How Did The Enlightenment Lead To The French Revolution – American and French revolutionary republican politics were a long time coming. Here are 5 enlightened philosophers who paved the way.

April 9, 2022 • By Alexander Standzofsky, BA in History and Political Theory with Eastern and Christian Ideology

How Did The Enlightenment Lead To The French Revolution

How Did The Enlightenment Lead To The French Revolution

The central tenets of the Age of Revolution were a wave of liberalism among the then politically fashionable autocracies. Individual freedom from oppressive and aggressive government and tolerance of the socio-political other are key pillars in this era of human political history. While this ideology infiltrated European monarchies before the Age of Revolution, which Enlightenment philosophers contributed to the later age of revolution?

France And The American Revolution

Despite writing a century before the Revolutionary period, John Locke was the most influential thinker on rational liberal theory and classical republicanism. Although Locke would never live to see the fruits of his philosophical labors, Thomas Jefferson kept his liberal principles firmly in mind when he helped pen the American Declaration of Independence in 1776.

John Locke was the first Enlightenment philosopher to suggest that the people of a state should have the right to change or elect their leaders. While ancient thinkers, namely Aristotle, had largely discouraged people from the idea of ​​democracy, Locke played an important role in entering the political stage in the late eighteenth century.

Locke was an important component of his advocacy of classical liberalism. The central pillars of liberalism in its classical sense were those fleeing religious persecution and tyrannical, oppressive monarchies. The principles, then, became true liberty and the idea that no individual or governing body had the right to interfere in the affairs of the individual: limited government, and an emphasis on the liberty of one over many.

Adam Smith was a Scottish economist and thinker – although not a political theorist, Smith contributed to liberal thought through the language of economics and finance.

French Revolution Case Study

Still, his ideas can be translated politically. The central idea of ​​economic liberalism and free markets goes hand in hand with Lockean ideals, and later with Social Darwinism as well. It was from here that the young states of the revolutionary era got their ideas of capitalism and financial laissez-faire.

Like classical Lockean liberalism, Adam Smith upheld one’s natural self-interest and personal freedom over very sparse competition in the marketplace. It probably gives a healthy economy.

One of the most famous economic critiques proposed by Adam Smith was his example of the pin factory. In the olden days, a craftsman lovingly poured 100 percent of his labor into making a pin. The craftsman welded the metal, shaped the tiny pins, made each one to a point and dipped each one in wax at the other end.

How Did The Enlightenment Lead To The French Revolution

The craftsman’s work was purely connected with his own labor, adding a sentimental aspect to his own business and profit. In the wake of the Industrial Revolution and mass production, the division of labor polluted the process. More workers were added to the equation, laboring like automatons. A worker welds metal; Another makes points; Another dips the plastic. As a result, Adam Smith criticized the incoming mass means of production while advocating free markets.

Beethoven’s Influence: Ties To The French Revolution

Montesquieu, born Charles-Louis de Secondot, Baron de la Brede et de Montesquieu, was a French political philosopher and today largely considered the father of the study of anthropology and one of the most famous Enlightenment philosophers.

Montesquieu built on a political ideology founded by the ancient Greek thinker Aristotle. In particular, French thinkers were fascinated by Aristotelian classification; The Greek mind was meant to group ideas, movements, and even animals that formed in common.

Most of Montesquieu’s life was spent under the two longest-serving monarchs in French history: Louis XIV (r. 1643–1715) and his grandson Louis XV (r. 1715–1774). France was at the height of its imperial power under these two kings.

Within the political operation of royal administration, Montesquieu observed and noted the division of power. That is, his observation states that political power is divided between the sovereign and the administration. Administration was divided into legislative, executive, and judicial departments—the same three branches found in modern governmental organization.

Biography Of Voltaire, French Enlightenment Writer

The government operated along these lines as a very complex web. No one part of the government can exercise more power or influence than the other to maintain balance. From this keen observation young republican governments were formed in the revolutionary era.

