Locke affirms that in nature all men are created equal and that no man should be under the control of another As a result men have two natural rights to do whatsoever he thinks fit for the preservation of himself and others and to punish the crimes committed against that law These two natural rights provide men with a great amount of freedom However Locke also acknowledges that a society in which men can do whatever they want under the guise of equality is a very dangerous one Here a government becomes necessary to prevent anarchy and preserve individuals rights and property In exchange for protection from the government men give up their natural rights In return the government must not abuse its power 2 Montesquieu claims that if given power men are bound to abuse it and subsequently the rights of the people they hold power over To prevent this abuse of power he proposes a system of checks and balances in the government When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person there can be no liberty there is no liberty if the judiciary power be not separated from the legislative and the executive If the legislature is created enforced and judged by the same person that person can take away the liberties of the people at will 3 Voltaire begins his essay by discussing superstition
He acknowledges that most educated people were concentrated within the upper class and their knowledge was passed down to their subjects this knowledge was quickly distorted into superstition Voltaire then compares superstition to intolerance But of all these superstitions is not the most dangerous that of hating your neighbor for his opinions Just as superstitions were formed from religious doctrine false ideas of other religions were also formed Voltaire stresses that all men are under the same god so the differences between them are not near 4 Rousseau explains that all men are born free and are only made slaves by force Because slaves have no rights men must avoid becoming a slave to their government to preserve their liberty However some form of government is necessary for their safety Rousseau proposes this solution As men cannot engender new forces but only unite and direct existing ones they have no other means of preserving themselves than the formation by aggregation of a sum of forces great enough to overcome the resistance of any individual This creation of a body meant to protect the rights and property of men is the social contract The government protects their people while the people have the power to hold their government accountable 5 These thinkers all agreed that every man has certain rights Locke Montesquieu Voltaire and Rousseau all agreed that these rights must be protected by some sort of government but tyranny must be avoided Locke and Montesquieu had similar ideas on how tyranny could be avoided Both believed that the government should be split into multiple branches legislative executive and judiciary Montesquieu takes this idea further In order to have this liberty it is requisite that power should be a check to power it is requisite the government be so constituted as one man need not be afraid of another
These methods of separation of power and checks and balances are meant to prevent tyranny Rousseau however also acknowledged that other forms of government might be more helpful depending on the population 6 Morgenstern defines the Enlightenment Project as an attempt to make concepts such as freedom rights liberty and equality accessible to the common man or the Third Estate Rousseau focused on emotion rather that rationality as the driving force behind human decisions Because these emotions allow human beings to care about each other Rousseau anticipated politics that focused more on community 7 Rousseau viewed rationality differently than his contemporaries While most other Enlightenment thinkers defined human nature by rationality Rousseau defined it primarily by instinct He goes further to say that all decisions humans make are the result of emotions with the primary emotion being love Rousseau then separates the emotion of love into two categories self preservation and pity These emotions are what creates a sense of community and allow humans to care for other people 8 Rousseau's thoughts on what the best government would be are very vague He acknowledges that every country's population is different and therefore has its own political problems Rousseau proposes that instead of the same system of government being the solution for all people there can be many successful solutions Each government must take a different form to accommodate its people s history and other factors Rousseau notes that as the population of a country changes its government must change with it to properly serve its people Above all Rousseau notes that while the best government is difficult to attain it is still something people should strive for 9 Though Rousseau admits that there are many different ways to achieve the best government he says that the end result should be a government that is authentic He then makes a real distinction between sovereignty and government only the people are sovereign and they establish the form of government that then proceeds to make any and all decisions that are not presented to the Sovereign for a vote This representative government that Rousseau suggests is very different from the reality he faced in France where the monarchy repeatedly abused its power at the expense of its people
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