Enlightenment Philosophers
Updated: 3/12/2021
Enlightenment Philosophers

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  • John Locke was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the "Father of Liberalism". John Locke refuted the theory of the divine right of kings and argued that all persons are endowed with natural rights to life, liberty, and property and that rulers who fail to protect those rights may be removed by the people, by force if necessary.
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer. His political philosophy influenced the progress of the Enlightenment throughout Europe, as well as aspects of the French Revolution and the development of modern political, economic and educational thought. Thought. Rousseau's political theory stems from his idea of the social contract and his thoughts on the origins of inequality. Broadly speaking, he believed humans were good in the original state of nature, but we have become corrupted by societal forces.
  • François-Marie Arouet, known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher famous for his wit, his criticism of Christianity—especially the Roman Catholic Church—as well as his advocacy of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and separation of church and state. Voltaire believed above all in the efficacy of reason. He believed social progress could be achieved through reason and that no authority—religious or political or otherwise—should be immune to challenge by reason. He emphasized in his work the importance of tolerance, especially religious tolerance.