John Locke – Prophet of Political Freedom – II

Lead:  His political philosophy laid the foundation for modern liberal democracy, but in many ways John Locke helped change the way people think. Some have called him the first modern mind.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Not content to simply absorb the classical education he received at 17th century Westminster School and Oxford University, John Locke embarked upon a life of fruitful inquiry into a wide variety of disciplines. He was interested in medicine, experimental science, philosophy, economics, practical politics, education, language, diplomacy, and religion, in a hungry but not Faustian pursuit of knowledge. In most of these fields he was not an expert, but neither was he an amateur floating from one whim to another.

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John Locke – Prophet of Political Freedom – I

Lead: Emerging from the political ferment of the English Civil War, John Locke, one of the seminal thinkers of the 17th century, laid the philosophical basis for liberal representative government.

 

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

 

Content: John Locke was born in 1632 in Pensford, south of Bristol, England. His father, a country attorney, was of puritan inclination and fought in the Civil War on the side of Parliament. This enabled him to send his son to Westminster School where the boy’s superior performance earned him a scholarship at Christ Church College, Oxford. There he also excelled, but found the traditional curriculum tedious and demonstrated early a lifelong eclectic interest in a wide variety of subjects such as empirical science and medicine.

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The Declaration of the Rights of Man II

Lead: Believing women should be included in the concepts of freedom and equality of the French Revolution, Gouges published a document that would prove to be too revolutionary even for the French Revolution, The Declaration of Rights of Woman and Citizen.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Olympe de Gouges was born in 1748, the daughter of a butcher and a washerwoman. After the death of her older and wealthy husband, de Gouges had funds to help support herself and was able to work as a playwright and then a writer of political pamphlets during the French Revolution. A vigorous feminist, she championed controversial political and social causes such as the rights of illegitimate children and single mothers, the right to seek divorce, national education, and the building of better roads and maternity hospitals.

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The Declaration of the Rights of Man I

Lead: During the French Revolution, the National Assembly adopted  one of the most important documents in political history – The Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the summer of 1789, during the first year of the French Revolution, deputies of the Third Estate, the branch of the Estates-General, which represented the vast majority of French citizens, defying King Louis XVI, declared themselves to be the National Assembly. Shortly after the storming of the Bastille by the mobs of Paris, the Assembly formally adopted a series of revolutionary principles  called the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen.

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Jean-Jacques Rousseau II

Lead: Accepted as a part of the brilliant literary and cultural society of Paris in the mid-1700s, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, however, never felt quite at home.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: His early youth, spent in one of Geneva’s upper class families, was disrupted by his mother’s death and father’s exile. The resulting social come down gave Rousseau a life-long sense of insecurity and hunger for approval from the wealthy and well-connected. After his 1742 arrival in Paris Rousseau gravitated to the leading intellectual figures of the city cultivating a friendship with many such as the Encyclopedist, Denis Diderot. He soon, however, broke with them over the question of progress. In A Discourse on the Origins of Inequality, begun in late 1753, Rousseau describes primitive man in his idyllic state, basically good in the moral sense, free of the cumbersome burdens of modern society - culture, government, education, even family - here truly was uncorrupted man, the noble savage.

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Jean-Jacques Rousseau I

Lead: In 1712 at the southern end of Lake Geneva hard by the French frontier lay the municipal republic of Geneva. In that year was born one of the west’s most influential social critics, Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Rousseau’s aristocratic mother died in childbirth and he was raised and educated by his father, a restless artisan who preferred upper class diversions, hunting, dancing, dueling, to his watch-making duties. Rousseau’s early education consisted mostly of readings from the ancient Roman author Plutarch. As an adolescent, he was apprenticed first to a notary and then a brutish and cruel engraver. Rousseau washed out with both. His downward social spiral was humiliating to him and to escape he converted, for a short time, to Catholicism. After a wandering youth, he arrived in Paris in 1742 filled with great hopes and ambition.

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Samuel Johnson and the Enlightenment in England

Lead:  Samuel Johnson lived during the European Enlightenment and therefore believed that ideas should be expressed freely. He once said, “The chief glory of every people arises from its authors.”

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: With roots in the Scientific Revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries, Enlightenment thinking advocated the use of reason to challenge existing doctrines and traditions. The result: significant reforms in government, religion, economics, philosophy and education and important advances in humanist principles – freedom, individual rights, liberty and equality. 

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Enlightenment III

Lead: Intellectual movements seize upon innovative communications to spread their ideas. The European Enlightenment used the London coffeehouse, the Parisian salon and a giant set of books. The results were revolutionary.

Content: In the late 20th century American movement conservatives used talk radio to emerge from the political wilderness. Reeling from defeat, their progressive opponents seized upon the Internet to restore their fortunes. The cheerleaders of the Enlightenment, journalists and writers in England and the French philosophes were eager to advance their ideas so as to reform the role of government and religion. Their goal was to secure political liberty, economic freedom and expanded education for the masses. The means they used varied in place and time.

 

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