Question by whoathere44: How did the Enlightenment affect the Declaration of Independence?
Also, what was the Enlightenment and what philosophies came from it. Thanks, and I will pick a best answer if there is one.

Best answer:

Answer by Birah
The Enlightenment was a way of thinking about things and an attitude toward man and how he interacted with his world. It wasn’t so much of a movement to gather others to join it as a group of thinkers that based their basic ideas and beliefs on reason.

Jefferson took two of the main ideas of Enlightenment thinker John Locke as a guide in the Declaration of Independence. He stated that “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” This is not a direct interpretation of Locke because Locke had stated that the third “natural law” should be the right to property. Even though, you can see that the influence is there.

The other major influence is the idea of the declaration as a whole. The colonies were telling the king that they were in charge. They believed that the people were the true power of a government and had given up individual rights for the common good of all the citizens of a nation. By doing so they gave the governing over to their leaders. They felt that since they had given up their rights/power that it was also their prerogative to take this power back and choose a new government or leadership.

This idea is the basic Social Contract theory, also theorized by Locke. He felt that when people were unhappy with the issues and attitudes of a government it was their right and daresay, their responsibility, to change the government.

Other Enlightenment thinkers had ideas on Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances in governments and how to best represent the masses with a Representative Democracy. I am certain you can find many ideas and theories by doing a quick search on The Enlightenment, Rousseau, Montesquieu Locke or Voltaire. All of their ideas have in part led to the foundation and creation of our government.

I hope this helps 🙂

Add your own answer in the comments!

Powered by Yahoo! Answers