World History
Unit Four: The New World - 1350 to 1815
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Part 20: Revolutions
Part 20.2: The Enlightenment
Applying the scientific method to their physical world, Enlightenment thinkers, or philosophes, reexamined all aspects of life—from government and justice to religion and women’s rights.  They created a movement that influenced the entire Western world.

Path to the Enlightenment

  • Eighteenth-century intellectuals used the ideas of the Scientific Revolution to reexamine all aspects of life
The intellectuals of the Enlightenment were especially influenced by two seventeenth-century Englishmen—Isaac Newton, who discovered the laws that governed the physical world, and John Locke.

John Locke
In his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke argued that every person was born having a tabula rasa, or ‘blank slate’ of a mind.

Reason and knowledge, he said, come to us through experience.

“Our observation, employed either about external sensible objects or about the internal operations of our minds perceived and reflected on by ourselves, is that which supplies our understanding with all the materials of thinking.”

Isaac Newton
Newton believed that the world, and everything in it was like a great machine, operating according to Natural Laws
Through systematic investigation, these laws could be uncovered.

This became the dominant intellectual idea of the time.
Answer the following questions in your spiral notebooks:
What was the argument John Locke was making in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding? According to Locke, how do humans acquire knowledge?

What belief of Newton became the dominant intellectual idea of the time?

Ideas of the Philosophes

  • The philosophes wanted to create a better society.
The intellectuals of the Enlightenment were known as philosophes, the French word for “philosophers.”

The philosophes were philosophers, writers, economists, social reformers.

The philosophes believed that just as science, mathematics, and reason led to our understanding of the Laws of Nature in Newtononian Physics, science could also lead to our understanding of Human Nature, and in that way, design a perfect society.

The Role of Philosophy

Charles-Louis de Secondat was the French Nobleman known as
the Baron de Montesquieu
In his study of governments, The Spirit of the Laws (1948), Montesquieq identified three basic types of governments:
Republics, suitable for small states;
despotism, appropriate for large states;
and monarchies, ideal for moderately-sized states.

Montesquieu describes England's government as having three branches:
the Executive, the Monarch—
the Legislative, Parliament—
and the Judicial, the Courts of Law.
The government of England functioned through a separation of powers.

Montesquieu’s most lasting contribution to political thought was his idea that a government should have a system of checks and balances, a system of political limits and controls, through separation of powers.

His ideas were later used in the United States Constitution.

The philosophe François-Marie Arouet, known simply as Voltaire, was considered to be the greatest figure of the Enlightenment.
In his Treatise on Toleration (1763), he argued against religious intolerance, especially in France, saying “All men are brothers under God.”

Throughout his life, Voltaire championed deism, a religious philosophy based on reason and natural law.

In the Deists’ view, a mechanic (God) had created the universe.
The universe was like a clock.  God, the clock-maker, had created it, set it in motion, and allowed it to run without his interference, according to its own natural laws.

Denis Diderot’s most famous contribution to the Enlightenment was his Encyclopedia, or Classified Dictionary of the Sciences, Arts, and Trades, a 28-volume collection of knowledge he edited.
Published between 1751 and 1772, Diderot hoped it would "change the general way of thinking."
The Encyclopedia was a way to spread Enlightenment Ideas.  Diderot even visited with heads of government, such as in his meeting with Catherine the Great of Russia.
Answer the following questions in your spiral notebooks:
Who were the philosophes?
What was their goal?
How did they think this could be done?

What were the three basic types of governments, as identified by Montesquieu?

What were the three branches of government Montesquieu described England as having?

What was Montesquieu's most lasting contribution to political thought?

What was Voltaire's argument in his 1763 Treatise on Toleration?

What is Deism?

What work is Denis Diderot most known for?
Describe this work.

New Social Sciences

  • The Belief in logic and reason promoted the beginnings of social sciences.
The Physiocrats
The Physiocrats were a group of French philosophes interested in identifying the natural laws that governed economics.

They believed that if individuals were free to pursue their own economic self-interests, all society would benefit.  They believed the state should leave the economy alone.

This doctrine became known as laissez-faire economics.

The translation of laissez-faire means “to let (people) do (what they want).”

Adam Smith on Economics

The best statement concerning laissez-faire was written by Adam Smith.

The Physiocrat and Scottish philosopher Adam Smith is regarded as the founder of the modern social science of economics.

In his book Wealth of Nations (1776), Smith argued there were three basic roles of government:

1. The government should protect society from invasion (the function of the army).
2. The government should defend citizens from injustice (the function of the police).
3. The government should keep up certain public works that private individuals alone could not afford—but which are necessary for social interaction and trade.

