The Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the scientific revolution changed the way how educated people examined the world. Evolving from the Renaissance era, educated people saw the importance of understanding the world around. Europe transcended from a religious perspective of viewing things to a secular aspect. During the era, some scholars like Luther and Calvin provided a platform on how to challenge traditional authority, where religion had not rooted in the notion of inquiry but justified everything using the Supreme Being without explanations. During that period, science was used to explain the importance of God but not the environment that people lived in. The early scholars’ example of Isaac Newton and Galileo Galilei started to reject the Aristotelian scientific thought. The sentiments gained traction all over Europe. Intellectuals, philosophers, and writers like Immanuel Kant and David Hume among others triggered the revolution that includes political and social changes in England, France, Italy, and some other European nations. Their inquiry led to the developments in modern science, economics, arts, and forms of government. However, the scientific revolution was hardly felt in France, where a high number of educated people started to reject royal absolutism. The critical analysis of politics, religion, and every aspect of nature and human life was called enlightenment; thus, the period was established as the Enlightenment era. This thesis will establish the contemporary contribution of the period of the Enlightenment era to France revolution and its future contribution to modern economics. 

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Building a framework from religion to modern economics 

The Enlightenment era, also known as the Age of Reason, was the main cause of France revolution between the sixteenth and seventeenth century in France. Early proponents of the revolution that believed in better systems than the church and monarchy offered were Baron de Montesquieu, Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Denis Diderot, Adam Smith, and Francois Quesnay. The leaders of Enlightenment believed that the laws of society and nature could be explained with proper scientific methods of research. They thought out the religion and considered themselves free from it. Through their thoughtful opinion, they could fix the world. Most of the Enlightenment leaders are today the fathers of many explained researches and mode of systems that are used to date. French Enlightenment had appeared because of the resentment and discontent with the extravagant King Louis XIV, which led to wealthy intellectuals gathering in coffee shops and salons to display their dissatisfaction with the state of the country. Women played crucial roles during the era as they hosted mixed philosophers from different regions who used to brainstorm at the salons as the King was closer to death. After King XIV’s death, the court of Versailles began to lose its strength as the revolution grew and the population resonated well with the philosophers. Through the salons, the philosophers acquired information from political contacts that had the same views but could not speak because of their positions. However, one aspect that left a mark from the French revolution was the enlightenment in economics. The enlightenment in economics rose after a long religious conflict between religious and secular sentiments. At the time, anything originating from the church was the gospel truth, and it led to more inquiries with the support of the extravagant King. Today’s portion of modern economics is a result of the French scientific revolution that wanted more involved system of government and better social services. During this period, such economic forms as capitalism and socialism were born out the views of different scholars. The intellectual movement is what shaped Europe and the rest of the world with the help of educated people. Therefore, the French revolution helped the philosophers and scholars to attain confidence from breaking from the religion and build framework on modern economics.

Separation of powers (Destruction of supreme Monarchy)

One of the main developments of the French was revolution was to build a system that will separate powers both politically and economically form the monarch. Baron de Montesquieu was a French aristocrat born in 1689 and died in 1755. He was advocating the abolishment of royal absolutism.  He is prominent for his book “The Spirit of Laws” published in 1748. According to Baron, he was a staunch advocate of separation of powers. His assertions were that there should be three levels of government which are executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The idea was that each branch is supposed to check another organ, thus limiting absolute power of a single individual or organization. His ideology originated from the British system, where it did not have absolute monarchy compared to France. The Baron’s hypothesis had a significant influence to the constitution drafters of the United States. His works were acknowledged by the US President Thomas Jefferson, who was in office from 1801 to 1809 and is now widely considered as “the father of the Constitution”. Jefferson adapted Baron’s ideology and framed the Constitution to include three arms of government. In the United States of America, there is an executive arm headed by the President who is elected for a period of four years; legislative arm which consists of two houses of representatives and senate; and the third arm, the judiciary, which has the supremacy as the top court in addition to other smaller law courts. Jefferson placed a higher value on reasoning and forming a sound government. His first move was to separate schools from the religious structures, which promoted him to the presidency in the 1800 election. Although raised as an Anglican, he believed in religious freedoms from his quote “it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God.” Jefferson’s first principle was to separate the church from the state; and after winning the election, he made all Anglican clergy remove from government payroll, although the church still maintained powers due to the numbers of congregation. From that point onwards to the modern America, all ties between the church and the government were severed.  Jefferson’s achievements are acknowledged in the Constitution making the leader of American Enlightenment no other man than Benjamin Franklin. He influenced the formation of the American republic from thirteen colonies and applied scientific reasoning during his leadership. He established educational institutions that would propagate research on science, politics, religion, and, unlike in France, promoted religious tolerance. It is best to say that the principle of separation of powers advocated by Baron de Montesquieu is witnessed among current governments today in another form, a democracy. 

