written. The Oath states, “that all members of this assembly immediately take a solemn oath never to separate, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the realm is established and fixed upon solid foundations” (Tennis Court Oath). This event is completely related to Locke’s beliefs that every man should have the right to revolt to acquire natural rights and freedoms. In his Second Treatise on Government, John Locke wrote, “upon the forfeiture of their rulers…the people have a right to act as supreme, and continue the legislative in themselves…as they think good” (Locke). Locke supported...

Cited: "Declaration of the Rights of Man - 1789 ." The Avalon Project. Yale Law School, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2010 .
"The Tennis Court Oath." Revolution. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2010 .
Locke, John. “The Second Treatise of Government.” 1689. The Potowmack Institute .
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