Locke In The Enlightenment Essay, Research Paper
Throughout the English revolution of 1688, and just after the establishment of the freedom of the press in 1694, the conditions were perfect for a development of a new understanding of knowledge. John Locke, who, in the field of theology, found his starting point, like most prominent thinkers of the age, in the conflict of systems, beliefs, and practices. Out of his reflections on the known facts of experience, he developed new abstract and ethical ideas. In spite of his supernaturalist tendencies, Locke believed and taught that only reasonable demonstration of power and experience, not supposed obligation or kingly position, can establish the true leadership and power of an individual.
In the Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), Locke had investigated the understanding of revelation from the standpoint of the theory of the nature, sources, and limits of knowledge, and laid down the criteria by which the true revelation is to be distinguished from other beliefs which claim such authority. This meant that strict proof of something must be present, and however we were to understand the proof must be able to be backed up by both external and internal evidence, and its content must be shown to correspond with rational philosophy and ethics. In other words, Locke argued that everyone, not just those who were supposedly specially called by God , has a right to rise up and overthrow a tyrannical government.
Locke preached that revelation is revelation, but, after it is once given, it may be shown to be rational, which meant it had to be capable of being deduced from the premises of our reason. Only where this is possible is there a belief in favor of the purely mysterious parts of revelation. Where these criteria are disregarded the way is open to the excesses of religious groups and priesthoods by which religion, the difference of the reasoning man, has often made him appear less rational than the other radical thinkers. Locke advances therefore the remarkable conception of a revelation that reveals only the reasonable and the universally perceivable. He then writes a thesis about Reasonableness of Christianity as Delivered in the Scriptures (1695), which is his attempt to end the religious conflict through the recovery of the truths of the primitive, rational Christianity.
All of these revolutionary ideas and understandings about people and society that John Locke was discovering were a huge part of the Enlightenment, and ended up being one of the main causes of the French and English Revolution. Locke explained and taught to the people many newly discovered and comprehended social issues. He helped the general public understand the contract between a government and its people. Locke concluded and explained, that the citizens of a country enter into a “social contract” with their government, and the purpose of this government is to protect the rights of the people by establishing laws. Additionally, He believed and taught that a government which derives its power from the people would make just laws which would promote the improvement of its citizens.
All of these new ideas and teachings produced a very remarkable change in man, by substituting law for instinct in his conduct, and giving his actions the morality that had formerly lacked. Although, in this state, society deprives itself of some advantages which it had from nature, but it gains in return others so great, its abilities are so greatly enhanced and developed, and ideas so extended, and its whole soul so uplifted, which made society begin to change its way of thinking. It was these revolutionary ideas of Locke, along with other philosophers at that time, that would eventually lead to the change in thought process, and the French Revolution, toward the end of the eighteenth century.
2. Describe the accomplishments of the moderate phase of the French Revolution (from May 1789 to September 1792).
There are basically five main accomplishments of the moderate phase of the French Revolution. All of these events took place between May of 1789, and September of 1792. These five events include the Tennis Court Oath, the storming of the Bastille, the march to Versailles, the flight to Varennes, and finally the trial and execution of Louis XVI. All five of these events greatly impacted France and the French revolution in their own obvious ways.
It begin with the Tennis Court Oath. This happened when the Third Estate members were locked out of the Hotel des Menus on June 20, 1789. The king had canceled the royal session because his son died and he found out about the formation of the National Assembly, which put him in great mourning and distress. The reason the Estates General was going to meet on this day was because of the recent voting conflict between the Estates General that had put the estates in deadlock for days. The Third Estate desired a change in the voting in the Estates-General, from voting by order, which the First and Second Estates wanted, to voting by head. The Third Estate members immediately searched for an alternate shelter across the street in a nearby indoor tennis court to convene for their meeting. Inside the tennis court, Bailly, one of the main leaders of the Third Estate, stood on a table and voiced the ideas of Mounier, another leader. This proposal voiced by Bailly was that the Third Estate would not leave Versailles until there was a constitution which they agreed upon. This idea of Mounier’s was taken in favor of a more radical reform plan proposed by Sieyes. Of the 577 members, all but one accepted this oath. This oath, which would change Mother France forever, was known as the Tennis Court Oath.