Rousseau wrote primarily and extensively on the concept of human nature. Thinkers before his time, such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, projected criticism onto the philosophical canvas that became the State of Nature.

The basis of the state of nature is the argument for the need for government in society. A generation of thinkers before Rousseau argued that the vacuum left by the absence of government would create anarchy and anarchy. Their disagreement was mainly over the scope and size of government it deemed necessary.

How Did The Enlightenment Lead To The French Revolution

Rousseau was opposed to this idea. He took an optimistic view of human nature, claiming that our species is inherently trusting and empathetic. While we have a biological instinct to maintain our own survival and self-interest, humans also have the capacity for empathy for our own kind.

Mesmerism And The End Of The Enlightenment In France

The optimistic components for human action held by Rousseau are translated into political thought through the concept of perfection. Man is the only creature who seeks to improve his condition of existence. Their will and desire for these reforms, then, translates into their political action – advocating for a democratic republican society.

Voltaire was a decidedly Gnostic philosopher rather than a revolutionary thinker, although his views were equally radical and liberal. Born François-Marie Arouet in Paris, he became a great supporter of the enlightened monarchs of his time. Voltaire is known for his infamous wit and semi-eccentric outlook on life and society in his time.

Voltaire was an extremely prolific writer who often thought in his rhetoric and satire. He wrote through art: he wrote poems, plays, novels and essays. The thinker was often subject to censorship, as France was a stronghold of the Roman Catholic Church for centuries.

The thinker satirized and ridiculed the intolerance of the Catholic faith, arguing that the political sphere had no place for religion. The argument for the separation of church and state was new and radical in this era, especially in France.

Pdf) French Enlightenment

Remnants of the strong hold that the Catholic Church held on French society also survived in her former Canadian colonies. In the Canadian province of Quebec, where French culture, language and society continue to flourish, the public school system was only deprofessionalized in 2000.

Voltaire criticized the relationship of secular politics with religion and presented the idea of ​​their division into revolutionary ideals. Voltaire had a great influence on the concept of tolerance and equality.

Many of these thinkers and writers would not live to see the fruits of their philosophical labors. Their ideology would permeate the imperial European monarchies of the Age of Enlightenment before modern republican states were born.

How Did The Enlightenment Lead To The French Revolution

Highly educated sovereigns read the words of these great minds and romanticize liberal political conduct. This was translated into widespread liberal reforms during this era, although the reforms greatly increased the scope and power of the crown.

Major Players Of The French Revolution

The subsequent ideological experiment was first conceived in the British colonies abroad. In the young United States, these concepts of democracy, liberty, and justice translated directly into the creation of its Constitution in 1776. Before the end of the century, the French would also revolt and establish their own republic built on their ideas. These great wise philosophers.

Historically speaking, the longest lasting political structure in existence was fascism. European feudalism dominated until the Age of Revolution. Just as diamonds are made under pressure, so the difficulties of a fascist structured society gave rise to what would be the most profound political movement in human history.

History and Political Theory w/ East and Christian Ideology by Alexander Standzofsky Alexander holds a BA in History and Political Theory from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. He has studied the historical narratives of the Western world as well as Christian political thought and ideology spanning from 500 BC to 1800 AD. The Age of Enlightenment ushered in a series of sweeping changes in both Europe and the English colonies in America. Both the American and French revolutions were heavily influenced by ideas from the Enlightenment period.

Natural rights, as explained by John Locke, greatly influenced both of these revolutions. In America, the Declaration of Independence drew heavily from John Locke, especially the famous phrase, “Life, Liberty, and Happiness.” Natural rights are also guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. In France, natural rights were the basis of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, a human rights document during the French Revolution.

The Enlightenment’s How Of Happiness –

Social contract theory made its way into both the American and French revolutions. In both revolutions, social contract theory gave the people a reason to overthrow their kings. Derived from this principle, the US Constitution outlines elections for all offices

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