by Robert Siuta
The Enlightenment was a period that started in the 17th century and ended in the early 19th century that placed an emphasis on reasonable thinking, which expanded throughout a variety of different aspects of literature. These different facets ranged from philosophy, political science, and history. Nicknamed the “Age of Reason”, the Enlightenment generated a lot of important and influential writers, such as Rousseau,Voltaire, Kant, and Locke. The Enlightenment started in response to the rise of James II during the late 17th century, where many thinkers began to rethink different societal changes, as well as changes among the government. John Locke was one of the most prevalent philosophers to rethink the way that the government should be run. Along with other thinkers such as Thomas Hobbes, Locke’s opponent, they brought new ideas to politics that no one had thought of before.
John Locke was a big advocate for the separation of church and state, and the belief that religion should not be governing the people. What Locke is most notable for is his notion of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”, which influenced Thomas Jefferson enough to have it written in the Declaration of Independence. Jean-Jacques Rousseau was another revolutionary Enlightenment writer who often wrote about how a man is constantly bound by the restrictions placed upon him by his own government. Although he never explicitly stated any form of government that would be able to control this, his writings influenced many other Enlightenment thinkers to consider it. Collectively, these thinkers developed what is known today as democracy, a form of government that is run by the people, and for the people.
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