The Enlightenment was the perhaps the biggest and most intellectual movements of the eighteenth century. The achievements of the Scientific Revolution had revealed the ability of the human mind to penetrate the secrets of the physical universe. These breakthroughs that had happened during the Scientific Revolution paved that way for other thinkers that dealt with the affairs of human beings and human society. They criticized the existing institutions of absolute monarchy and established church and proposed a broad range of reforms designed to eliminate abuses and to promote individual freedom.
While the Enlightenment was a broad international movement, many of its leading thinkers were French. The Enlightenment thinkers are known as “philosophes. The philosophes were not really philosophers at all, they worked to developed new ideas about government, economics, and religion and advanced proposals for the improvement of the human condition and the reform of society. The philosophes main themes were to basically perfect the human-race so that the church didn’t control as much education, as well as make it so the church should not be a force in political life.
Among the most famous philosophes were: Voltaire, Adam Smith, Jean-Jacques Roueseau, Montesquieu, Denis Diderot, and David Hume.The biggest article of the philosophes, was an encyclopedia written by Denis Diderot. This encyclopedia’s purpose was to centralize learning and to discuss the philosophe’s views on religion and society. The quote feature in the essay description taken from Richelieu’s “Political Testament” how much knowledge citizens should intake. It basically says that knowledge should be taught equally.
However, it would be monstrous for everyone in a state to have knowledge. People wouldn’t be loyal and they would want to be more smart and not work. Because of this the state would lose money from goods not being sold. If knowledge were to be given to everyone, people would ask more questions and then defend truth. To my knowledge, the philosophes would somewhat agree with Richelieu. Their beliefs that citizens should be taught equally is similar to Richelieu’s. However, the fact that people in a society would not be loyal if taught was not something that the philosophes had ever thought of. The philosophes would also agree with Richelieu when he says that citizens would start questioning things and defend truth. This questioning by the citizens, is something that the philosophes were trying to accomplish themselves.
During the English Civil War, many different radical groups emerged. Four of the major various groups were the Diggers, Ranters, Quakers, and Levellers. Diggers were religious pacifists who favored the abolition of private ownership of land. The Diggers influenced later radical thought, as well as modern socialism. Quakers were a group of Christians that believed that divine revelation is immediate and individual. They rejected a formal creed, and worshipped on the basis of silence. Ranters were a religious group. They favored antinomianism and pantheism. Levellers wanted to decentralize the church, have better access to education, reform the law. The Levellers basically wanted to separate political power from wealth and have a freedom of religion. “Most officers of the New Model Army, such as Cromwell, were Independents, Puritans who favored a decentralized church, a degree of religious toleration, and a wider sharing of political power among men of property, not just among the very wealthy gentry.”(Noble 598).It seems as if the philosophes would be aligned with the “New Model Army” and the various groups that emerged in the Civil War. They both criticized the Christian church for its rejection of science, otherworldliness, and belief in man’s depravity. These groups that emerged in the English Civil War, seem to echo the words of the philosophes. The philosophes did their thinking without war, or vengeance. These emerging groups, seemed to market there beliefs to the public, while the philosophes did the thinking.