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1. According to your Textbook and Sourcebook (please do not use other sources, as there are many interpretations of the Enlightenment) what were some of the basic principles of the 18th century Enlightenment? Please write specifically about the importance of REASON and PROGRESS to the 18th century philosophers.
Based on the Enlightenment lecture video, key idea of the enlightenment was the idea of progress, believing in the potential goodness of the individual and worldly existing as the true purpose of life. The philosopher believe it was possible to create better societies and better people by using reason to discover the laws of human society. Progress for the enlightenment meant intellectual progress, but this to make possible economic, social and political progress which will lend to obtain of happiness. To obtain this goal wanted a free society. They wrote against legal injustice, class, class and inequality in law, imprisonment, intolerance, slavery, torture of prisoners, prison conditions etc.
2. In what ways did the Enlightenment thinkers want to change people and the societies they lived in? Bring examples from Kant (on the importance of reason), Rousseau (foundations of government) and Beccaria (reform of the legal and penal system).
Beccaria was very focused on philosophical, economic and political ideas like criminology and economy. He disagreed with barbaric practices like the use of torture and secret proceedings, the caprice and corruption of magistrates, and brutal and degrading punishments. He thought penalties should be measured according to the importance of the offense. Beccaria’s influence eventually went on to play a role in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. Lead to abolishment of the United States death penalty in some US states. Remembered as the father of the classical criminal theory. Death penalty and torture used with the intent of uncovering truth and exposing criminals. Beccaria says this is wrong and should be changed. Beccaria argues for the reform of the criminal justice system Beccaria once said, ” …torture is useless because the criminal’s confession is useless”. Beccaria emphasizes that the punishment must fit the crime.
The most influential Enlightenment thinker is Jean Jacques Rousseau because of the morality of his social contract theory, Rousseau had argued that society corrupted the individual by taking him out of nature. He aimed to show that the right kind of political order could make people truly moral and free. Individual moral freedom could be achieved only by learning to subject one’s individual interests to the general will, this the good of the community. Individuals did this by entering into social contract not with their rulers, but with one another. If everyone followed the general will, then all would be equally free and equally moral because they lived under a law to which they all consented. For Rousseau, the assumption that free individuals would willingly give up their freedom was based on faulty logic and such needed to be exposed to the light of reason.
Rousseau assumed that free individuals would willingly give up their freedom was based on faulty logic and such needed to be exposed to the light of reason. Rosseau took Locke doctrine conclusion and argue individual basic goodness has to be protected from the cruel refinement of civilization. He argued that education must shield the naturally unspoiled child from the corrupting influence civilization and too many books. According to Rosseau, children must develop naturally, spontaneously in their own speed and in their own way. The Social Contract was a book published in 1762. It brought up an important principle; that is, we sacrifice our natural rights to the government so society can be ruled in an orderly and smooth manner. The concept of the “general will” was introduced; rather than looking at the wills of individuals, society is looking at the will and interests of everyone (it is not a combination of wills gathered from each person).
We are born with natural rights, yet our rights are sacrificed to the Rousseau quickly formed an opinion and said that arts and sciences did not indeed restore a person’s goodness as well as the nation’s. We are born with natural rights, yet our rights are sacrificed to the general will and we become chained and restricted from individual benefits. Everyone in society is equal; there aren’t any class systems. All the rights and opportunities are given to all. The government are the only ones that controls for the benefit of the people. Rousseau would be for capital punishment. He is a utilitarian; any act that benefits society positively would be acknowledged and understandable by him. Laws should be generalized and apply to everyone idea of the Rule of Law. Believed humans are innocent and good until civilization corrupts them. To Rousseau, freedom is following the rules of the “general will” not something that one pleases to do.
Kant basis his entire argument on reason. Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so great a portion of mankind. The public use of one’s reason must always be free, and alone bring about enlightenment among men. The private use of reason, on the other hand, may often be restricted. Kant established the doctrine, the belief that true understanding can come from examining the ways in which ideas are formed in the mind.