Development Economics

François-Marie Aroute Voltaire, an enlightenment philosopher, is considered to be the greatest of all the philosophers of the French revolution. He was educated by the Jesuits, and yet he ended up challenging the authority of the Catholic Church. Voltaire believed in a distant deistic God who set things in motion and let humans decide using the law of science. He advocated religious freedoms, despised religious intolerance, and believed that religion propagated by the church in France was limiting human abilities and spirit to prosper. Voltaire used publications such as the “Candide” to reject organized religion because he saw the latter was exploiting people’s superstitions and ignorance and created fear of eternal punishment without reason. Another famous publication was “Treatise on Toleration”, where he supported religious tolerance which was famous for his anti-religious statement “ecrasez l’infame” (i.e. “crush the horrible thing”). However, the point to recognize about Voltaire is that he was a supporter of the monarchy but with limited power and with people involvement. The social aspect advocated by Voltaire was limited government interference in human matters. Francois Maurice Adrien Marie Mitterrand was the French socialist president from 1981 to 1995, the longest-serving President of France. He increased social benefits by increasing the minimum wage by 10% and advocated workers’ right to consultation. Under his term, the policies were more centered on the people with little government intervention. Housing allocations to the lowly paid were increased by 25%; family allowances increased by 44%; and, by the end of the year, the allowance for the families with two children was increased by 81%. Through these policies, the purchasing power of an average Frenchman rose by 4.5 % in 1981 and 7.6% in 1982. The president also increased the minimum wage by 15%. Nevertheless, his recorded achievement was when he passed the first decentralization laws in France known as the Deferred Act. As far as the policies of Mitterrand sounded at the time, France could not compete in the European monetary system forcing him to make a U-turn and adopt austerity measures during tough times from 1984 to 1986 and later from 1988 to 1990. Currently, in France, the President is a social democrat, which means he is adapting the third-way approach. Franklin Roosevelt had to attained more jobs for the people during the revolution. Jeffrey Lacker had pushed for less interest rates in the federal banks to make sure that people are motivated o go and take loans and the same time increase employment. The revolution was one of the effects that developed the world to move into development economics and growth.

Political economics and the ruling class

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was born in 1712 and died in 1778 in France. He was a prolific and enlightened writer who advocated individual freedom. Unlike other philosophers, he attacked civilization and essence of liberal sentiments. He considered them as more destructive than liberating. According to Jean-Jacques, a man is born good but has to be prevented from the influence that corrupts his mind; and that is civilization. His sentiments were the start of the Romantic Movement in the early nineteenth century, where the rebellion against the culture of Enlightenment started happening. Rousseau’s work, “The Social Contract”, published in 1762, establishes that every man is born free, but people are in chains everywhere. His assertions were that as social inequalities developed, people would have to enter into a social contract to surrender their rights or the will of the majority would speak, thus forming or creating a government that speaks on behalf of the whole population. As appealing as it is during the French Revolution, it was misused by leaders like Adolf Hitler to propagate personal agendas. In 1762, Rousseau published another book called “Emile”, an astounding criticism of education. In his book, Rousseau argued that education should be based on love, tenderness, and children understanding but not on the development of reason and critical or logical thinking. Rousseau’s hypothesis has changed education policies around the world. Benjamin Disraeli was the conservative right wing blue Tory Prime Minister of Britain, who created a new society based on Rousseau’s assertions. He believed that society had to have a middle class to reduce poverty, however with government intervention. Allowing free market in Britain was creating a gap between the wealthy and the poor; and if not controlled, it would reach unmanageable levels. The prime minister raised a tax by 1% for the wealthy to create relief for the poor as one of the first steps of creating a social welfare plan. The rich people were given 2% tax break; but if they pay more relief plan to the poor, they will get a tax relief of 5%. In addition, if businesses are willing to increase wages and employment, more workers will receive 50% tax relief. However the plan was created to enable the poor people for some time only. Nevertheless, over the years, the program has to be evolving and expanding to today’s project of national hospital services. In France, policies by Jacques Chirac express the victories of socialism through such reforms as 35-hour working week and increased public works (50% of the GDP). However, the modern French decided to take a break against socialism and voted for social democrat Francois Hollander, who was seen as a bridge between the right and the left wing. 

