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Week 3 :Discussion Thread 1
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Week 3 :Discussion Thread 1


Week 3 Enlightenment and RevolutionRead Chapters 18 and 19. Read and Discuss 18-1, 18-3, and 18-4; 19-2, 19-4, 19-5. 

During Week 3 (chapters 18 and 19) we will examine the High Enlightenment and its impact on politics. The dominant political events of this era, especially the French Revolution, will be the focal point of our study. Here's some mood music. It's a rousing marching song that will become the French National Anthem : 

Discussion Thread 1 ( 0 messages - 0 unread )The Promise of Enlightenment: Read and discuss 18-1, 18-3, and 18-4. Hide Full Description

Here we are at the High Enlightenment, which the textbook situates in the second half of the 18th century. The philosophes challenged putative truths and sought to understand the world without prejudice and without concern for tradition. Diderot's Encyclopedia epitomizes this type of investigation. It reflects how these thinkers, as Immanuel Kant put it, "dared to know." Some even put that knowledge into action (praxis=theory + action), like Voltaire, who championed the end of legal torture.

The philosophe who did the most to articulate a conception of democracy, was Jean Jacques Rousseau. In this reading, Rousseau re-evaluates the meaning of civilization--a term we've already considered in reading Montaigne. Does his view of civilization square with your own? Is a government designed to protect private property the primary source of inequality?

Also influential were the ideas of Cesare Beccaria. Like Voltaire he deplored torture and questioned its validity as a tool of governmental power and discipline. And, like Rousseau, he linked the use of torture to inequality. Do his ideas resonate today?

Perhaps Adam Smith needs no introduction? Some consider him the father of modern liberal economics in adopting the physiocrats' conception of laissez-faire. Although you've no doubt heard of Adam Smith, or at the very least, heard of liberal economics, you probably haven't read anything in his most famous work, The  Wealth of Nations. Now is your opportunity! Does it read quite as you imagined it would?

Document 18-1: Rethinking Modern Civilization

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality among Men (1753)

How does Rousseau describe the state of nature? In what ways does he think it contrasts to civil society as it developed over time?

Why does he think this contrast is important to understanding the foundations of government and its role in the origin of inequality among people?

Rousseau proposes that rather than being based on inequalities, governments should be established “as a true contract between the people and the leaders. ” What does he mean by “a true contract”? In what ways does he present it as a solution to contemporary society’s ills?

Document 18-3: Reforming the Law

Cesare Beccaria, On Crimes and Punishments (1764)

According to Beccaria, why is torture a customary practice?

Why doesn’t he agree with this practice? What is the basis of his reasoning? Do you find it convincing? Why or why not?

What similarities and/or differences do you see between Beccaria’s recommendations for reform and practices in contemporary criminal justice systems?

In what ways does Beccaria’s choice of language echo fundamental Enlightenment ideas?

Document 18-4: Reforming the Law

Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations(1776)

Why does Smith argue against the regulation of commerce? What evidence does he cite to support his argument?

Why does Smith think that allowing individuals to pursue economic gain freely is advantageous to society as a whole?

How does this excerpt support the view held by scholars that Smith helped to lay the theoretical foundations of modern capitalist society?

How does Smith reflect broader Enlightenment ideas?


Title: Week 3 :Discussion Thread 1
Length: 3 pages (825 Words)
Style: MLA


Week 3:Discussion Thread 1

Document 18-1: Rethinking Modern Civilization

  • How does Rousseau describe the state of nature? In what ways does he think it contrasts to civil society as it developed over time?

According to the book, “Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequalityamong Men,” by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, he asserts that nature is the causes of human inequality in the society. According to Rousseau, he asserts that nature can either be physical or natural.


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