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Enlightenment Essay

During the late 17th to 18th century there was a period known as the Enlightenment where there were many new controversial philosophical ideas on the government and politics. Some of the ideas that have come up are standard in our government and political practice in the present.

One of the great philosophers of the enlightenment period was Adam Smith and he wrote the great book of The Wealth Of Nations. Adam had ideas involving the econmony, which was that the economy was a self-correcting mechanism, which did not need to be regulated by the government. He wanted a capitalist system where business owners freely managed their own companies and workers could freely choose their pursuits. Adam had said that humans work better when they are striving for personal profits than when they are aiming for the public. Self-interest is a motivator, so capitalism would be able to flourish through individual efforts. In the time that Adam wrote the Wealth Of Nations many people felt that with the capitalist system Smith was promoting greed but he said that it was just a good way for individuals to strive to gain and maintain wealth. People liked his ideas on capitalism and the changes have had a significant influence on production and caused capitalism to flourish to western part of the world. Today the U.S. uses capitalism a lot and it plays a big part in the rest of the world and makes the nature of labor more efficient through division and more desirable through self-motivation.

John Locke was another good philosopher of his time he wrote the book Second Treatise Of Civil Government. Locke thought that people set up civil governments to protect life, liberty, and property, but he said that they are overstepping its proper function, which is to protect the natural rights. Natural rights are the rights basic to all men because all men have the ability to reason. An example of natural rights is under a tyranny people have the natural right to a rebellion. Locke was a great spokesperson for the liberal English revolution, this affected the colonial America a lot because America was a new country that was being formed and it was being controlled by England and the Americans wanted all there freedom. Another thing that happened because of Locke was that the people of England had no say in the government and the English revolution established a constitutional government. Today in America Natural rights is a huge part of the constitution and make America a better place because people have a lot of freedom and it all had to do with John Locke’s ideas of natural rights.

The last but not least great philosopher of the enlightenment period was Mary Wollstonecraft. Mary had some very controversial thoughts on women’s rights and she was especially critical of a society that encouraged women to be “docile and attentive to their looks to the exclusion of all else”. Mary also said the marriage was “ legal prostitution “ and said that women “ may be convenient slaves, but slavery will have its constant effect degrading the master and the abject dependent”. Mary thought that the rights of men and women were one in the same thing and should be treated equal in a time that they rejected the idea of female suffrage. In the time that Mary came out with these ideas many people just rejected the idea and thought that she was crazy saying stuff like that. Many men didn’t want to listen to it. Now today women are treated equal with men as far as voting and even as far as job salaries, I think that it is only going to get better for women in the future.

Of the three philosophers above I believe that the most important aspect of their ideas was John Locke’s idea of natural rights. I feel this way because if people where not free to do or think whatever they wanted no new ideas would be created and there would be to much control out there. John had the right idea when he said that these rights should just be there they should not have to be allowed they should not be on paper just your natural rights. The enlightenment period as a whole has helped and changed the way of life and many of the ideas are still used today and some of the ideas have been expanded to a new level.

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Enlightenment Essay
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Feb 27, 2010

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