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Influence of Ideas of the Enlightenment philosophes Thomas Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers - Term Paper Example

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"Influence of Ideas of the Enlightenment philosophes Thomas Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers" paper focuses on John Locke, Baron Montesquieu, and Jean-Jaques Rousseau who were examples of the greatest philosophers during the Age of Enlightenment and their influence on the US…
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Influence of Ideas of the Enlightenment philosophes Thomas Jefferson and the other Founding Fathers
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Download file to see previous pages John Locke above all other enlightenment era philosophers made the most impact on the Founders. The seeds of the Founders’ concept of law and freedom emanated from Britain. The Constitution was inspired by the Magna Carta and British philosopher John Locke helped to lay the foundation for the Founders’ deep belief in personal freedoms. Locke defined each individual as having the right to “life, liberty and estate” (Locke, 1960: 448). These words have an almost identical mirror in the beginning paragraphs of the Declaration of Independence written nearly 70 years later: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” (“Declaration of Independence”, 1776). 

Jefferson’s words in the Declaration echo many of Locke’s premises, including the idea that the people not only have a right but an obligation, to revolt against the unnatural reign of King George under the existing conditions because the natural rights of men living in the colonies were being exploited rather than protected. “The human right in the property (one’s life was his property) was meant by Locke and understood by the Framers of the Constitution to be the fundamental liberty … It was only necessary to organize [government] to protect property and life and once organized other freedoms had to be protected against the government’s power” (Stephens, 2006). When the role of government ceases to protect these rights and instead begins to infringe upon them, Locke, and the founding fathers of the United States, felt it was the right and the responsibility of the people to revolt and establish a new social order.

Influenced by such earlier philosophers as Descartes and Hobbes, unhappy with his education in the style of Aristotle and tutored under the natural principles of Wilkins, Locke developed a decidedly anti-authoritarian philosophy in his writings, indicating that government should remove itself from the natural pursuit of knowledge undertaken by an individual. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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