The Absolute State
-Richelieu’s actions made King Louis XIII possess absolute power where he could act
without any restrictions. However it is beneficial because there would only one leader
who would take money from you and the leader could also protect you from foreign
invasion easily. Absolutism was also seen as a solution to the 30 years war and
Thomas Hobbes -Seeks to find order in the age of disorder.
- Rejects the idea of divine right of king.
-Wrote the “Leviathan” that argues necessary evil, which is the monarch, is needed for
the sake of the state as he sees issues that citizens do not and believes in the greater good
for the greatest number of people. This idea sets the foundation of the absolute state. His
argument introduces politics that is not supernatural or divine but a rational way of
making society better.
Louis XIV -The creation of the first proper absolute monarch.
- The king was too young to rule when his father died and thus, a council governed
France. The leader, who was chosen by Richelieu, named Mazarin helped the king.
-Like Richelieu, Mazarin was a brilliant diplomat and cardinal. He was greedy and hated
by majority outside the crown because he is not French nor of noble birth. After the
second Fronde, Mazarin was dying and told the king not to appoint a successor to him,
and that he should take the power for himself. So when he died in 1661, Louis became an
absolute monarch and minister.
Jean Baptist Colbert - Louis XIV need help and hired Colbert to control the king’s
finance. Colbert did such a good job that he was given many other important positions
although he was not from noble birth. Through the positions given to him, Colbert turned
the impossible nation into an institutionalized monarchy, meaning the king is in the
center of the culture, kingdom and nation. However, after Colbert and Queen died, Louis
XIV reign was beginning to decline because he could not cope being the central figure of
Louis brought the edict of Nantes (document that gives religious freedom in France)
and this resulted in the exodus of hundreds of thousands of French citizens, and they
went to France’s enemies.
At the same time, Dutch and English were proving to be better at sea, which took
away from French sea trade.
No French minister had Colbert’s ability, most people who Louis appointed sucked.
Louis foolishly decided that he would invade Germany. Although invasion was
successful, it made the rest of Europe realize how dangerous Louis XIV was. Thus,
the Grand Alliance was created to put Louis XIV down and this resulted in a lot of
money and lives lost.
- Absolutism destroyed the powers of everyone outside the crown. All of the authorities
that should have checked the royal power were weakened. They were reduced militarily
and socially. The nobles were brought down to nothing.
The Scientific Revolution
-Before, the Bible was seen as ultimate answer. Now, belief systems are challenged. -Scientific Revolution is a precursor to the Enlightenment.
- The enlightenment did not come full blown from the minds of geniuses; there was a set
It was a true revolution, one that shifted the balance between man and nature, and
established purely empirical method to study events and phenomenon.
Two great initiators of this were Bacon and Descartes. Both ask see the deductive
method at the time as flawed and questioned, “how do we know anything for sure?”
The conclusion of what was seen to be true in divine books came into question.
Anselm’s ontological argument – god is greater than anything we can imagine, it is
better to exist than not to exist, conclusion – god must exist.
Descartes and Bacon were right in knowing that this was backwards, that knowledge
should be the work of logic and reasoning, and not as a first premise.
This method required thinkers to rethink the way they thought, to look at the universe
without any preconceptions, then you can move using reason and observation to find
what was true.
This knowledge of the past had to be reevaluated to incorrect thinking to achieve
Galileo Galilei -Believed in a scientific method and first to practice modern science.
- Invented the telescope and his use of this apparatus has changed our relationship
between the universe and us.
- Published a book through the observations through his telescope such as Jupiter has
moons, and the surface our moon was not perfect. These observations challenged the
theological ideas people were conditioned to.
-In the The Starry Messenger & the Assayer, Galileo believed that the sun is the center of
the universe, and all planets revolved around it. This not went against all religious texts
and ancient beliefs. As a result, the clergy identified him as a dangerous revolutionary
Galileo brought into Inquisition, and charged with heresy, and ordered not to teach
his methods to others.
Galileo then printed a book that proves beyond any doubt that the sun was the center
of the universe.
He is summoned back by the Inquisition and charged again for heresy.
At this point he could choose death or say that he was wrong.
- He was a thinker that believed only his own theories and believed only himself and if
he were to believe others they would have to prove it to him, which is unlike any other in
- Galileo was not alone, others were challenging the ideas that some things were true and
need not be verified and some things were not. This began systematic doubt. Don’t
believe anything that is true unless it is proved to be true.
- Monarchy and hierarchy was questioned.
Descartes- A mathematician and philosopher who believed that everything could be
figured out by systematic doubt. This solved the relationship of the subject and the object
of truth. Everything inside can be subjective while everything outside has to be objective. - Descartes discourses on methods challenged the rationality of people and began the
quantification of the Scientific Method. This became the starting point for all thinkers and
the instrument for extending knowledge independent of any authority.
Isaac Newton - Rejected Cartesian method as believes that mathematical observation
could solve problems.
- He established many of the basic laws that explain how the universe runs.
His interpretation reflects on how the universe is a perfect machine, one that can be
comprehensible if you understand how it works.
If you believe this, then here is no real need for a God. If there were a God then he
would only be the inventor of the machine, which is the world. Once the machine is
plugged in, God leaves it to run on its own.
- Newton’s contribution went well beyond any scientific knowledge, and it goes beyond
his mathematics and his physics.
John Locke - Was a thinker who not only believed in the rational equality of all humans,
but also rights that we cannot lose as humans that preserve our human dignity.
- John Locke applies ideas to epistemology – the science of knowing
When were born, our minds are in a Tabula Rasa and are filled by experience and
knowledge, and our reason takes the knowledge and experience and structures it so
we can appreciate the world. This is revolutionary because it gives the possibility of
making a person who would know the world inside out.
Giving people truth would be better for society because we can create a rational world
if we have rational truths.
- He began to write a book about politics and political theory – the second treatise of
government and it addresses Hobbes theory on the state of nature. Locke believes that
every human being is entitled to life, liberty and property.
The Early Enlightenmtht
-Changes swept 18 century Europe and people wanted Louis XIV’s regime to be
Montesquieu -The Spirit of the Law by Montesquieu argues that the government is the
consequence of the society he rules and God is not involved in this. The geography and
climate can influence one’s decision.
-All constitutions and laws can change the nature of people. This observation is
dangerous because it introduces social engineering.
- Society is pluralistic and should not have an absolute ruler. Instead, it should grow
naturally in its environment. Everything that is implemented should serve the society.
This is slam towards Richelieu and Louis XIV’s regime. He supports his argument by
comparing with England because England has the House of Lords and House of
Commons to control the king if he gets too powerful and the king would need permission
granted by the House of Commons if he needs money for army.
- Montesquieu realized that change should be slow and organic, not revolutionary. D. Diderot -Argues that freedom depended on freedom of speech because it allows
politics and public affairs to be debated so as to lead society to the right pa