The king then sent troops to regulate in Paris. These troops would soon, even though they didn’t know it, be part of the storming of the Bastille where several soldiers and Parisians would be killed and help promote the French Revolution. On July 14, 1789, the huge, bloodthirsty mob of soldiers marched to the Bastille, searching for gun powder and prisoners that had been taken by the unpopular and detested King, Louis XVI. Even elements of the newly formed National Guard were present at the assault. The rumors of attacks from the government and the bitter truth of starvation were just too much for the angry crowds. The Bastille had been prepared for over a week, anticipating about a hundred angry subjects. But nothing could have prepared the defenders for what they met that now famous day. Along the thick rock walls of the colossal fortress and between the towers were many defense guns that were capable of launching deadly shots at any who dared to attack. However, the enraged Paris community was too resistant and too brave to submit to the starvation and seeming injustice of their government.
That afternoon, a huge group of French guards and angry citizens tried to break into the fortress. There were over three hundred people ready to give their lives to put an end to their overtaxing and overbearing government. However the Bastille was threatened by more than the numerous crowds: three hundred guards had left their posts earlier that day, out of fear and from the rumors of a giant crazy mob coming to raid the fortress. The attackers easily broke into the arsenal. The vicious crowds shouted for them to lower the bridges, which were finally lowered, and all of the soldiers inside the Bastille were captured by the crowds and dragged through the filthy streets of Paris. Upon learning that the Bastille had been taken, King Louis XVI, who was residing at Versailles, was sure a revolution was coming, and unfortunately for him, the mob’s next plan was to march to Versailles, take him away with them.
Next, the march to Versailles, with its angry women and their threatening behavior, was one of many violent disturbances that occurred during the French Revolution. The march on Versailles’s main purpose was to obtain bread and force the price of bread down to where it had been unnecessarily raised. Versailles was known as a royal paradise, and many very important people lived there along with the King and his family. Bread was the main diet of the French people at this time. In fact, working people back in the revolutionary days spent around half of their wages to buy bread for food. This incident showed exactly how much bread meant to the people in Paris. The women got to the Hotel de Ville where they numbered around 6,000, while the men were encouraging the women to perform the march. The King was scared and overwhelmed by the angry groups of people that stood before him. Since the national assembly had most of the power in the country of France and the king now had very little, he gave in to the women’s demands. He then told the women that he would have all of the bread in Versailles ordered out to them. But more than bread arrived in Paris. The King decided to move his court to Paris was well, a decision that would have terrible consequences for him as the revolution unfolded.
The King and his family were growing increasingly uncomfortable with life in Paris, so on the night of June 20, 1791, the royal family was in a flea for the edge of Paris. But they would eventually be recognized at a town called Sainte-Menehould. The royal family stopped to wait for the cavalry escort, which unfortunately arrived three hours late. The people of Sainte-Menehould knew they had to do something about the King and his family, so they quickly sent for the National Guard. When they arrived, they took the King and his family back to Paris with them, almost as if they were prisoners. With increasing distrust for Louis XVI, the people became more and more confident that his power couldn’t be regained. The next set of events came when France declared war on Austria. Marie Antionette began giving away France’s strategic plans to Austria. She did this in hopes that Austria would win the war and destroy the revolutionaries as well. When the people found this out, they were enraged. They imprisoned Mary for her duplicity during the war, and imprisoned Louis for his tyranny during peacetime. In the end, they were both put to death.
On December 11, 1792 King Louis XVI was brought to trial in front of the National Convention. The King was charged with conspiring against the nation. With all of the obvious evidence that the people had charged against him, the convention agreed that Louis XVI, King of France, was guilty of conspiring against the people of France and sentenced him to death by guillotine on January 21,1793. His last words, “I die innocent. I pardon my enemies and I hope that my blood will be useful to the French, that it will appease God’s anger….” were cut off by the roll of drums. Then the executioner strapped him down and pulled the rope. Louis’ head fell off into a basket. The executioner picked up the head to the shouts coming from the crowd of “Vive la Nation! Vive la R publique! After the execution of King Louis XVI, the French nation continued to struggle. In January, 1793 the revolutionary government declared war on Britain, a war for world dominion which would continue for another twenty years. Meanwhile a counterrevolution in France erupted, and the Paris community continued to pressure the new government for more radical change. Obviously the French Revolution was not over, but it had greatly been affected by all five of these extremely important events of the moderate phase of the revolution.