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Main Idea of the Enlightenment

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The Enlightenment which was during the seventeenth and eighteenth century was a time that helped shape the capitalistic, democratic world we live in today. The Enlightenment was also called the Age of Reason because that period was a time of high intellect and bright new ideas. Philosophers would meet to discuss economic, political. social, and religious questions. These questions made the philosophers hope that they might some new ways to understand and improve their society. They also hoped that they could become like the famous scientist Isaac Newton but for social sciences.

There Is an Idea that Is basic to all of the four philosophers, but the question is: what was their main idea? John Locke was the philosopher who captured the whole Idea of The Enlightenment. The maln Idea ot The Enlightenment was about people’s rights and their freedom. John Locke did a good job explaining it in an excerpt from Second Treatise on Civil Government which was written in 1690 (eighty- six years ago). In the excerpt Locke speaks about how all men have freedom to do what they want as long as they are not breaking the law.

He also says that people are born with reason and have three natural rights. The three natural rights are lite, liberty, and property (pursuit of happiness). “(W)e must consider, what state all men are naturally in, and that Is a state of perfect freedom to order their actions. and dispose of their possessions and persons, as they fit, within the bounds of the law of nature…. ” These words written by Locke sums up the Ideas of The Enlightenment In a perfect way.

Locke is not the only one with the ideas though there were three other thinkers who had their own views on the Age of Reason A female philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft had a similar, but dfferent perspective on The Enlightenment. Wollstonecraft had her own idea, but it did not truly explain the main idea of it. Mary Wollstonecraft was a Brltlsh author who wrote novels, a history of the French Revolution, a travel Journal, and a children’s book. One of the novels that she wrote was on the rights ot women.

During the eighteenth century most people believed that women should be dependent on men and were discouraged from studying or learning. She believed that women were being restrained from their rights and that they should be freed. “… he only method of leading women to fulfill their peculiar duties is to free them from all restraints by allowing them to participate in the Inherent rights ot D: Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vlndlcatlon ot the Rights of Women, 1792] In her perspective the Age of Reason was the time for women to be freed and have the same rights as men.

Another thinker that does not have the main Idea for The Enlightenment, but does have his opinions is Voltaire. Voltaire was a prolific writer who composed poems, novels, essays, plays, and over twenty thousand personal letters. Voltaire’s views on The Enlightenment were a bit different rom the other philosophers especially Lockes. He talks about the Royal Exchange to help you visualize what his thoughts on The Enlightenment were, The Royal Exchange was a trading center In London where people meet from all the different nations to work as one to help out and guide one another.

He also states that a government with only one religion would be bad because it could possibly become illogical. A government with two religions would still not be good because the two would Just fght all the time. The idea Voltaire is trying to get at is that with a variety of religions functioning together we would be all happy. … but as there are such a multitude, they all live happy and in peace. ” His idea on The Enlightenment is that people should work together, but it is not the same as Locke’s big idea on freedom and rights.

Adam Smith’s ideas are also not too similar with Lockes. One last philosopher that has his outlook on The Enlightenment is Adam Smith. Smith supports and economic system based on individual decision making. This idea leads back to the big idea of Locke’s on human rights and liberty. He says that people are free to pursue their interests in heir own ways. Smith also speaks about the economy and how most individuals work to have gain economically for their own. What the people do not know is that they are helped by the “invisible hand” of God to promote the society along with themselves.

By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more than when he really intends to promote it” Smith is saying that The Enlightenment was during the time of mercantilism also and that it was about God guiding individuals to make decisions that would benefit the national economy. The ideas of the philosophers were somewhat similar to each other, but Locke was the one with the main idea.

Although Mary Wollstonecraft, Voltaire, and Adam Smith have related strong ideas on The Enlightenment Locke still had a more powerful impacting idea that tied it all up. Locke’s idea was the main idea because if you look at the world we live in today you see that we all have rights and freedom. As Locke says all humans have three natural rights, but those who harm our life, liberty, or property must be punished, and this idea of his has made an impact on the world we live in today because those who reak the law are certainly punished.

Locke’s ideas of the Age of Reason have come a long way since the seventeenth and eighteenth century. His idea was the main idea because look at where it has brought us today. Yes women have the same rights as men now, yes some religions work together, and yes when we work for ourselves we also work for the society, but what really shaped the capitalistic, democratic world we live today was John Locke’s idea on The Enlightenment. They all definitely had their fair share of impacts on shaping our world, but John Locke was the man with the true, exact, and spot on idea of the Age of Reason.

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