Professor Timothy Coogan
January 17, 2009
Sources Homework 4
Document 1 (page 53)
1. What did Immanuel Kant mean by the terms enlightenment and freedom?
Immanuel Kant used the terms enlightenment and freedom to identify each other. He determined that the true meaning of enlightenment is to be free of any barriers that an individual may put on themselves that may prevent them from thinking their own thoughts out of their own will. He stated that to be enlightened is to be free to use one’s intelligence by itself, without any guidance from the church, authority, etc. He asserts that to truly be enlightened , people must use their own reason freely at all times in order to derive answers to any questions that they may have without any influence of the church, religion, authority, etc. In addition, he stressed the power of human beings to take control of their own reality and value their individual intelligence.
2. In Kant’s view, what factors delayed the progress of human enlightenment?
According to Kant, the major factor that delayed the progress of human enlightenment was tradition in the authority of the church. He noted that many governments have used their power to shape the thoughts and lifestyles of their citizens and this is the main factor that is preventing people from thinking on their own and deriving their own explanations about life. Another factor that Kant identified to be delaying human enlightenment is an individual’s fear to think on his own. He asserts that since people have been living with “guidance” their whole lives, they are reluctant to think on their own because they simply don’t know how to or aren’t familiar with the process. This factor boils down to the individual’s determination to be free of any external restraints that he may have on himself in order to achieve enlightenment.
Lastly, he concludes that ultimately there are restrictions on freedom everywhere and it is ultimately up to individuals to free themselves from intellectual bondage.
3. What are the political implications of Kant’s view?
The political implications of Kant’s view would be that one of the church’s and government’s goals is to shape their citizen’s minds to their own benefit. In his essay he mentions how people have too much guidance in the sense that they are taught what and how to think. This is the exact bondage of the mind that he refers to when he stresses the freedom of the mind. Ultimately, he is exposing authority in the way that its shapes the minds of the people it is governing, therefore, insinuating that the government is restricting the people to think on their own as individuals. Furthermore, this would be considered by Kant a form of restriction that authority is putting on people and preventing them from achieving enlightenment.
Document 2 (page 57)
1. Compare the views of John Locke with those of Thomas Hobbes regarding the character of human nature, political authority, and the right to rebellion.
John Locke and Thomas Hobbes have competing views regarding the character of human nature. Locke believed that people are essentially good and human while Hobbes believed that, although at times, humans are dangerous and should be protected from one another. Regarding politics, Hobbes believed that the unlimited power of monarchy would be the only way to protect people from each other and, maintain a civilized and successful state. Locke, on the other hand, believed that people do not have to be protected from one another rather; it was the duty of the government to protect the natural rights of life, liberty and property for human beings. He also believed that the power in a government must be held by the consent of the people, as well as the state’s authorities in a peaceful agreement. As for rebellion, Hobbes believed that a government should exercise control over its territory so as to prevent any form of rebellion which could ultimately lead to anarchy. Locke believed that, if the government in any way threatened the natural rights of human beings, the people have the right to overthrow that government and in place, put to authority the people so that they may govern themselves. His notion is that in the sense of the government violating the peoples rights, they are the rebels who deserve to be overthrown.
2. Compare Locke’s theory to natural rights with the principals stated in the American Declaration of Independence.
In writing the American Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson took a lot of their concepts about rights and liberty from John Locke’s theory. The Declaration of Independence, like John Locke’s theory, emphasizes the natural human rights to life, liberty and property, which should be enforced by a government appointed by the people. Both also emphasize that right for the people to govern themselves under a government that would take into consideration the people who are living there rather than the people governing. Lastly, the Declaration also criminalizes any authority who prevents the people from their natural rights and therefore, is subject to be replaced by a more fair representative of the people.
Document 3 (page 64)
1. What arguments did Voltaire offer in favor of religious toleration?
Although Voltaire did not agree with Christianity and felt that it attributed to the problems in modern society, he still had great respect for their morality. However, he strongly felt that it was religious intolerance that caused many wars and many problems in the world today. He regarded intolerance as hypocritical to the Christian religion because the church prosecuted other Christians and exercised corruption, because intolerance was also a power struggle. He then goes to say that with tolerance, there have been no wars. Under the Christian law, all men and women are brothers and sisters, therefore, regardless of religion, individuals should be treated as such. He also notes that humans make mistakes and it is Christian to forgive them therefore, a tolerant, forgiving authority will be the one that carries on the will of God and keeps peace between the people.
2. Why did Voltaire ridicule Christian theological disputation?
Voltaire ridiculed Christian theological disputation due to the fact that the Christian religion contains so many paradoxes and contradictions. In this sense he concludes that he doesn’t understand it and believes that others do not understand it also. Furthermore, he addressed the problem that Christianity has caused many wars and rebellions due to intolerance against other Christians which is beyond his comprehension for reasonable men.
