The enlightenment refers to the intellectual movement of the 18th century where European politics, philosophy, science and communications were radically reoriented. The enlightenment philosophes in Britain, France and throughout Europe questioned traditional authority and embraced the notion that humanity could be improved through rational change. Therefore, numerous books, essays, inventions, scientific discoveries and laws were produced by the Enlightenment philosophes to make persons aware of their ideas. The French and American Revolution was directly inspired by the Enlightenment ideals and respectively marked the peak of its influence and the beginning of its decline.
In the Enlightenment, philosophes had new ideas about government and believed that truth could be discovered through reason and logical thinking and that happiness could be attainted if one lived by nature’s laws. They also believed that with a scientific approach society and mankind could be perfected. Specific ideas of Locke, Voltaire, and Montesquieu and other philosophes played central roles in the Enlightenment. John Locke expressed the natural rights in his book “Two Treatises on Government” which are life, liberty and property. Locke’s natural rights were the foundation for the primary document of the French Revolution, “The Declaration of the Rights of Man”, whereas this document stated that the role of the government was to protect the natural rights of the citizens. He believed in constitutional monarchy and said that no king should have absolute power which basically meant he thought that any ruler should have rules to follow as well. He also believed in a social contract: people give a little of their freedom to their ruler, but cannot take away their natural rights, the rights that they are born with, and they have the right to get rid of their ruler if that person does not live up to the standards of a good ruler.
Montesquieu however, criticized France's monarchical...
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