Main Ideas of the Enlightenment Thinkers

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The Enlightenment is a point in history where philosophers became a huge part of society. They were putting their ideas out there of how they wanted the world to be a better place. Some said the government could be better and others said that the people need to own up to their mistakes. The Enlightenment thinkers were trying to create a future that was way different from their present.

Immanuel Kant says that the motto for the Enlightenment was “Have courage to use your own understanding.

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He believes that men are immature and need to grow up, but they don’t know how to do it by themselves. He believes that they were not living in an Enlightenment period because people did not have the freedom to express themselves properly. The people had to follow whatever rules were laid out for them without arguing. “But on all sides I hear: ‘Do not argue!’ The officer says, ‘Do not argue, drill!’ The taxman says, ‘Do not argue, pay!’ The pastor says, ‘Do not argue, believe!” The people were told to conform to the society that was unfair to them.

Mary Wollstonecraft had the thought that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men. “Arguing that women’s status was due, not to nature, but to social and cultural conditions that neglected women’s education and reduced them to the sex-objects of men. One of the things she brings up it that women are also contributing to the world by having kids and they are not acknowledged for it. “We purpose to treat women as rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood, unable to stand alone. They basically did nothing but have kids, clean the house, and watch the kids. She wanted women to have the same rights and freedoms as men all over England and the world. Women needed to have the education to be able to help teach their kids and possibly get a job if their husband dies or gets injured.

John Locke believes that the government is there to help the people. He created the Treatise because he wanted everyone to have an equal and independent lifestyle. “Locke argues that government is only meant to protect the common good and preserve each man’s property by providing laws that resolve the fundamental weakness existing in state of nature. He believed that without the government the world would fall apart. Without the laws in place, people would not be able to truly own property without having to fight for it because there would be no consequences. A part of the Treatise states “and that all men may be restrained from invading others rights, and from doing hurt to one another, and the law of nature be observed, which willeth the peace and preservation of all mankind, the execution of the law of nature is, in that state, put into every man’s hands, whereby every one has a right to punish the transgressors of that law to such a degree, as may hinder its violation: for the law of nature would, as all other laws that concern men in this world ‘be in vain, if there were no body that in the state of nature had a power to execute that law, and thereby preserve the innocent and restrain offenders. He states that if you break the law you will be punished and that none is above the law. Everyone can live his or her own lives according to the law and live amazing lives. The laws also are there to help people have happy lives and they keep everyone safe.

Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations were he “argued that an ‘invisible hand’ regulated markets as individuals pursued their own self-interest. In the Wealth of Nations he talks about how manufacturers can make things for far less then they sell it for to help pay their employees, but they still have a higher margin that they keep for themselves. Some of the manufacturers would hire fewer people to do the job so that they can keep more money for themselves. By the invention of machines, they need fewer people to create thing because the machine does most of the work. They just had one person do two to three jobs a day while still paying them very little. The workers would not quit because without the money they would not be able to help their family out.

Adam Smith also talks about the competition between countries in the manufacturing business. In different countries clothes would cost less than others because of the amount they were manufacturing at a time. In different countries, the quality of the clothes would be lower and that is why they were cheaper. “But the hard-ware and the coarse woolens of England are beyond all comparison superior to those of France, and much cheaper too in the same degree of goodness.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote, “the Social Contract which became one of his most famous pieces during the Enlightenment. The contract is about how people live their lives like contracts. There used to be slaves that worked for their lives and their family’s lives. It was like they had a contract to work. “‘As long as people are compelled to obey, and they obey, it does well; as soon as they can shake off the yoke, and they shake it off, it does still better; for, regaining their liberty by the same right as took it away, either it is justified in resuming it, or there was no justification for those who took it away.’ . People work under contracts and when the contract is up, they can get back to their own lives. Denis Diderot created the Encyclopedia to house all the ideas and articles produced by the Enlightenment thinkers during this time period. “More than any other work, this encyclopedia made the case for a new form of universal knowledge based on reason and critical thinking. He wanted to house the Enlightenment articles and books for the next generation in hopes that people might follow the ideas.

Most of the Enlightenment thinkers don’t really want to put limitations on people. They just wanted to make everything equal around the world. They wanted people to have equal rights and all the same opportunities between races. Adam Smith just wanted every economy to be equal. Mary Wollstonecraft wanted women to have rights and to be treated as equals not like little kids. John Locke just wanted the law to have everyone’s back to keep them safe. He wanted to limit the amount of crime in the world. Jean-Jacques Rousseau wanted to inform everyone that they were living their lives by contracts which basically kept them from having social lives. Denis Diderot kept all the article and books in an Encyclopedia to hold all the information for years to come.

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Main Ideas Of The Enlightenment Thinkers. (2019, Sep 14). Retrieved from