3. What did Voltaire mean by the term fanaticism? What examples did he provide? How was it to be cured?
According to Voltaire, fanaticism is a “disease” that certain people contain for something in which they feel so strongly about that they would do anything to fulfill their goals, with no regards for the reason and logic of a respectful Christian. For example, he speaks of the St. Bartholomew massacre where thousands of Protestants were slaughtered because they did not want to renounce their religion. This, he states, is fanaticism for Christianity and power. He also gives the example of corrupt judges who prosecute men and sentence them to death for doing nothing but having a different opinion than they had. Furthermore, he then goes on to conclude that “he who reinforces his madness by murder is a fanatic” (59). Voltaire results to only one solution that may cure the disease of “fanaticism” is the philosophical spirit that he says softens the disease and prevents it from spreading. Another solution he provides is to flee from the area in which fanaticism is prevailing due to his belief that it spreads like a contagious disease, until the “air has become purified”(59).
4. What Christian beliefs did Thomas Paine reject? Why?
Thomas Paine rejected almost all of the Christian beliefs except for the belief in God and the morality that He represents. However, he does not believe in the Virgin Mary, Jesus Christ as the son of God who was resurrected, or the creed in which all religions set forth for their believers. He supports his views with the simple fact that there is no evidence that could possibly render the scriptures and stories in the Bible as true. He does not choose to rely on years of hearsay, as he proclaims the Bible is accounts of hearsay, and therefore does not believe in the commandments or Christ. In doing so, Paine is using logic, reason, and his knowledge of science to determine that religion in no way can be correct in every aspect and therefore, he would not believe in it unless there is some sort of logical explanation for what the Bible proclaims.
5. How did Baron d’Holback’s critique of religion affirm basic Enlightenment ideals?
Holback’s critique of religion affirms the basic Enlightenment ideals of freedom and reason. He asserted that God was a product of the ignorance of humanity, who tried to explain the natural phenomena that they saw before them. Furthermore, he also implies that humanity fabricated religion in order to obtain some sort of stability with the natural disasters that occurred, and accredited it to a higher power in which they should please so as to prevent any more disaster. He determined that religion is nothing but a long trend of logical fallacies that over the years, authority figures have used to control and obtain power over people, land , etcetera. His ideas reflect that of the Enlightenment because his thoughts are breaking away from the traditional, dominant theological view on life, and he is question religion itself. This type of extreme secular thought was unheard of and brutally criminalized during the Middle Ages as well as the Renaissance. In addition, extreme secular thought during the Enlightenment period reflected the freedom and reason that scholars used to explain things around them. Holback’s atheistic opinion on the world greatly corresponds to the free though of the individual and the application of reason that was emphasized during the Enlightenment.
Document 4 (page 71
1. According to John Locke, knowledge originates in experience and has two sources- the sense and reflection. What does this mean, and what makes this view of knowledge so revolutionary?
John Locke declared that knowledge originates from experience through human senses and reflection. By senses, he meant that the sensations that human beings experience in their every day lives allow them to interpret things around them. This therefore constitutes as a source of knowledge due to the information about the world that the mind is acquiring through the human senses. He also emphasized sensation as knowledge itself, which allows people to interpret their surroundings and relate various things to one another. By reflection, Locke meant that it the human mind that contains the means to interpret its surroundings and experiences by reflecting its experiences to others. He also stated that the unique human ability to reflect on one’s self constitutes for a vast amount of knowledge. He continued to declare that through reflection, humans are able to reason and derive conclusions from withstanding facts; which fabricates understanding and therefore, knowledge. Locke’s view was so revolutionary due to the theological ideas that were present at the time. Contrary to the beliefs of the church, Locke argued that humans are not born with innate ideas implanted by a divine source. He asserted that at birth, a child’s mind is like a blank sheet of paper, acquiring knowledge through experience, reflection and sensation.
2. How does Locke’s view of the origin of knowledge compare to that of Rene Descartes? Which view do you favor, or can you suggest another alternative?
Locke’s view of the origin of knowledge compliments the view of knowledge that Descartes asserted. Descartes emphasized the ability for human beings to acquire knowledge by means of their surrounding and the society that they live in. He determined that knowledge, as well as personality, was manifested by an individual’s ability to think for himself, which was formulated ultimately by his surroundings. Locke’s view also emphasized the ability for human beings to acquire knowledge via direct experience from their surroundings by means of sensation and reflection. Both scholars emphasized the fundamental rule that a human being has the ability to acquire knowledge through his own right to think and reason. However, Descartes determined that mathematical principals, logical relationships and principals of cause and effect were inherent in the mind of a child. Locke, on the other hand, believed that children do not contain these innate concepts; rather, they learn them as they grow older. I favor Locke’s view on knowledge because I believe that children do not have any knowledge about their surrounds when they are born. Children learn how to think and how to reason by means of their environment and how they are taught and learn throughout their lives. This is a justification of how all people contain unique ideas and mental capacities that differ from place to place.