Sharing Economy

The revelation introduced good people presentation in that it built the aspect of sharing economy where individuals would contribute to growth and sustainability. Denis Diderot was born in 1713 and died in 1784 in France. An enlightened philosopher, he published an “Encyclopedia” in 1751 that included 25 volumes of social and political critiques. The book had worked for Voltaire and Montesquieu. Together, they attacked the atrocities of the French government using literary works with a systematic scientific explanation. Diderot’s main objection was religious intolerance, unjust taxation, and also no services offered to the people. The message of Diderot can be explained in the rebellion of Oliver Cromwell and the war of independence from the Britain in the United States of America. Oliver Cromwell was the leader of Puritanical group in England. The Englishman was a farmer from Cambridge who preached in the English Presbyterian. His teachings were based on John Calvin’s works. Calvin was born in 1509 in France; he was a development figure of the Protestant Reformation. Some Christian teachings are based on his ideology that was called Calvinism. He questioned the Catholic hypocrisy and domination in religious matters as the gospel truth. He believed in people’s representation in leadership roles, which were unacceptable at the time when monarchies had reigned. However, his assertions were not lost after his teachings were adapted by Oliver Cromwell that propagated the enlightenment revolution in Britain. Cromwell believed in the form of government that had people’s representation. He organized a new army resembling the current army in the modern world and removed the crown becoming the leader with almost monarchic powers but with no crown. He is famous for many achievements. Among the most notable ones, there was creating the English commonwealth and making himself the lord protector. However, he adhered to his goals where he allowed people’s representation as far as Wales set up the rump parliament. He gave the parliament much power to deal with social issues, which Puritans were fighting with”economic equality.” He allowed regional cities’ parliaments to vote internally for the issues affecting population. The power and use of the legislatures were seen when they gave business incentive to farmers to buy more land for growing food and rearing animals. Without Cromwell’s approval, it was an indication of decentralization of people-centered governance. England became the top exporter of wool to such an extent that the Englishmen would go to Belgium to purchase yarn. The same criteria were used by John Winthrop in the United States of America, where he gave financial incentives to people to open up more businesses in Massachusetts Bay, thus creating the start of the Boston shipping line. Through these regional legislation policies, public education was born in Boston. Clearly, the policies are one of the major scholarly theories used by governments and scholars to enhance modern economics and administration.


Adam Smith was born in 1727 in Scotland and is prominently known among economists as the father of economics. Smith met physiocrats on the European continent and refined his ideas, which he published in the book “Wealth of Nations”. There, he advocated the modern-day capitalism. The publication was issues in the same year as the Declaration of Independence was signed in the United States of America. His economic system was based on the laissez-faire argument of letting the market be the driving force. The state should act as the policeman, but the demand, supply, and competition should be the ones controlling the market, not the government. Smith believed that the government should exist based on three factors. The factors were security, justice, and social service maintenance. In security, as Smith thought, the government could protect its people against invasions from other countries. Another factor was the government to be there to instill justice and create peace by enforcing laws. Finally, the government should oversee maintenance of things like infrastructure of road and bridges and public amenities. Smith’s ideas gave new life to the poor and increased the middle-class population in his kind of system. Stanley Baldwin, the former prime minister of Britain (in office in 1930), adapted the principles of Adam Smith. At the time, the British economy had 90% of GDP on national debt ratio. Thus, Baldwin adopted deficit spending to implement Smith’s principles. First and foremost, he untied the British pound from gold and pumped the money into the economy, which means at that time that Britain had an enormous amount of capital to start a business. He controlled inflation by not printing money that would cause a 2% excessive inflation; and he understood that too much money in the market is not good. Businesses were developing during his time; import and export trades improved tremendously. Baldwin had an advisor by the name of John Maynard Keynes who believed in capitalism. Keynes made an impact in the British economy and was the economic advisor of Franklin Roosevelt. During this time, Britain had the fastest free market in the world and was experiencing rapid growth, reduced unemployment levels, and a considerable decrease in poverty rate. Therefore, French revolution also was a standard build up to the modern perception of capitalism in the world.


There are other philosophers who contributed to the French Revolution, namely Francis Quesnay, Thomas Hobbes, and John Locke. The French revolution caused tremendous change regarding the GDP of France over the years. However, after the French Revolution, the country went into a financial crisis, and several revolutions happened to it like the storming of the Bastille, abolition of feudalism, women’s march on Versailles, and completing the Constitution among others. The significance of the French Revolution was highly felt from 1789 to 1792, when France had its first republic under the leadership of a national convention committee that took over the leadership. The first leader of the committee was Paul Barras, who later paved the way for a democratic system that saw many leaders coming and leaving. However, all the growth of the country’s GDP has started to rise tremendously in modern France. 


The French Revolution is one of the factors considered as the contributing aspect to the economic growth of France. Naturally, during the process of revolution, the economy fell due to certain issues. The political temperature during the era was high, thus creating a bad environment for the business as well. The economy had just dropped; though after the Revolution, the France attained more investors’ confidence and had the number of industries and employment rate increased.

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