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Age of Reason

Scientific Rev. convinced many thinkers about power of reason, reason began to be viewed as the best way to understand the truth

Baron de Montesquieu

French philosopher, argued for separation of powers, admired Great Britain's gov., system of checks and balances

Galileo Galilei

Italian astronomer, mathematician and physicist, discovered law of motion of falling objects, conflicted with Roman Catholic Church

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

believed that people were born good, argued that individuals should give up some freedoms for benefit of community, despised inequality

John Locke

English philosopher believed people were naturally happy and tolerant and born equal, thought purpose of government was to protect people's natural rights, believed if gov. failed to protect natural rights, ppl had rights to overthrow them, ideas became foundation for modern democracy

Nicolaus Copernicus

Polish astronomer, proposed heliocentric (sun-centered) theory of universe

Scientific method

method of inquiry that promotes observing, measuring, explaining and verifying as a way to gain scientific knowledge

Scientific Revolution

1500-1600s, transformation in European thought that called for scientific observation, experimentation and questioning of traditional opinions

Separation of Powers

distribution of political power among the branches of government, giving each branch a particular set of responsibilities

Social Contract

an agreement between a people and their government, people would give up some of their freedom and in return, the government would provide them with peace, security, and order

Thomas Hobbes

English thinker, from experience in civil war, he believed people were greedy and selfish and needed governments to impose order, argued for social contract, wrote Leviathan - a massive sea monster


French philosopher, attacked injustice wherever he saw it, created enemies and was imprisoned and exiled

*Laissez faire

business system where companies are allowed to conduct business without government interference

Economic, scientific, political ideas

•Ability to reason is what makes humans unique
•Reason can solve problems/improve lives
•Reason can free people from ignorance, superstition and unfair government
•Natural world is governed by laws that can be discovered through reason
•Human behavior is governed by natural laws
•Governments should reflect natural laws and encourage education and debate

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