Modern World History 2.5 The Enlightenment

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Transcript

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there was so much thinking to do. Okay yeah we're not the best at jokes. Sue us.

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That's what seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in Western Europe were all [Statues of Rousseau and voltaire appear]

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about: thinking, thinking, and then thinking some more. The Enlightenment got

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it's thoughtful foundations from some gentlemen who lived during the 1600s. Sir

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Francis Bacon is credited with the scientific method, though why he didn't study

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his namesake, well, we'll never know. René Descartes is considered to be both the

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father of modern philosophy and of analytical geometry. We bet those twins [Twins crying in a cot]

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really kept him up at night. And while John Locke's writings serve as the

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philosophical underpinning of America's Declaration of Independence, he's also

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famous for promoting the idea that the mind is a tabula rasa, or blank slate, at

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birth. It's also pretty rasa during any late afternoon class, or is it more like a [Boy sleeping in class]

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tabula nap-a. The ideas of these philosophers and others like them were

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taken up in the 18th century to support the belief that human society is always

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chugging along and getting better. Progress didn't stop with the Romans and

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the Greeks the way some people in the 1700s believed. After all, did the Greeks and

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Romans have Nutella? We don't think so. But it wasn't just delightful [Boy with a plate of nutella outside Greek building]

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hazelnut goodness that led folks in the 18th century to believe that each new

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generation of humanity would make society better than it had before.

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Education there helped as well. As men and women became more literate and less ignorant, [Woman reading a book]

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they stopped believing in witches and worrying about the devil so much, much to

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the concern of the devil's PR team. France was the HQ of the Age of

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Enlightenment. Philosophers, or French intellectuals--you know, many of whom were

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broke--spent their days talking about philosophy and literature. When the

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government got edgy about all the critiquing these philosophers were doing

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and tried to enact censorship laws, well the French just started speaking and [French philosophers in a meeting]

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writing satirically and, well, never stopped. But the philosophers, or "philosophes,"

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didn't just focus on using humor to ridicule those in charge. They also

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talked about all the stuff that was wrong in society, much of which they

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believed could be blamed on the terribleness of the class system. Well,

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to philosophes who did a lot to transform all this smack-talking into [Statue of liberty appears]

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ideas that underpin modern democracy were Montesquieu and Rousseau. Montesquieu, who

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was a nobleman and a lawyer, articulated the theory that the power in a

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government should be distributed between its different branches. He also talked a

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lot about despots... Hey, everyone has their own weird hobby. Well, Rousseau [Despot appears in a field]

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wrote novels, music, tracts on education, and "The Social Contract." The dude was

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busy. Well, "The Social Contract" argued that if people would join together as

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members of a civil society and submit themselves to the will of the whole, then

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individuals would be free of the tyranny of others and would have a shot at

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writing laws they could live with. In other words, go read the book: it's kind [The Social Contract book appears]

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of a big deal. By the end of the Age of Enlightenment, enlightened people

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everywhere believed that, hey, not only could they run this whole government

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thing, but they had a right to govern themselves. Additionally, all the white

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guys in power started to think that maybe they could see themselves being

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equal to other white guys of different face or social classes... that's progress,

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right? Finally, the Age of Enlightenment got people to buy into the concept that

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a sound government, no matter what flavor that sound government came in, was the [Boy with multiple flavored ice cream]

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surest guarantor of life, liberty, and the pursuit of Pokémon. We personally hope

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the sound government comes in mint chocolate.