CH 10

For this Discussion, answer one of the instructor-provided questions: CH 10

  1. Historians often consider France’s Louis XIV the quintessential absolutist monarch. Would you agree with their statement? If so, what do you consider the most important absolutist characteristic of his regime? If you disagree with the historians, who do you think was a better example of absolutism, and why?
  2. In England, the late seventeenth century saw the rise of constitutionalism.  These events inspired what historians call the “Whig school” of historiography, which claims that history is the story of the evolution of political rights.  How well do the events taking place in England throughout the late seventeenth century bear this theory out?  Are we seeing an evolution of rights in England or is this more of a revolution?
  3. Choose one of the major philosophes discussed in our textbook (Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, or Rousseau). Discuss their beliefs, particularly about government and religion. What form(s) of government would your chosen philosophe believe was best? Why? What religion(s) did your philosophe support? Why?


I will address the question: “Choose one of the major philosophes discussed in our textbook (Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, or Rousseau). Discuss their beliefs, particularly about government and religion. What form(s) of government would your chosen philosophe believe was best? Why? What religion(s) did your philosophe support? Why?”

I choose to discuss Jean-Jacques Rousseau, one of the major Enlightenment philosophers known for his influential works on political philosophy, including “The Social Contract” and “Discourse on the Origin and Basis of Inequality Among Men.”

Rousseau believed in the concept of the social contract, which posits that individuals surrender certain rights to a collective authority in exchange for protection and the preservation of their remaining rights. He argued for a form of government based on popular sovereignty, where political power ultimately resides with the people. Rousseau envisioned a direct democracy, where citizens participate directly in decision-making processes rather than delegating authority to representatives.

In terms of religion, Rousseau’s views were complex and often controversial. While he acknowledged the existence of a divine being and the importance of religious sentiment in fostering social cohesion, he was critical of institutionalized religion and its role in promoting superstition and intolerance. Rousseau advocated for a form of natural religion based on personal spirituality and moral conscience, rather than adherence to organized religious doctrines.

Overall, Rousseau’s preferred form of government was a participatory democracy, where citizens actively engage in the political process to collectively determine the common good. His vision of religion emphasized individual spirituality and moral autonomy, rejecting the authority of established religious institutions. Rousseau’s ideas continue to influence debates on democracy, citizenship, and the role of religion in society to this day.

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