Paper Example. Enlightenment Philosophes

Published: 2023-05-01
Paper Example. Enlightenment Philosophes
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  History Philosophers Social change
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1611 words
14 min read

Various Enlightenment philosophes have contributed towards the way the world changed in the 18th and 19th Centuries after the scientific revolution began, which liberated people from the past established ideologies leading to a new intellectual approach where there was the emergence of enlightenment ideas such as individual freedom, popular sovereignty, and political and legal identity. The paper examines contribution to enlightenment by notable philosophes such as John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, Zera Yacob, Francois Marie-Arouet, Mary Wollstonecraft, Alexander Crummell, Charle Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, and Olympe de Gouges.

Trust banner

Is your time best spent reading someone else’s essay? Get a 100% original essay FROM A CERTIFIED WRITER!

John Locke contributed to popular sovereignty as he viewed government as a contract that takes place between rulers and those who are ruled. Locke argued that rulers should have a political right to rule and obtain power via people and can be dismissed by the same people who gave them that power, and the people should have liberty, life, and property. Locke also contributed to individual freedom by resenting religious persecution of royal censorship and minorities and wanted toleration of religion and giving people the freedom to express personal ideas. The contribution of John Locke had great inspiration on many political systems that exist in the West that gave a lot of people freedom. His philosophy dwells on the idea that no legitimate government is formed under King's theory. Many West governments adopted Locke's ideas on citizens' natural rights that the government has to protect (Seliger, 13). Locke's philosophy of mind is acknowledged to be the origin of modern identity and self-conceptions. Through his political views, he is responsible for the French Revolution through advocating for democracy and modern liberalism in the West.

Charles Louis de Secondat, and Baron de Montesquieu focused on spirits of law and argued that political laws are do not fill all cultures and are subjective. Believed that monarch should only be intermediary institutions having their authority, but should not have absolute power. He argued that governments should be divided into three branches, namely judicial, executive, and legislature. Construction of the naturalistic account of the three forms of government was his main contribution to enlightenment. Through this account, he explained how corruption might be eliminated from the government by bounding the three bodies by the rule of law as there will be a balance of powers. In the West revolution, this theory of separation of powers was significant in impacting liberal political theory, and it assisted in framing constitutions of various Europe Countries. Authors of constitutions in the West utilized his reasoning to establish a division of duties and laws. Also, it was used in provision inclusion to preserve individual liberties.

Olympe de Gouges' contribution to enlightenment was more of advocating for gender equality by challenging male authority. Gouges proposed for social security through her writings by calling for elderly care, hotels for unemployed, the introduction of a jury system, and institutions for the homeless. She largely influenced the enlightenment of France's political structures, which later granted women political rights, and the old regime was dismantled through the transfer of sovereignty from the constitution to the nation. Some of her propositions were incorporated into the change and progress of the political revolution of France. She established various documents acknowledging women and their equal liberties. Her legacy resulted in a discussion in the rights of women, which were not discussed before the French revolution. During the French revolution, Gouges took a militant and more passionate approach for women's rights in the enlightenment era as he was not happy about the way women were treated in the pre-revolution of France.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed that it is not possible in an injustice world for individuals to be just. Believed society to be primarily responsible for evils in people, and it made people pursue their self-interests. Rousseau also believed that man was born free, but in society, they are always in the chain. The catalyst for evil, according to Rousseau, is the uneven distribution of land. The creation of laws is the responsibility of every individual in the society as all the members of a society are collectively sovereign. Rousseau observed a fundamental divide between human nature and society, and he believed that human was right in the state of nature before they get corrupted by the growth of social interdependence and artificiality of society. He concludes that individuals can remain free and preserve themselves by joining together through social contract into civil society (Koops, 48). Rousseau was the towering figure in the development of educational theory, which proved more serviceable. His view of a natural sentiment that education has to cultivate in children and allow the creation of an uncorrupted society is where the moral order rests on today.

