Enlightenment Thinkers Essay, Research Paper
Do you agree with the Enlightenment thinkers such as Ben Franklin that humans are basically good?
The Scientific Revolution had led people looking for laws governing human behavior. The ideas of the Scientific Revolution paved the way for a new period called the Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason. This period took place in the eighteenth- century. This was the philosophical movement that emphasized the pursuit of knowledge through reason and refused to accept ideas on the strength of religion or tradition alone. Thinkers and philosophers of the time included, Ben Franklin, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and many more. The belief that appealed to most political figures of the time, was deism. Deism was the belief that God created the universe in such a way that no divine intervention was necessary for its continued operation. Most thinkers of the time believed that humans were basically good. In today s life it is noticeable that this believe does not apply to all, hardly to any. Although it is also not fair to say that all humans are sinners.
Thomas Hobbes, an English philosopher of the 1600 s, tried to create a science of politics. After witnessing the horrors of the English Civil War, Hobbes decided that conflict was part of human nature. Without governments to keep order, Hobbes said, there would be war of everyone against everyone . In this state of nature life would be nasty, brutish, and short. In his book Leviathan, Hobbes argued that to escape such a bleak life, people gave up their rights to a strong ruler. In exchange, they gained law and order. Hobbes called this agreement, by which people created a government, the social contract. Hobbes basically saw people as naturally selfish and violent.
John Locke was another philosopher of the Enlightenment. He viewed human nature very differently from Hobbes. Locke said a person is not born good or evil. Rather he said, people s characters are shaped by their experiences. Locke felt people could learn from experience and improve themselves, which led him to believe in self-governing. According to Locke, all people are born free and equal, with three natural rights- life, liberty and property. He believed that the purpose of a government of is to protect these rights and if they fail the people would have the power to overthrow them. This idea is still standing today.
The key thinkers of the Enlightenment had very definite views on the ideal government. They all admired the English system, with its limitations on royal power. However only a few of them, notably, Locke and Rousseau, believed that people were capable of governing themselves. The others hardly had trust in humans. I find that John Locke is the most agreeable. He believes that neither humans were evil or good. The only difference is that I believe people do fall in certain categories individually. One can be good while the other standing next to him can be the total opposite, they can be evil.