Enlightenment Of 18th Century
enlightenment was a great time of change in both Europe and America. Some of the
biggest changes, however, happened in the minds of many and in the writings of
many philosophers. These included some of the beliefs of David Hume, Jean

Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, and Francois Voltaire. Writers during this time
focused on optimism, which is the opinion to do everything for the best (Chaney

119), and the best for these philosophers was to stretch the minds of the
ordinary. David Hume was Scottish and was born on April 26, 1711 and died in

1776. He states that he was not born into a rich family and was born into the

Calvinist Presbyterian Church. However, after being influenced by the works of

Isaac Newton and John Locke he began to draw back from the Church. He writes in

Enquiry, "The idea of God, as meaning an infinitely intelligent, wise and
good Being, arises from reflecting on the operations of our own mind, and
augmenting, without limit, those qualities of goodness and wisdom." (Pomerleau

214) The questions he brought up against religion were that concrete experiences
must lead us and that we must think about the quality of the stories that were
handed down to us. He wanted everyone to only believe the actions that one
experienced, there has to be proof. He also believed that there were four basic
problems to the stories that we hear. First of all, the facts to the stories are
never the same to everyone. Second, we stretch the truth to make everything
interesting. Third, people who do not understand these stories tend to make
things up. Finally, not all of the religions agree. Therefore, the stories
conflicted each other leaving a person to not know what to believe. He believes
that "Our most holy religion is founded on Faith, not on reason; and it is
a sure method of exposing it to put it to such a trial as it is, by no means,
fitted to endure." (215) Hume also believed in the social contract. This is
that kings are in power because of luck and citizens should have control over
their own power. During Hume\'s lifetime a representative government was not
something that countries thrived on. He also thought that the duties of men were
to love children and to pity those that are less fortunate. He also thought that
one should respect other\'s properties and keep our promises. Hume argued that we
are born into our family with the knowledge passed on to us, from this point

Hume says that government is only an interference in the lives of people. He
uses the example of American Tribes where no one needs a government to keep
peace within the group (Pomerleau 222). These are the two main points that Hume
tried to make. They are the basis of what got people to think about their lives
and decide that what they have now might not be the best thing that their life
can accomplish. From his points of view, we can move on to another influential
philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau. Jean Jacques Rousseau was born in Geneva in

1712. His first years in his life were very hard because his mother died shortly
after birth and he was sent to live with his aunt. However, his life turned
around and he married and began his life as a philosopher. Rousseau was involved
with the social contract like Hume. His book, however, did not become popular
until after the French Revolution because these were the conditions that the
revolution was based on (Chambers 669). His ideal government would contain a
small state, prevention of overpowering businesses, and equality in rank and
fortune (Castell 419). He distrusted the aristocrats because he believed they
were drawing away from traditions that were once held very high ("The

Enlightenment," http). To him kings are just concerned with themselves and
when one dies, another one is needed. None of these people ever take in to
consideration the less fortunate. Everyone has to move to the beliefs of one
man. Rousseau felt that the government should be in the hands of many, not just
one. Ideally, everyone in a society needs to be in agreement with one another.

Another belief that Rousseau represented was deism, which is that god created
the universe and then allowed it to run according to natural law and not
interfering with it anymore. Again, these questions began to be disputed and the
people began to realize that their lives could mean more than just what the
higher officials might say.