Western Civilization II chapter Seventeen

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Western Civilization II

Chapter Seventeen

The Age of Enlightenment:

18th Century Thought”

The Enlightenment

  1. The Enlightenment received its name because the intellectuals of the period were awake to, or enlightened about, the problems of their times. And made serious proposals for solving them.

  2. Revolutionary changes were brought about by scientists, thinkers, and writers.

  3. The effects of their thoughts and writings illustrate once again the tremendous power of ideas.

Newton and Other Scientists

  1. In 1687, Isaac Newton published his work title: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (Principia).

  2. It combined and related the works of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo.

  3. Newton added his own theories on universal gravitation, stating that the force of gravity not only prevents objects from flying off the earth, but also hold the hole system of sun and planets together.

Effects of Newton on Science

  1. Newton’s work had an immense influence on the thinking of his own age and on all later scientific thought.

  2. Nature and nature’s laws lay hid in night;

God said, “Let Newton be,” and all was light.

  1. The Principia gave or suggested answers to many questions about nature that had previously gone unanswered.

  2. It stimulated investigation and experimentation.

Scientific Leaders

  1. Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz: calculus

  2. Anton van Leeuwenhoek: used microscope to discover bacteria.

  3. Robert Hooke: first to identify cells in living matter.

  4. Robert Boyle: “Father of Modern Chemistry”

  5. discovered basic principles of gases. (Boyle’s Law)

  6. Joseph Priestly: discovered oxygen

  7. Benjamin Franklin: studies of electricity.

Science, Rationalism, and Natural Law

  1. Effected by the science of their day, writers and thinkers of the Enlightenment attempted to test everything by observation and by determining cause-and-effect relationships.

  2. Another characteristic of the Enlightenment was rationalism - the belief that truth can be arrived at solely by reason.

  3. Because of this characteristic, the period is often called the Age of Reason.

Thomas Hobbes

  1. One of the first modern writers to analyze government was an English philosopher, Thomas Hobbes.

  2. Published Leviathan in 1651.

  3. Man at one time lived in a “State of Nature.”

  4. Man chose a leader to rule over them to create stability.

  5. Men made what Hobbes referred to as a “Social Contract.”

  6. Hobbes argued that the monarch had to have absolute power, or anarchy would again result. – experienced English Civil War

John Locke

  1. Published his Two Treatises of Government in 1689.

  2. Supported Hobbes’ idea of a “Social Contract.”

  3. However, he believed people had given up only some of their rights and had kept others that no one could take from them (inalienable rights).

  4. These natural rights included, life, liberty, and property.

  5. If a government violated the social contract, the people had the right to alter or replace that government.

  6. Justified the Glorious Revolution.

The Enlightenment in France

  1. Locke’s ideas were enthusiastically adopted by a group of French writers in the 1700s.

  2. Baron de Montesquieu published his “Spirit of the Laws, in 1748.

  3. Supported the idea of having three separate branches of government.

  4. Executive, Legislative, and Judicial

  5. Jacques Rousseau published “The Social Contract” in 1762.

  6. A free and good state to which men are born can be preserved only if men live under a government of their own choice an control.

  1. Voltaire was a famous and influential French writer.

  2. Considered Isaac Newton as the greatest man of all time.

  3. Savagely attacked all things he considered sham and superstition.

  4. Advocated religious toleration and freedom of speech.

  5. I do not agree with a word you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

  6. Denis Diderot published his Encyclopedia in 1772.

  7. Consisted of 28 volumes

  8. Attempted to encompass all human knowledge including new ideas in science and government.

The Enlightenment and Religion

  1. Many philosophes complained that the churches hindered the pursuit of a rational life and the scientific study of humanity and nature.

  2. With this attack, the philosophes were challenging not only a set of ideas but also some of Europe’s most powerful institutions.

  3. Though the philosophes were critical of the institutions of religion, they were not opposed to all religion.


  1. John Toland published “Christianity Not Mysterious” in 1696.

  2. Promoted religion as natural and rational rather than supernatural and mystical.

  3. Viewed God as the creator, but only viewed the occurrences here on earth.

  4. God created the heavens and earth in 6 days, and he is now resting on the 7th.

  5. Deists also believed in “life after death.”

  6. Hoped their faith would end conflict between rival Christian groups, but this did not materialize.

The Enlightenment and Society

  1. The philosophes of the time were actually the first sociologists.

  2. They believed there were rational cures for the plagues of society.

  3. Cesare Baccaria published “On Crime and Punishment” in 1764.

  4. Opposed torture and capital punishment

  5. Punishment should be used to deter crime

  6. Believed in speedy trials

  7. The purpose of law is to secure the greatest good or happiness for the greatest number of people.


  1. Physiocrats were Enlightenment thinkers who studied economics.

  2. Believed that the primary role of government was to protect property and to permit the owners to use it freely.

  3. Economic production depended on sound agricultural practices.

  4. Combining small farms into larger, more efficient farms.

  5. Adam Smith published his “Wealth of Nations: in 1776.

Adam Smith

  1. Smith reasoned that all business and economic activity is regulated by two natural laws:

  2. the law of “supply and demand.”

