2720 asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

how did enlightenment philosophers influence American history?

philosophers like : Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau, Montesquieu

influencing our founding fathers (adams, jefferson, etc)

3 Answers

Relevance
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Locke had one of the most important influences over Thomas Jefferson. The secular humanism espoused by Locke did indeed guide Jefferson in penning the Declaration of Independence, as well provided guidance in the authoring of the Constitution. It is distressing in these conservative reactionary times that Christian conservatives point to the values of our 'Christian' forefathers, Jefferson among them, as validation for their own conservative moralising. Claiming such moral heritage is dubious at best given all the great moral philosophers operating outside the bounds of Christian dogma which helped guide Jefferson in his political thought. Christians seem to forget that the institution of democracy was developed way before Christ walked this Earth. Its principles endure on their own merit. Jefferson understood this. Democracy cannot serve any other master.

  • kennyj
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    I really enjoyed the comments on Locke. I studied his works and the man while in university and was especially interested in his ideas on education . . . but back to the question. I think one of the great legacies regarding the Enlightenment thinkers is how they opened up the discussion on the importance of leadership and the role of the individual in a society. I have always been impressed with Rousseau's "Social Contract". For a society to function there must be rules and order, but there must also be many unwritten and unspoken connections between people that the majority of the population understands and accepts. The age old question . . . how can we balance the rights of the individual with the need for some form of collectivism. Has anyone read Charles Taylor's work on communitarianism?

  • 1 decade ago

    I just learned about this in my history class.

    They contributed ideas such as a strong central goverment, which caused many arguements. It also split the nation into 2 different parties; The federalist and the antifederalist. The federalist were for a strong central goverment, therefore in favor of a constitution. The anitfederalist were in favor of a goverment that was more ruled by the people that made up the country. They were against the constitution, but for the English Bill of Rights. They are the reason why we have our own section of rights in the constitution. They federalist also wanted to pay off the debt of the revolutionary war. Hamilton ultimatly decided to pay off the debt so they could gain trust in the citizens and other countries.

    I hope that helps. =]

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.