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Lecture 2

MMW 14 Lecture 2: Jan 10 2019Premium

5 pages91 viewsWinter 2019

Department
Making of the Modern World
Course Code
MMW 14
Professor
Edmond Chang
Lecture
2

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The Enlightenment and Social Contracts
Enlightenment social contract theorists wanted to find an alternative to the state of
nature with absolute monarchies
The Historical Context Behind the Enlightenment
Challenges to absolutism, secular and religious
In France, the “last hurrah” of absolutist monarchy during the reign of Louis XIV
In 1685, revoked the Edict of Nantes
Gave French Protestants a degree of freedom
Had allowed French Protestants to worship freely
Persecution of the Huguenots ensued
Many were killed
Many converted
More decided to go into exile (mostly to Geneva)
Inspired propaganda against the French monarchy and the Catholic
Church
1685 coronation of James II in England, another Catholic king
Only appointed Catholics as his officials and purposely excluded
Protestants
He wanted to be an absolutist like the French
Fear of return to absolutism sparked the Glorious Revolution in 1689
James tried to restore the power of the king by stripping the power
of Parliament
Many of these things were inserted after and by Cromwell
The Glorious Revolution instated William of Orange (the Dutch
prince that married Princess Anne), but only on the condition that
he listen to Parliament and submit some of his power to them
The English Bill of Rights
Gave Parliament oversight over royal authority
Assured that once and for all that religious tolerance as a
foundation of society
Included every citizen’s right to trial by jury
Assured the freedom of speech
Key Enlightenment philosophers were impacted by these cataclysmic events
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)
Published Leviathan in 1651
Leviathan was published in the wake of Cromwell’s revolution
A reflection about his concerns about social chaos
He had witnessed the turmoil of the English civil war
John Locke (1632-1704)
Championed a Parliamentary gov
Had also witnessed the English Civil War
At a much younger age than Hobbes
Had also seen the resurgence of Catholicism and absolutism under
James II
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He had been instrumental in the Glorious Revolution
Advocated for the restraint of the power of any monarch
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
Attacked not only the absolutism of his age, but also advocated a more
equitable gov than Locke had proposed
A Genevan citizen
Grew up among the French Protestant exiles
Moved to Paris in his adulthood
Witnessed the social inequality and urban squalor in the city (he
didn’t like it)
Made him a staunch advocate for equality in all men
Different conclusions, but similar inspiration
Newton’s discovery of the laws of optics and universal gravitation
He surpassed all classical learning in science and had found a
universal law
Galvanized a general upsurge of confidence in human reason
Couldn’t the laws of science also be applied to civil society?
The word “Enlightenment” comes from Newton’s experiments with
optics and light
From the State of Nature to Civil Society
Hobbes argument for a powerful sovereign or Leviathan
Hobbes’ view of the state of nature
Not just an abstract vision of an imagined past, but also reflection of his
own time
An environment before society where all men are equally strong and
intelligent
His argument for intelligence is that we are all equally able to
survive and learn from our life experience
Equality isn’t necessarily a good thing, because in this state of nature, it is
used to do harm
Since all men naturally act for their own self benefit, this state of
nature is a bloodbath
His dark view of the state of nature was informed by his own experiences
(the English Civil War)
A constant state of war
Three motivations for conflict in such a state of nature
Competition (for gain)
Competition for resources
Diffidence (for safety)
Lack of confidence that inspires a need for safety
Due to your fear of others, you may end up attacking them first to
try to assure your own safety
Glory (for reputation)
“Such desires and other passions of man are in themselves no sin”
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