  3. the law of “competition.”

  4. Smith felt every man should be free to do what he thought best for himself.

  5. Opposed mercantilism and supported “Laissez Faire” economics

Malthus and Ricardo

  1. Smith’s ideas received the support of Thomas Malthus and David Ricardo.

  2. Thomas Malthus published “An Essay on the Principles of Population” in 1798.

  3. Population grows geometrically while food production grows arithmetically.

  4. David Ricardo published the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation in 1817.

  5. “Iron law of wages”

  6. wages are based upon population and if population further increases wages will continue to decline.

Women and the Enlightenment

  1. Women of the Enlightenment Period had a dramatic influence on the age.

  2. The ideas of the Enlightenment were promoted in the salons of France.

  3. Originated in the 1600s when women of Paris began inviting a few friends to their homes for poetry readings.

  4. By the 1700s, middle class women began holding salons.

  5. Salonieres (middle class) met on an equal basis with the nobility to discuss Enlightenment ideas

  1. During the mid 1700s, a leading saloniere was Madame Geoffrin of Paris.

  2. Wife of a French businessman

  3. Brought together the brightest and most talented people of her day.

  4. Mondays - artists and musicians (Mozart)

  5. Wednesdays - philosophers and poets

  6. Corresponded with Maria Theresa and Catherine the Great.

  7. Catherine the Great even had spied sent to Madame Geoffrin’s salon to find out what was said.

  1. Women of this period were not well-educated but learned by listening to the ideas of the intellectuals.

  2. Saloniere women were not intimidated by men.

  3. While remaining gracious hosts, they demanded high levels of discussion in their homes.

  4. By the late 1700s, the influence of the salons had ended.

Enlightened Despots

  1. The ideas of the Enlightenment influenced not only writers and philosophers, but also the rulers of Europe.

  2. Those who were interested in the new thought of the period were called “Enlightened Despots.”

  3. Catherine the Great of Russia

  4. Frederick the Great of Prussia

  5. Joseph II of Austria

  6. These monarchs only paid minor attention to the rights of people while only trying to increase their own power.

Catherine II

  1. Read the works of philosophes and exchanged letters with Voltaire and Diderot.

  2. Experimented with Enlightenment ideas when she became empress in 1762.

  3. Made limited reforms in law and government.

  4. Granted nobles a Charter of Rights.

  5. Began to speak out against serfdom

  6. Pugachev Rebellion

  7. Ruthlessly put down the rebellion and reinstated harsh serfdom on her people.

Frederick II

  1. King of Prussia from 1740 to 1786.

  2. Saw himself as the “First servant of the State.”

  3. Admired Voltaire

  4. Voltaire hired to establish the Prussian Academy of Science.

  5. Improved agriculture by draining swamp lands and giving peasants tools and seed.

  6. Tolerated religious differences

  7. In my kingdom, everyone can go to heaven in his own fashion.”

  8. Reorganized the civil service and simplified laws.

Joseph II

  1. The most radical Enlightened Despot.

  2. Traveled among his subjects while disguised to find out their problems.

  3. Known as the “Peasant Emperor.”

  4. Modernized the Austrian government.

  5. Chose talented middle-class officials as department heads.

  6. Imposed a range of political and legal reforms.

  7. Supported religious toleration.

  8. Abolished serfdom.

  9. Built hospitals and schools.

Partitioning of Poland

  1. Poland was large but had many weaknesses.

  2. Kings were elected by nobles.

  3. Puppets to the nobles.

  4. Caused domestic and international problems

  5. Austria, Prussia, and Russia each tried to put its favorite on the Polish throne.

  6. Liberum veto: any member of the Diet could veto the actions of the legislature.

  7. Poland also contained a large number of people of different nationalities.

First Partition of Poland

  1. In 1772, according to a previously made agreement, Russia, Prussia, and Austria each took a slice of Polish territory.

  2. Seized one-fourth of the land and one-third of Poland's population.

  3. Poland attempted to reorganize its government.

  4. Abolished the liberum veto.

  5. Adopted a new constitution.

Second & Third Partition of Poland

  1. Before reforms could be carried out, Russia and Prussia took a second helping of Polish lands in 1793.

  2. Led to a Polish rebellion that threatened to spread throughout eastern Europe.

  3. To prevent the revolt from spreading, Russia, Prussia, and Austria met in 1795 and agreed on a Third Partition.

  4. This operation was final and Poland disappeared from the map of Europe.

Partitioning of Poland

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