Ideals of Liberty

The Marquis de Condorcet and John Stuart Mill were philosophers concerned with the idea of liberty and governments. Condorcet was a Frenchman writing during the time of the French revolution, undoubtedly inspired by the values of the revolution and the Enlightenment, putting reason above all else and valuing the progression of nations towards equality. He advocated for liberties that resembled the U.S. Bill of Rights, that is freedom of speech and press, abolition of torture, a simpler civil code and ensuring the security of innocent people.… Read the rest here

Modern Malthus; Are his ideas applicable to today?

In his essay titled Essay on Population by Thomas Malthus he talks a lot about the relationship between population and supply. He talks about the human relationship with the resources on the earth and states that there is not enough food to sustain mankind. He goes on to propose solutions in order to counter this problem that was anticipated in the 19th century when Enlightenment was at its peak. During this time, people started moving away from the church and began to put their faith in science and reason to guide their thought and outlook on the world.… Read the rest here

Progress Through Necessity

At the turn of the nineteenth century, most of Europe had become embroiled in the enlightened idea that society could progress nearly infinitely through the use of reason.  Writing in England in 1798, the Reverend Thomas R. Malthus proposed a view of economics centered on population patterns. His Essay on Population suggested a view on human progress tainted by inevitability. He established two constants: food is necessary for mans’ survival and reproduction from the union of the sexes is necessary for mans’ survival.… Read the rest here

A Call for Nationalism

During the Enlightenment period there was a surge of nationalism in regions where there had been little unity before. Johann Gottfried von Herder, a German philosopher, presents nationalism as a people who, as well as being bound together geographically, are culturally, linguistically, and historically linked1. In 1784, when Gottfried Von Herder published his work interpreting nationalism, Germany as we know it today was made up of many different small territories, the most prominent of these being Prussia.Read the rest here

The Fathers of the Russian Revolution

The Decembrist Revolt of 1825, although an immediate and clear failure, succeeded in setting the stage for later revolutionaries to topple the Russian autocracy. The Decembrists were a group of disgruntled, educated elite calling for the security of the individual in Russian society and the improvement of Russian administration, particularly in regards to the corrupt judiciary. Most of these men were young, some even adolescent, and their age showed in the uprising’s lack of organization. The three thousand men who formed in Senate Square assumed that their cause would attract other guard units who were angered and confused by the succession of Nicholas to the throne, but no additional mutineers rose up and Nicholas quashed the display without a problem.Read the rest here

An Enlightened Monarch

Catherine establishes many new reforms for establishing the bureaucracy as well as containing the power of the nobility. With the military commanders set up by Peter the Great removed after his death, Catherine establishes a new system for governing the massive expansion of land that is Russia. She appoints the leaders for these provinces, so they are loyal to her and thereby she centralizes her power. What makes these reforms Enlightened however are the responsibilities she gives to these governors, as well as the fact that she is writing all of these, taking an active role in her governance.… Read the rest here

The Wealth of Nations and Essay on Population

An Inquiry into the Nature and Cause of the Wealth of Nations

Author: Adam Smith. A pioneering economist who developed revolutionary concepts associated with free market economic theory. He argued that rational people, acting in their own self-interest, could create en efficient economic system. He studied in England but was of Scottish decent. He was influenced by the Scottish Enlightenment.

Context: The work was published in 1776. It was published during the beginning of the industrial revolution in response to the outdated economic ideas of the time.… Read the rest here

The French Political and Cultural Revolutions

****Response to Friday’s prompt that I was having issues posting
The transition from absolutism to enlightenment brought a new set of societal ideals that impacted both the political and social structure of France. By turning the hierarchical political system on its head, a significant cultural revolution was bound to accompany it.
Kant, in his analysis of enlightenment described it as man’s ability “to make use of understanding without direction from another” (Kant 1). This new emphasis on reason and self-reliance very directly confronts the old absolutist hierarchy, where everyone is reliant upon those higher in the social/political estate system.Read the rest here

Heads Would Roll, But That Wasn’t Enough

Just as Louis XIV  created symbols of his power as the absolute ruler of France, such as the palace of Versailles and even himself (he was the “Sun King” and claimed that he was the state/the state was him), so did the leaders of the French Revolution create their own symbols and culture in order to aid their overthrow of the monarchy and subsequent attempts to create a whole  new society.

In a pamphlet entitled What is the Third Estate?Read the rest here

Catherine II and Enlightenment Reforms

In Catherine’s Statute on Provincial Administration, she hoped to strengthen provincial governments and create a more efficient system than seen before. In the statute, there is a clear desire for a separation and distinction of powers between upper land courts and district courts, followed by a concern for those who are struggling, as evident in the Noble Wardship, which must house noble widows and children.  The Bureaus of Public Welfare’s concern for the establishment of public schools reflects the Enlightenment support of secular education as well.There is also evidence of gentry political participation as the town mayors and officials are elected by ballot every three years.… Read the rest here