John Locke, René Descartes, and David Hume were all thinkers who changed the way people thought about government, economy, and society.
René Descartes was an extremely influential philosopher, whose theories about the notion of reason and human intelligence influenced John Locke’s theories. For example, Descartes is particularly famous for observing, “I think, therefore I am.” In this simple statement, Descartes proved human existence.
One of John Locke’s most influential writings were his Two Treatises of Government. In this text, he discusses the importance of government’s role in a social contract, a concept that laid the foundation for the notion of a constitutional government.
David Hume is also famous for a treatise, known as A Treatise of Human Nature. In this, work Hume philosophized about what influences human behavior, arguing that passion plays more of a role than reason. Hume was also famous for his thoughts on economics, and like Locke influenced common understandings of governance, Hume arguments against mercantilism were foundational to contemporary capitalist economics.
These three thinkers primarily communicated their ideas through rhetoric and writing, as there were not electronic forms of communication in their time. They also made deliberate choices regarding what language to write in. For example, Descartes originally wrote “I think, therefore I am” in French instead of Latin to reach more readers.