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What Enlightenment ideals were reflected in the French Revolution?

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gsstom | Student, College Freshman | Honors

Posted October 14, 2012 at 2:53 PM via web

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What Enlightenment ideals were reflected in the French Revolution?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 14, 2012 at 4:30 PM (Answer #1)

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Specific Enlightenment ideals can be seen in the French Revolution's most basic call for change.  The Enlightenment's conception of humanity was one in which there should be as little repression and limitations as possible.  Such an ideal made the call to rebel against the French monarchy understood.  The repression of the lower classes by those in the position of power flew in the face of Enlightenment ideals and understanding.  It is here where one of the most basic Enlightenment ideals was evident.  Linked to this is the Enlightenment ideal that individuals should be able to exercise power over their own political destinies.  Embedded in the works of Locke, Voltaire, and Rousseau was a demand and call for individuals to be able to possess some level of control over their own political destinies.  This was denied by the French monarchy, and helped to fuel the call for change.  This Enlightenment ideal was embraced by the French Revolution believers and advocates.  Finally, the scientific principle of equality and the notion that there is nothing rooted in rational thought that places one person over another is an Enlightenment ideal that found a home in the French Revolution.  The Enlightenment stressed the basic equality from a scientific point of view, arguing that superiority are human constructs not rooted in scientific analysis.  This becomes a major point of the French Revolution, a call for equality that was heard and understood by all as justifying the dismantling of a political order where inequality was embedded within it.

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