The Impact of John Locke and Age of Enlightenment Thinkers on American Culture and Philosophy

The Impact of John Locke and Age of Enlightenment Thinkers on American Culture and Philosophy

Introduction

The principles of enlightenment held a primary impact on colonials and the American founding fathers utilized most of these thoughts in their governance. Several major components of democracy like the power separation, checks and balances were derived from enlightenment writers such as Locke, Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, and Hobbes[1]. It is worth noting that Thomas Jefferson’s popular phrase in regard to life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness was acquired from Locke’s phrase of life, freedom, and material[2]. The developers of the American constitution were highly driven by the past and progressing events in Europe during the enlightenment period. In other words, the American founding documents which include the constitution, the declaration of independence, the bill of rights in addition to other documents written during the 18th-century platforms the traditional and philosophical base on which the country was developed and which is still depended upon in shaping the society[3]. John Locke and the enlightenment thinker’s ideas had a fundamental effect on the philosophical foundation of the United States revolution.

John Locke and the enlightenment thinkers impacted the American society by creating a more firm foundation that values individual’s rights, equality and pursues progress[4]. The enlightenment thinkers was a primary influence in regard to the political thoughts of the colonists who were involved in pushing for independence and individual’s freedom. This idea resulted in the American Revolution. To begin with, several ideas that resulted in this change. One of the primary ideas by Locke asserted that individuals should be governed based on reasons rather than conventions[5]. John and other enlightenment thinkers such as Thomas Jefferson, they did not see any rationale as to why kings were allowed to rule and exercise control over the public rather than permitting people to govern themselves. They held the belief that a logical system is one which the government is in existence based on the permission given by individuals which refers to democracy[6].  It is from such points that the revolution leaders took most of the politicized philosophies to fight for democracy.

John Locke is popular for asserting that every human is entitled to certain freedoms that are not handed to them by decree or society[7]. He asserted that rights such as liberty, life, and privacy are natural rights and should thus not be controlled. According to Locke and Rousseau when the governing administration fails to guard the public’s natural privileges or fulfill the most suitable interest of the society known as the general will then its citizens can directly withdraw their responsibilities of obeying or transform that leadership via elections or being disobedient to the administration which is known as the social contract[8]. Based on this Philosophy an individual’s moral and partisan responsibilities are reliant upon an agreement which plays part in creating a society and thus if the agreement is broken then they are not obligated to being accountable. In addition, Locke also contended that if the country’s governance failed to guard individual’s privileges then they are obligated to withdraw which is bound to bring revolution. In the context of rationality, these enlightenment thoughts are backed up by rationale which differs from the past period which was more reliant on supernatural and spiritual powers.

Essentially, the philosophical foundation in regard to revolution is based on enlightenment thoughts regarding natural rights and the social contract. Given that the colonist believed that the British administration had damaged their natural privileges they operated on the belief that part of the contract had already been infringed. The American colonist was, therefore, guided by the assumption that since the British administration breached this agreement they had no right of reigning them and that is the reason that led to their revolting[9]. The enlightenment additionally influenced the seconding administration after the revolution was won. The logic of the enlightenment thinkers was utilized as the primary authors of the constitution. In regard to the Social contract, Hobbes and Locke agreed that the objective of creating a government was to guard the rights of those being ruled but differed on the intention. While Hobbes proposed that after forming the government certain rights are to be surrendered to guard the society against any attack Locke via his two treaties regarding civil governance objected this notion. Locke contended against heavenly rights and total monarchy[10]. Secondly, he noted that everyone is created with specific natural privileges that include freedom, life, and assets. He emphasized that a government is created for rights to be guarded and if the administration fails them the agreement can be abolished or modified.

There are a number of enlightenment principles within the declaration of independence[11]. One of the primary thought that everyone is entitled to specific privileges only for working for them but for being human. An additional one is a primary notion that the legitimacy of any government is acquired with the permission of those being ruled. More so, it includes the enlightenment thought that the primary objective of any administration is to guard individual’s privileges. The American Revolution is characterized by a number of advantages as well as cons. To begin with, it resulted in American independence a free nation from the control of Britain and all its states were able to work collaboratively and exercise independence. Slavery was abolished, unity created, constitution and the development of American nationalism[12]. American became united to fight against the ruling which was unjust thus sharing a common goal of winning which brought about unity and significant changes socially[13]. However, the win came with economic recession due to the loss of resources and finances and also because commercial operations were affected. The two nations also became more divided due to the war.

Locke became among the most powerful philosophers on the contemporary era. In both of his treaties, he guarded the argument that all people are equal and free naturally in opposition to the claim that God created everyone to be a subject to Monarch[14]. In regard to the state of nature, Locke offered a more defense idea by stating that certain privileges are not offered by the government and should be guarded[15]. He also asserted that individuals should be allowed to govern themselves which would be associated with higher security and wellness by focusing on the own wills and desires. Locke along with other enlightenment thinkers such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Thomas Paine republicanism is a form of tyranny that violates individual’s rights[16].

Conclusion

It is apparent that the enlightenment thinkers led by John Locke had a significant impact on the American philosophy and culture. In that, the fight for democracy that emphasizes that every individual in the country is entitled to equal privileges was mainly influenced by Locke’s philosophy that everyone was born equal regardless of their status. It is on such ideas of natural rights and social contract that revolution emerged. The significance of enlightenment ideas in regard to a cultural and socio-economic revolution of humankind is not to be doubted as even the most important documents such as the constitution and declaration are driven by these ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Work Cited

Arneil, Barbara. John Locke and America: The Defence of English Colonialism. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1996. Print.

Chapter 1- Common sense: on the origin and design of government in general with concise remarks on the English constitution.

Erckel, Sebastian. Classical Social Contract Theory The Classical Social Contract Theories of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau Compared. 2009. München: GRIN Verlag GmbH. http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:101:1-2010090240048.

Garry Willis. The Negro’s president: Jefferson and I love power. Houghton Mifflin.

 

 

 

 

[1] Garry Willis. The Negro’s president: Jefferson and I love power. Houghton Mifflin

[2] Arneil, Barbara. John Locke and America: The Defence of English Colonialism. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1996.

[3] Garry Willis. The Negro’s president: Jefferson and I love power. Houghton Mifflin

[4] Erckel, Sebastian. Classical Social Contract Theory The Classical Social Contract Theories of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau Compared. 2009. München

[5] Erckel, Sebastian. Classical Social Contract Theory The Classical Social Contract Theories of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau Compared. 2009. München

[6] Arneil, Barbara. John Locke and America: The Defence of English Colonialism. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1996.

[7] Garry Willis. The Negro’s president: Jefferson and I love power. Houghton Mifflin

[8] Chapter 1- Common sense: on the origin and design of government in general with concise remarks on the English constitution

[9] Chapter 1- Common sense: on the origin and design of government in general with concise remarks on the English constitution

[10] Erckel, Sebastian. Classical Social Contract Theory The Classical Social Contract Theories of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau Compared. 2009. München

[11] Garry Willis. The Negro’s president: Jefferson and I love power. Houghton Mifflin

[12] Arneil, Barbara. John Locke and America: The Defence of English Colonialism. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1996.

[13] Garry Willis. The Negro’s president: Jefferson and I love power. Houghton Mifflin

[14] Garry Willis. The Negro’s president: Jefferson and I love power. Houghton Mifflin

[15] Erckel, Sebastian. Classical Social Contract Theory The Classical Social Contract Theories of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau Compared. 2009. München

[16] Chapter 1- Common sense: on the origin and design of government in general with concise remarks on the English constitution

1533 Words  5 Pages

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