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Second Research Paper, “Humanistic and Economic Philosophies”


If you have remained abreast of your readings you should all now be familiar with the writings of Francis Bacon, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Adam Smith, David Hume and Immanuel Kant. Each of these individuals was greatly impacted by the Renaissance and the new way of thinking about man, science and nature that it promulgated. Each of these philosophers had an influential effect on the Enlightenment. Hobbes, Smith and Locke in particular would be very influential on the course of the American revolutionary period and the subsequent establishment of a constitutional republic in the United States.

Bacon was influential due to his philosophical and deductive approach to science. This led to his famous dictum that “knowledge is power”. Hobbes was a child of unrest in England and it influenced his philosphy that man must be governed because left to his natural devices, his life would be “nasty, brutish and short”. Hobbes did advance the notion of the social contract, allowing that man must be governed but the governing must be benevolent. John Locke is the most frequently cited influence upon the American Founders. He rejected the pessimism of Hobbes and felt that man must be allowed to construct his own government, and if government became oppressive of his freedom, then man was obligated to overthrow the source of the oppression. David Hume was a prominent member of the Enlightenment Philosophes. He was a close friend of Adam Smith who for his part advanced the arguments of free markets over the then extant mercantilist system employed by the great European powers. Finally Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who argued that man must be free to think freely. He questioned the existence of God without explicitly rejecting God. For many philosophers at the time, this was the penultimate freedom, which flew in the face of established and tradition bound governments, particularly in Europe.

For this paper I want you to re-evaluate the readings of these philosophers. Then put together a paper, between 2000-2200 words. Double spaced and Times New Roman or Arial font in 11 or 12 pts. In this paper I want you to describe the following:

Briefly describe the major points of each philospher’s essays. Compare and contrast the works of Hobbes and Locke, Hume and Kant. Describe the effects of the Humanism movement on these philosophers. Describe how that movement allowed them to advance their newfound philosophical ideologies. How did the spread of these ideas inaugurate the period known as the Enlightenment?

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