John Lock, A Universal Thinker. Essay

1741 words - 7 pages

The Long-lived Universal Effects of an Enlightened ThinkerWritten By Heidi M. WilsonThe Enlightenment was a period of intense intellectual ferment that lasted from approximately AD 1650 to 1789. The Enlightenment was a turning point in history that ushered in the contemporary age. It was a period when Europe emerged from the middle ages and the Modern Mind was born. The Enlightenment had many short and long term causes seen not only in Europe where the Enlightenment originated but are seen even now in the present day United States. One very significant figure of the Enlightenment was John Locke. He was a highly respected English scholar whose ideas contributed an establishment to the foundation for the Enlightenment. John Locke's Enlightenment ideas have forever changed the meaning of government and where it is directly seen, in the current American government.The years before the Enlightenment were very important to the development to the ideas that inevitably would shape the world today. Before the Enlightenment was the time period called the Middle Ages. During this time religion was the focus of life and government at the time was base on feudalism. In the years leading up to it, and the early years of Enlightenment there were strong monarchs throughout Europe. These monarchs were justifying power by the divine right in which Kings claimed not just the right to rule, but to right to rule with absolute power. They backed this claim with the assertion that a king's power came from God. Preachers of the divine right said that monarchs are chosen by God and responsible only to him. To challenge the authority of the monarch in any way was a sin. Because of the divine right, kings were protected and common people were without any rights at all. What power people had was restricted to only wealthy noblemen. Another thing pre-Enlightenment was the lack of "say" that people had in the government. Many of the needs of the majority of people in a country were not concerns of the monarch. The monarch was ruling the country for everyone, and for themselves. One indirect result of both feudalism and medieval Christianity was a strengthening of the idea of liberty. The Middles Ages led to the revolution in understanding called "The Scientific Revolution" preceding the Enlightenment. This is a time were many of John Locke's ideas were formed and created from.The Scientific Revolution was a vital time period that led to the Enlightenment. Scientists made many important discoveries. One scientists, Sir Isaac Newton, scientific theories propelled the Enlightenment forward. Because Newton's laws dictated that the universe was an ordered place, people believed that the natural world worked on knowable principles. The thought if reason could yield facts about the universe then it could be used also to understand and solve humanity's social, economic, and political problems. So, inspired by Newton's ability to find underlying causes to the world of matter, a new...

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