sábado, 10 de noviembre de 2012



The Enlightenment (The Age of Reason) was a period in European history, in the 18th century, when European philosophers began to examine the world through reason, or human intellect, rather than religious faith. The main Enlightened philosophers were Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau and Diderot. Their ideas touched many aspects of life including politics, economics, science and religion.
BACKGROUND: the scientific revolution
The Enlightened philosophers were inspired by 17th century thinkers such as John Locke, Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes that were very important to the scientific revolution. The last two thinkers, Bacon and Descartes, did a lot to help develop the scientific method. The scientific method is a way of collecting and testing a hypothesis (an idea that hasn’t been proved yet). The hypothesis is tested in an experiment or by using data. The data is then analysed and you reach a conclusion. This conclusion either proves the hypothesis is right or that it is wrong. (You do this every time you do a lab experiment here at school!).
People then began to ask themselves this question: ‘If we can understand the universe better by using the scientific method and reason, then maybe we can use method and reason to understand other things in life, too.’ This was what John Locke did. He believed that people could learn from their experiences and become better than they were before. He believed that people could govern themselves. Locke said that he did not like the idea of an absolute monarch. He said that ordinary people should have more power. Locke said that everybody is born free and has three natural rights: an innate set of rights and freedoms given by God (nature) that cannot be taken away or restricted by government. These three natural rights were the right to life, liberty (freedom) and property (to own things, like land). Locke said that the government should protect these rights. If a government did not do this, the people should overthrow (throw out) this government.
Locke’s ideas had a big effect on how we think about politics and governments today. His idea that the people should choose the government is what we now call democracy.
In the 18th century, Enlightened philosophers began to use reason to study government, religion, economics and education. In this way, the scientific revolution led on to the Enlightenment.
The Enlightenment was a term invented to be opposed to the Middle Ages (also known as the “Dark Ages”). Literally, enlightenment means to illuminate or to bring lightness into darkness. European society felt that it had emerged from centuries of ignorance, superstition, darkness, blind obedience, tyranny and faith into a world of reason, knowledge, truth and freedom.
The Enlightenment placed a heavy emphasis on science, logic and reason in order to understand the natural and human world and how to make government and society more fair, free, equitable and humane.
The Effects of The Enlightenment
The Enlightenment philosophers used reason to critizice some aspects of the Ancien Régime that they consider unreasonable (not fair): they were against the absolute power of the kings and the great power of the Church. Although they were not revolutionaries, their ideas made ordinary people think and this led on to the American and French revolutions at the end of the 18th century.
The Enlightened thinking also had three other important long-term effects. They were:
  1. A belief in progress: they thought that the progress was a good thing to solve social problems like slavery, better education and more social equality. 
  2. A more secular (non-religious) way of looking at the world. People began to question their religion and to question what the church told them.
  3. The importance of the individual. People began to turn away from the church and the kings and to look more towards themselves to make their decisions. The philosophers made people start to use their own reason to decide what is right and what is wrong. They also said that the individual was important in society. They said that governments were made by individuals and that the government should look after them.
 The Enlightenment (part I) 

The Enlightenment (part II)



The Enlightenment also _________ as the age of reason is the name given to an important ________ in the history of western _______________ that followed the Renaissance.

The Enlightenment occurred roughly from the mid _________ hundreds up through the end of the ___________ hundreds and was a time when the human ability to __________ was glorifyed.

The word enlightenment means “a time of illumination”. The era was given this _______ because it was a time when an influential group of scholars, ________, artists and ____________ actively sought to use the clear _______ of reason that is rational thought to rid the world of _____________ and ignorance.

As a result of their efforts tremendous improvements in the understanding of _____________ and science occurred. And bold new _______ regarding basic _________ ______ and democracy were developed that served as major inspirations to _______________ in North America and _________.


Other __________ concentrated on the mind, _______ subjects and other more abstract concepts as well.
One of the most important philosophers to focus on political subjects was an _____________ named John Locke who lived from sixteen thirty two to seventeen four.
Locked __________ that the power of a _____________ to rule must come from the consent of the governed. In other words, that people should be able to choose who _________ them.
Locke too confided in England Glorious Revolution of sixteen eighty eight in which the ______ was forced to relinquish a large amount of his ________ to parliamentary _______________.
He promoted the idea that every _______ _______ was born with three basic _______ _______: those of life, political equality or liberty, and the ownership of property.
Lock also promoted freedom of the press, educational reform and religious tolerance and called for the ____________ of governments that failed to protect basic _______ _______.
In _______ several great ______________ philosophers wrote passionately about human rights and ____________ as well. French philosopher Voltaire for example championed the idea of freedom of speech with his _________ statement “I disapprove of what you ____ but will defend to the death you are _______ to say it”.
While another ___________ Montesquieu called for (=demanded) a complete separation of powers to maintain balance in government which was to be accomplished by creating ________ legislative, executive and judicial branches of government.
Nearly all philosophers of the _____________ era wanted to ____ a strict separation of church and state as well for they realized that mixing __________ and _______ was almost always a recipe for disaster.
The enlightenment philosophers themselves were usually deists, people without traditional __________ beliefs who believed in what they called Nature's God that is in an all-_________ spiritual force that had created the __________ and everything in it but then left it ________.
The ideas of the enlightnement philosophers were deeply admired by the _________ of both the _____________ and French _____________.
In fact Thomas Jefferson fell back on them ______ and ______ again when he was composing the Declaration of Independence. As did the framers of the United States constitution when they worked out a plan of ____________ for the new American _______________.


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