Two competing Economic Systems:

Mercantilism vs. Laissez-Faire Economics
Mercantilism Laissez-Faire Economics
A nation's wealth is measured by:
  • The amount of gold & silver in its treasury
A nation's wealth is measured by:
  • It's annual output of goods & services
To increase wealth, government must:
  • encourage exports to bring in gold & silver
  • restrict imports to avoid draining away gold & silver
  • grant monopolies and financial support to local businesses to give them an advantage over foreign competition
To increase wealth, government must:
  • impose no restrictions on trade, allowing it to operate freely
  • provide no support or monopoly advantages for local businesses, so that competition can freely occur

Beccaria on Justice
Social scientists also dealt with the idea of justice, especially in the legal system.

In the eighteenth century, most European courts used punishment to deter crime, since most police forces were too weak and ineffective to capture criminals.

Most punishments were cruel.

However, in his 1764 book On Crimes and Punishments, the philosophe Cesare Beccaria, argued that the punishment should not be brutal, and he argued against capital punishment, the death penalty, because he said it was an ineffective deterrent to crime.
Answer the following questions in your spiral notebooks:
Who were the Physiocrats?

What is the literal (translation) meaning of "laissez-faire?"

What is the doctrine of laissez-faire?

In Wealth of Nations, what did Adam Smith argue were the three basic roles of government?

What was the argument Cesare Beccaria made in On Crimes and Punishments?

What is meant by "capital punishment?"
What was Beccaria's feeling about it, especially in regards to its deterrent effect?

The Spread of Ideas

  • From the upper classes to the middle classes and from salons to pulpits, the ideas of the Enlightenment spread.
The Social Contract
Jean-Jacques Rousseau

In Discourse on the Origins of the Inequality of Mankind, Rousseau argued that, by adopting laws and government in order to preserve their private property, people had made themselves slaves to the government.

In The Social Contract (1762), Rousseau argued that society should be governed by a social contract—through which a society agrees to be governed by the general will of the people.

Rousseau believed in
  the balance of heart and mind,
  the rule of the general will, and
  education to foster natural instincts.

Rousseau did not believe in rule by laws and government.

Women's Rights
By the eighteenth century, female thinkers began to express their ideas concerning the improvement of the lives of women.

Mary Wollstonecraft, English writer
advanced the strongest statement for the rights of women.
A Vindication of the Rights of Women argued women should have equal rights in education, economics, and political life.

The Growth of Reading
Books had previously been directed at small groups of educated elite.

After 1780, books were aimed at the new reading public of the middle classes, which included women and urban artisans.

The Salon
The salon was an elegant drawing room where intellectuals drank coffee and discussed Enlightenment ideas.

Salons helped spread the ideas of the Enlightenment and gave some women new power.

Religion in the Enlightenment

John Wesley
The founder of Methodism

Methodism was a religious movement and an evangelical form of Christianity.  They believed in spreading the word of the Salvation by Jesus Christ through the Grace of God.

Methodists stressed the importance of hard work and spiritual contentment instead of political equality.
Answer the following questions in your spiral notebooks:
What was the argument Rousseau made in his Discourse On the Origins of the Inequality of Mankind?

What was the solution for this, as Rousseau argued in The Social Contract?

By the 1780's, who were the new reading public?

What were salons?
Did the salon help elevate the role of women?

Who was John Wesley?
What was a doctrine he taught?

World History
Unit Four: The New World
Part 20: Revolutions
Part 20.2: The Enlightenment
Part 20.3: The Enlightenment Spreads
Part 20.4: The American Revolution
Standards, Objectives, and Vocabulary
Part 20: Revolutions
Part 20.2: The Enlightenment
Part 20.3: The Enlightenment Spreads
Part 20.4: The American Revolution
World History
Unit One: The Prehistoric World
Unit Two: The Ancient World
Unit Three: The Medieval World
Unit Four: The New World
Unit Five: The imperial World
Unit Six: The World at War
Cool History Videos
Go Back
Part 20.2:
The Enlightenment
Please Continue...
Part 20.1:
The Scientific Revolution
Once you cover the basics, here are some videos that will deepen your understanding.
On YouTube
Goals & Objectives
of the Crash Course videos:
By the end of the course, you will be able to:

*Identify and explain historical developments and processes
*Analyze the context of historical events, developments, and processes and explain how they are situated within a broader historical context
*Explain the importance of point of view, historical situation, and audience of a source
*Analyze patterns and connections among historical developments and processes, both laterally and chronologically through history
*Be a more informed citizen of the world 

Crash Course World History # Crash Course World History #
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