3. How would you characterize Locke’s general theory of education? Is it compatible with his theory of knowledge?
I would characterize Locke’s general theory of education by simply stating that, by example, a child would learn how to live and acquire knowledge. This theory is therefore compatible with Locke’s theory of knowledge because, according to that theory, children learn by means of their surroundings through experience. Furthermore, when adults intend to educate children, it should not be through beatings and punishment, but by example of how they observe their educators acting. Consequently, through the observations of their teachers and parents, children learn how to act accordingly which therefore would lead them to be educated civilized people. In addition, Locke’s theories compliment each other with the fundamental rule that, at birth, children do not have innate ideas about how to think rather, they must learn these ideas and concepts by ways of their life experiences.
4. What implications do Locke’s theory of knowledge and educational theory have for his conception of human nature?
According to Locke’s theories, it would be accurate to imply that it is in human nature to learn and ultimately be a product of their environments. Contrary to the popular belief at the time, Locke did not think that humans are born either good or evil rather; they are taught how to be good and evil through their experiences and observing others. In all, Locke’s theories prove that it is in the human mind’s capacity to be taught and therefore shape his being.
5. In what way may Claude Helvetius be regarded as a disciple of John Locke, and how did he expand the significance of Locke’s ideas?
Claude Helvetius is regarded as a disciple of Locke because he expands upon Locke’s theory of education that children learn through their surroundings and experiences. Helvetius goes further to expand Locke’s theory by asserting that in order to make a nation happy, content, and successful, education of the newer generations should be articulated in such a manner to shape citizens accordingly. He also goes further and determines that the genius of man is only produced through the circumstances in which they are placed. Therefore leading him to conclude that in order to form happy, intelligent beings, reform should occur in both government and education to alter a person’s surroundings in order to be able to produce logical, reasonable, happy, good, etc., individuals.
6. What was Rousseau’s basic approach to educating a child?
Rousseau’s basic approach to educating a child is to allow him to learn on his own desire. He stresses that a child should not be taught like a grown man is taught, told what to do all the time and how to think because, as a consequence, he would be forever reliant on others to think for him. He determined that if a child is learning through his own desire to learn, he would acquire knowledge that would help him become a reasonable, intelligent and mature man. In addition, Rousseau emphasized the need to allow children to explore and experiment with their surroundings in order to teach them about themselves and how to think on their own. It is only through thinking on his own, that he would become an independent, wise and reasonable man.
7. Compare Rousseau’s theory of education with Locke’s. How similar or different are their views, and what implications do they have for their respective conceptions of human nature?
Rousseau and Locke have very similar theories about educating children. They both strongly asserted that a child should learn by means of his surroundings and should not be taught as an adult would be taught. Both scholars stress the importance of the child’s ability to interpret information and education as reliable to them and not as a burden. It is only through this that children would be able to think and learn effectively. Although these theories are fundamentally similar, they do contain various differences. For example, Rousseau believed that child should learn through his own desire to learn and therefore, should not be taught in a school where he feels restrained and bored. He stressed that ability of the child to learn and develop on his own terms by means of his own desire to learn. On the other hand Locke determined that children should be taught through the example of others so they may follow and learn to be reasonable men. In addition, Rousseau believed that children should not rely on adults for guidance all the time because it would form an indestructible reliance to others as they become older. For him, this would be the least effective in shaping an independent individual. Conclusively, both Locke and Rousseau believe that ultimately, a child is shaped by his surrounding and by his education however, they do differ in their approaches in teaching children by means of experience.
According to Rousseau, it is human nature to learn and desire. However, he also believed that it is human nature to be formed by one’s surroundings and therefore a person may risk being reliant on certain resources. On the other hand, Locke also believed that it is human nature to learn and desire, however, he believed that educators must channel that desire and learning through direct example and guidance for the child. This view is in contrast with Rousseau’s view because he believed that through example, a child would rely too much on others, therefore a child should learn through his natural desires rather than the desires of others.
Document 5 (page 74)
1. Why was the publication of the Encyclopedia a vital step in the philosophes’ hopes for reform?
The publication of the Encyclopedia is a vital step in the philosophes hopes for reform because it advocated freedom and liberty. It also advocates the history of mankind as a learning tool to refrain from making mistakes that have been made in the past. Lastly, the Encyclopedia also asserts that government should be at the people’s best interest and that in order for reform to occur, the people as well as officials should be enlightened. Through the publication of the Encyclopedia, the French philosophes hoped to spread the enlightened knowledge in order to spread reform and wisdom among free, liberated people.
2. To what extent were John Locke’s political ideals reflected in the Encyclopedia?
John Locke’s fundamental political idea that people should be free to think, feel and live as they please was reflected in the Encyclopedia. Locke asserted that it was the state’s obligation and responsibility to the people to preserve their natural rights. The Encyclopedia also emphasized the government’s right to preserve the liberty and rights of the people in order to maintain a happy and successful nation. Lastly, both Locke and the Encyclopedia emphasized the government’s need to acknowledge the people’s free will and their right to govern themselves by means of a representative government.
3. Why was freedom of the press of such significance to the enlightened philosophes?
Freedom of the press was significant to the enlightened philosophes because it allowed them to publish works that would spread their enlightened ideas to the people. This would therefore contribute to the spread of liberty and the reform of government. It would also constitute for the ultimate change in the quality of life in Europe.