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PinkMonkey Online Study Guide-World History

5.3 Application of the Critical Spirit

With the spread of rationalism, philosophers began to attack the problems of religion and morality. They not only criticized the state, society and the Church, but also tried to point the way to a more progressive way of life by applying rationalism to all phases of life.


More stress was laid on doing ’good works’ rather than on faith in the religious field, thanks to the rise of the humanitarian spirit. Slavery was criticized. There was demand for prison reform. The idea of religious toleration grew, while religious persecution declined. These problems were shared by both the Catholics and the Protestants.


In the political sphere, autocracy was criticized and pleas were made for personal liberties in some of the writings of John Milton, for example.

The English Petition of Rights (1628), the American Declaration of Independence (1776) and other famous documents were evidence of substantial gains for liberty.

Exhibit 5.4
The Declaration Committee

The most notable speakers for the people and against the kings were the Englishman John Locke as well as the Frenchmen Charles Montesquieu and Jean Jacques Rousseau, who were highly influenced by Locke in the 17thcentury. Locke argued that all governments exist or should exist by the consent of the governed.


5.0 - Introduction
5.1 Growth and Features of the Revolution
5.2 The Rationalist Spirit and the Contribution of Voltaire
5.3 Application of the Critical Spirit
5.4 Age of Enlightened Despots
5.5 Dates & Events
5.6 Points to Remember

Chapter 6


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