The Enlightenment and the French Revolution
The Age of Reason, as the enlightenment is often referred to, brought with it game-changing innovations in science and technology. Numerous scholars of the scientific persuasion such as Isaac Newton made their mark on history during this period by advancing theories that had effectively not been conceptualized before. In essence, Europe was subjected to a deluge of new knowledge that changed the way people thought at the time. However, it should be noted that these changes were not restricted to science alone. Philosophers and thinkers also contributed to this new development by formulating and advancing ideas that were meant to re-examine the old way of doing things. These ideas had a remarkable influence on religion, politics, culture and the management of economic affairs. It is during this period in history that notable intellectuals such as John Locke and Renee Descartes made significant contributions in the form of ideologies that continue to resonate with many people to this very day. It is important to highlight the fact that in the course of history, the challenging of an existing order by a new one almost always results in some form of conflict. It is therefore unsurprising that events such as the American and French revolutions were greatly influenced by the enlightenment. This paper seeks to explore the effect of the enlightenment on the French revolution.
It is instructive to note that the pre-revolution French society was largely unequal owing to the skewed distribution of resources and political power in favor of the wealthy minority. This minority constituted the clergy and the nobility. These two classes enjoyed extensive privileges amidst gnawing poverty and economic hardship experienced by the peasants and the bourgeoisie respectively. Around this time, enlightenment thinkers and philosophers were active in suggesting new solutions to problems occasioned by the old order. One notable example is Montesquieu.