Age Of Enlightenment

1210 Words5 Pages
The Age of Enlightenment has historically been affiliated with drastic skepticism and revolution in politics, philosophy, science, and communications, amongst other disciplines. In the early eighteenth century, people began to challenge the idea that rulers, spirits, and Catholicism were dominant over other ways of life. Although the Enlightenment primarily prevailed in parts of Europe in countries such as England and France, it was also crucial in determining several aspects of colonial America. The Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, two of the most fundamental documents of American law, are perhaps the crowning achievements of the Enlightenment. Specifically impacted by John Locke, Benedict Spinoza, and Gotthold Ephraim…show more content…
This role of government, both in protecting individuals’ rights and ordering civilian life, can be traced back to the ideas of Enlightenment thinkers Spinoza and Locke. In his work, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus, Spinoza defines individual “natural and civil rights” as the right and ability to control one’s own mind and preserve one’s well being . These natural rights parallel Jefferson’s “unalienable right” to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness1. Spinoza criticizes tyrannical government and claims “the most tyrannical government will be one where the individual is denied the freedom to express and to communicate with others what he thinks” . Even these small aspects of Spinoza’s work parallel the government’s role of protecting rights in both aforementioned American political documents. Moreover, Spinoza argues that the state should ensure the security of life, limb and property, and that the state is responsible for creating laws that men must follow . Likewise, in A Letter Concerning Toleration, Locke argues for a well-defined state that has a distinct secular responsibility: “to protect the public good” and ensure peace and security . He specifies that civil servants of civil government reach only to civil concerns. Locke’s arguments on the state’s role of ordering society are mirrored in the closing parts of the Declaration and parts of the Bill of Rights. While the American citizens claimed to have
Get Access