THE GREAT AWAKENING
THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
A GATHERING OF THE GREAT FRENCH PHILOSOPHERS
Faith and reason cannot exist together. Faith is not reasonable. The Human Mind wants an answer to something and seeks an answer
The French Enlightenment influenced the French Revolution. It also was a movement that challenged old ways of thinking and inspired new ideas as did the American Revolution. Other countries also had their own Enlightenments.
The Enlightenment was centered on a range of ideas. The supreme power of reason and the evidence of the senses was the primary sources of knowledge and advanced ideas; such as, liberty, progress, tolerating brotherly love and/or mutual respect, and the separation of church and state. Much of these thoughts are included in the Constitution of the United States.
The Enlightenment started in western Europe in the 1600s and continued into the 18th Century. It was driven when people desired social and political progress and had an intellectual curiosity and desire for change. It was a desire by the people to progress into thoughts going into further Spiritual reasoning and a better understanding of the human Soul and the natural world. Empiricists, or people who support the theory that all knowledge is based on the senses, therefore, became scientific thinkers. They believed or proposed that ideas originate from experience, however, all knowledge is not knowable through experience.
Before the “Enlightenment”, knowledge was mainly derived from religious teachings, suppositions or uncertain beliefs, and the history of ancient writers. It led to scientific thinking, inventions, and discoveries; such as, Galileo’s improved telescope that advanced astronomy, Benjamin Franklin’s experiments with electricity and battery power. The most famous experiment was his flying a kite in the middle of an electrical storm.
It was not the aim of philosophers to destroy past thinking of kings and governments. but they did not believe that political power had its beginnings from God. They believed that government was to guard the nation, protect the people, and secure their individual rights.
An Englishman, John Locke (1963-1704) believed in a strong government and monarchy. It was believed a monarchy was that every individual was born with three (3) inherent or inborn rights; that is, life, liberty, and property (not Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness). Some people refer to him as the “Dustbin of History”.
The Enlightenment of all of Europe differed in each country because each had their own conditions and grievances. In France, the movement began in the middle of the 1700s. The philosophers in France included Denis Diderot, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Guillaume-Thomas Raynal, Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron ;de Montesquieu, and Francois-Marie Arouet (Voltaire). They wee mostly concerned with how to understand and improve government and how to create a society based on reason, logic, and merit, Other well known philosophers were Francis Bacon, Rene Desarte, Edmond Hailey, William Herschel, Robert Hooks, and Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, They were notable in different fields, and they sought scientific explanations to natural phenomena. Before this, information had come from religious folklore and blind theorizing.
Previously, rulers claimed that political power was a divine responsibility and a gift given to rulers by God. The Catholic Church of Europe supported the notion of divine right by including it in church doctrine, because the power of kings and emperors came from God. It was beyond challenge. To engage in rebellion nor disloyalty against one’s king was to disobey the will of God.
The great grandfather of the doomed Louis XVI, King XIV (1638-1715) , was a significant exponent of his belief. Louis was a devoutly religious leader and worked to expand and strengthen the doctrine of divine right in France. That is, he supported divine right through religion and not scientific knowledge. The French Revolution was about new ideas.