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How is America's government actually based on the mistake of one of the Enlightenment...

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megan-westerf... | Salutatorian

Posted May 15, 2012 at 9:57 PM via web

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How is America's government actually based on the mistake of one of the Enlightenment thinkers?

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lhc | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted June 6, 2012 at 8:54 PM (Answer #1)

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It seems that the writer of this question is seeking a specific person's mistake, so I would suggest a couple of possibilities.  The Englishman John Locke, in his Two Treatises on Government, wrote that all men are rational and capable, but must submit some of their wishes to the will of the majority in forming a people's government.  While this is a nice idea, and makes some sense, many would argue against the assumption that every person in a society is rational and capable.  The true, and perhaps unfortunate state of human beings is that not everyone is rational or capable.  John Locke could be introduced to a whole lot of people who are capable of reproducing but not of rationality.  Baron de Montesquieu, a Frenchman who followed up on Locke's work in his book The Spirit of Laws, explored the idea of separation of powers, but not wanting to stop there, he also came up with the unusual idea that the type of government a country has should be determined by its climate. 

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