Why were the Enlightenment Philosophes so important? What did they all have in common with their individual beliefs? In the late 17th and 18th century was when philosophes were known. Thinkers called philosophes (“philosophers” in French) were hopeful that they might discover new ways to understand and improve society. The main idea of the philosopher was greater individual freedom. In Document A, John Locke stated that people could do anything for themselves if necessary. In Document B, Voltaire called for equality in religion, meaning everyone would be peaceful. In Document C, Adam Smith said that people should have their own rights or choices. This idea was a key part of their thinking in three areas: individual freedom, Individual freedom in religion, and economics.
Individual freedom was an important part of John Locke’s ideas on government.Locke is saying that all “…creatures of the same species and rank …should also be equal one amongst another without subordination or subjection lowering of position.… (Document A) He is saying that men can do anything, just the people can’t interfere with the laws of nature. The people are at liberty to provide for themselves. (Document A) He is saying if a government is falling, it’s the people’s responsibility to take care of it, and rebuild it. Freedom was the main idea of Locke’s thoughts about government because they have the right to leave their failed government if they have to. Also to show that people are strong enough to fix their own problems.
Individual freedom in religion was also an important part of Voltaire’s ideas. “…And the Christian transact together as tho’ they all professed the same religion….” (Document B) Voltaire is saying that all Royal Exchange, all people of all religions came come together in peace. There are lots of different religions, and they live in peace. It can be argued that individual freedom was the main idea in Voltaire’s discussion of religion because people of all religions should always be equal and the people should be able to make their own decisions.
Economics was also an important part of Adam Smith’s ideas on economics. Adam Smith discusses the importance of individual freedom as it regards economics when he writes “Every man … is left perfectly free to pursue his own interest in his own way….” (Document C) It can be argued that individual freedom was the main idea in Adam Smith’s discussion of economics because he’s saying people should be able to do tasks for themselves. This is related to the other philosophers’ ideas about equality and peoples indolence.
Although the philosophes of the 18th century had other important ideas like individual freedom, Individual freedom in religion, and economics, there was one main idea that stood out. That idea was having individual freedom meaning we would have choices, we could improve our government.