Friday, August 10, 2012

I dont know

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Did the Enlightenment’s ideas cause the Revolution in France?

One of the most important events in history was the French Revolution in 178-175. France was considered the most powerful state in Europe although the Revolution lead it to many changes. The changes were caused by the influence of the ideas of the Enlightenment.

The Enlightenment ideas that influenced the French Revolution were the philosophy and scientific stage. The emergence of the Enlightenment came in 1750, after the death of Louis XVI and the publication of Newton’s Principia

(www.mrdowling.com/705french.html). Many Enlightenment scientists including Pierre Bayle (1647-1706) despised Louis XIV absolute monarchy and was skeptical about the claims of organized religion (McKay, Hill, Buckler, 1, p. 606). While all of the new thinkers proposed a new outlook on life, it was a group of intellectuals called the philosophers that was the most influential. The economic and political ideas espoused by the philosophers were put into actions near the end of the eighteenth century; the French Revolution. After the American Revolution in 1775 the Philosophers brought the knowledge to “their ignorant fellow creatures in an Age of Enlightenment (McKay, Hill, Buckler, 1, p. 607).

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A philosopher named Baron de Montesquieu that brought the Enlightenment thinking past philosophical meanings (McKay, Hill, Buckler, 1, p.607). Considered on of the greatest philosophers, Montesquieu was inspired by the critical method applied to physical science so he decided to apply them to the problem of government. The government at the time was royal absolutism, as it had been since Louis XIV in 175. In his book, The Spirit of Laws (1748), Montesquieu showed “that forms of government were shaped by history, geography, and customs” (McKay, Hill, Buckler, 1, p.607) and tried to prevent tyranny by promoting liberty. Montesquieu admired the English balance of power and thought that France’s 1 high courts, the parliaments, worked just a swell to prevent royal despotism. From Montesquieu theory’s, both the constitution of the United States and France would be greatly influenced (McKay, Hill, Buckler, 1, p.608).

After Montesquieu and the other Enlightenment thinkers such as Bernard de Fontenelle and Francois Marie Arouet, known as Voltaire, began publishing their thoughts and theories the general public couldn’t help but take notice. By 1780, the number of new titles grew form 600 in 1700, to 600 (McKay, Hill, Buckler, 1, p.611). Now it was not just the “privileged groups that brought books, but the general public as well. It was also know longer religious books that held the market, but books about arts and sciences. This “reading revolution” inspired a critical world-view (McKay, Hill, Buckler, 1, p.61).

The new “educated public” began to desired and consider public change. It was the American Revolution that motivated Enlightenment thinkers to educate “the monarch, who could then make good laws and promote human happiness”, thereby achieving political change. Many absolutist’s rulers did try “govern in an enlightenment manner” (McKay, Hill, Buckler, 1, p.614).

While there are other factors that contributed to the French Revolution, the ideas of the Enlightenment were the most important. Without the ideas expressed by the philosophers, the spirit and inspiration for political change would not have been possible. It was the ideas if the Enlightenment that sparked the people of France to find their own revolution.



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