Enlightenment Viewpoints of Locke and Frederick II

Amongst other ideas, the Enlightenment focused on the role of developing the individual apart from the structured of society of the past. Not only does this include the leadership, but in addition the ways to implement a civil society. Both John Locke and Frederick II suggested ideas for monarchy reform in order to instate individual freedoms for the people. In the case of Locke, he contradicted the concept of patriarchalism, which defends the absolute power of the monarchy. Similarly along the ideas of reforming leadership, Frederick the Great established the necessity for a ruler to consider himself as “men like the least of their subjects” and to understand “the character of the people” he governs. More than just his writings, he is considered one of the first enlightened absolutists because of his reforms to the Prussian governing system: non- nobles could be judges and tolerance (religiously and in terms of press) was commonplace. His civil society meant a union between the leaders and their subjects, where the sovereign sets the positive, moral example for the state to follow. Locke’s own perspective of civilized society meant focusing on natural rights of people that were undeniable and universal; and protecting those rights through social contract theory by submitting few freedoms to the ruler to protect the rest. In addition he searched for individual rights, and questioned the authority of states over individuals. The Enlightenment proved to be a time for people to question the way that their individual rights were protected, forcing them to simultaneously questioned the powers that governed them.