Alexander Crummel advocated for moral reasoning as an intuition of the needed noble truths, and he argued for the central place of reason in moral agency. He worked out the consequences of reasoning in history and language. His thought was a response to various gathering philosophical pressures on black civil rights. Through the use of reasoning to define morality and moral truths, Crummel managed to argue that civil rights would be subject to retractions in the future if the favor of those rights on blacks is partial or are based on black's local conditions. Crummel on Natural Rights stated that rights should not be considered as abstract principles used in human affairs. Still, they should be seen as principles that are derived from emotional and passionate natures. His ideas in the enlightenment period resulted in blacks having equal rights as Whites in American after the revolution, and the positive effect extended to the West during revolution leading to a reduction in slavery and equal rights being offered to black individuals.

David Hume's contribution to enlightenment was on recognition of the difference that existed between matters of value and fact as he classified moral judgment to be matters of value as they were about passions and sentiments which govern human behavior in society. Hume argued that humanity is mostly inclined to emotion than reason, holding that people experience a bundle of sensations that are causally-connected perceptions making up the idea of self in society. He developed the theory of free will, which takes causal determinism and is fully comparted in the freedom of human beings.

Mary Wollstonecraft focused mainly on the rights of women in society. Mary believed women confined to home are not able to achieve their intellectual or moral identity and are victims of tyranny, and denial of education to women in society would only slow and impede the progress of humanity. She argued that when women receive equal treatment as men and receive a formal education, they will contribute to social development along with their male counterparts. From her ideas, women in the West began to revolutionize and developed a new intellect and started to contribute to society in different ways (Latif, 6). Women started receiving formal education that is seen today in all West countries. She wanted women to imagine a social order which was founded on reason.

Zera Yacob believed that in society, individuals from every gender are created equal and believed in the supremacy of reason by claiming that the order in the natural world makes the most sense. On the part of religious existentialism and subjectivity, Yacob believed his faith to right and condemned those who believed in other faith and equally criticized Christianity, Islam, Indian, and Judaism religions. Also, Yacob argued that the foundation of the world was rational, and church institutions should be replaced with the reason that is found within the human intellect.

Francois-Marie Arouet was pessimistic in his interpretation of life and society as he knew that society requires improvement. He believed that society should consist of all people who are equal under the law, and individuals such as workers, peasants, and artisans contribute more to society compared to privileged aristocrats. He found inspiration in the ideals of free commerce and freedom of religion, along with free and liberal society. Francois waged war against superstition and the twin hydras of fanaticism, where his ideas were embraced later in France. His enlightenment philosophy by Francois lead to positive changes in the revolution of France, and he is regarded as a progressive reformer and a modernizer who contributed to a new acceptance of society during the time of revolution (Israel, 57). The canonization that Francois initiated is being applied until today as his contributions were and remain relevant.

The Enlightenment ideas by the philosophes encouraged the consolidation of national states as a political organization. From this, a sense of nationalism and identity emerged, which resulted in the formation of states in Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries (Gottlieb, 23). It led to the shifting of the rule in European governments from old ideas of absolutism and the divine right of kings. Concepts such as popular sovereignty and individual freedom were advocated by John Locke, whereas Zera Yacob advocated political and legal equality. The Enlightenment era was viewed as the founder of rationality and individualism. The women philosophes the likes of Mary Wollstonecraft, and Olympe de Gouges were the reason women currently in the West have natural rights and are equal to men and can receive formal education in all fields without discrimination.

Works Cited

Gottlieb, Anthony. The Dream of Enlightenment: The Rise of modern philosophy. WW Norton & Company, 2016.

Israel, Jonathan. Democratic Enlightenment: philosophy, revolution, and human rights 1750-1790. Oxford University Press, 2013.

Koops, Willem. "Jean Jacques Rousseau, modern developmental psychology, and Education." European Journal of Developmental Psychology 9.sup1 (2012): 46-56.

Latif, Nadia. "Enlightenment, The." The International Encyclopedia of Anthropology (2018): 1-10., Martin. The liberal politics of John Locke. Routledge, 2019.

Cite this page

Paper Example. Enlightenment Philosophes. (2023, May 01). Retrieved from

Request Removal

If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the SpeedyPaper website, please click below to request its removal:

Liked this essay sample but need an original one?

Hire a professional with VAST experience!

24/7 online support

NO plagiarism