Enlightenment Thinkers and their Effects on Society


Great and philosophical/enlightenment thinkers have views, which were really useful to the society. For instance, their opinions that were expressed in writings shaped the ways people carried out themselves or behaved and have promoted modern thinking. This particular analysis will focus on contributions of three major enlightened thinkers Jean-jacque Russea, John Locke and Naom Chomsky. The essay will also analyze their ideas and beliefs on property and way of life and how it has affected modern society.

Jean-Jacue Roseau

This was one of the great and early French thinkers whose ideas revolutionized people’s thinking and behavior around the globe. The main theories of Jean-Jacue Roseau to be discussed in this essay include the social contract theory and Origin of inequality. In his social contract theory, he argued that man is born with an innate freedom that should aid his decision making. This means that no one should have powers over the other, but only the powers that an individual acquires from legislation (Bertram 20). He went on to argue that even those legislative powers must originate from, and be ratified by the people, hence belong to them.  Secondly, the philosopher presented another theory of the “Second Discourse” or Origin of Inequality (Bertram 28). Here, the philosopher argued that there exist natural and political inequalities. In this regard, the strength of people differs significantly, thus affecting their productivity. Those with enormous strength have the ability to acquire more than their colleagues, leading to inequality among people. Similarly, the acquisition of political power creates a difference among the people because those in power have the ability to decide on the allocation of available resources (Bertram 32). Therefore, they are likely to acquire more than their subjects. 

First, his political thought impacted on the ways people behaved during the French revolution and also contributed to dramatic political thought and development in the entire world (Bertram 35). This philosophical thought under the social contract theory created the demand for freedom from any form of oppression that is currently enshrined in most constitutions on the Bill of Rights. His work also influenced the social behaviour and way of life among different categories of people around the world by creating a sense of harmony due to the belief that all should be equal and deserve respect (Bertram 38). The impacts of his second philosophical thought of inequality influenced people’s attitude towards wealth and power acquisition, creating the struggles for political power.

John Locke

His philosophical thought set a pace for other thinkers, which eventually changed the beliefs of many across the world. John Locke used the theory of structural realism to explain that the human mind is blanked at birth, thus the idea of innate thoughts and inspirations do not exist (Locke 14). Conspicuously, he suggested that the personal reflections and senses make one gain experiences and ideals about life (Locke 16). In reality, Locke’s view is considered to be true because the child is born without innate knowledge, but gains this during growth and interaction with others (Locke 17).

Locke’s opinion has really changed societal thinking, especially with reference to acquisition of knowledge. Knowing that the brain s blank at birth, everyone struggles to make sure that he/she acquires knowledge during development. Currently, the presence of numerous institutions of learning could have been influenced by the increasing need for practical and relevant knowledge to improve individual growth and economic development. Knowledge diversification that characterizes modern society and way of life has also been influenced by Locke’s theory.  

Naom Chomsky’s Magna Carta Theory

In Chomsky’s Magma Carta Theory, he argued about human liberties, which he believed was one of the fundamental rights of every person (Chomsky 7). He was categorical that infringing in the rights of a person was tantamount to denying his/her the basic rights which the person should enjoy. The philosopher maintained that when a person is obstructed from enjoying liberties, he/she might be forced to fight for it, and this explains the continued struggles for liberations among different groups in society (Chomsky 9). People’s conscience only has peace when they feel that they are fully liberated from any form of oppression. However, due to marginalization of certain sections of the society as evidenced in most countries, peace can hardly be achieved. He went on to argue that it is upon the governments to make sure that every group is liberated from political, economical and social oppression (Chomsky 11). According to Chomsky, this situation is real and practical in the current society. The three philosophers presented views on property and way of life in line with core principles such as dualism, idealism and materialism.


According to the beliefs of dualism, the soul and matter is recognized for the existence of an object. The dualists believe in the interaction between the mind and physical matter to ensure there is existence of a substance (Locke 54). In fact, this might be true owing to the strong correlation between the mind and the object.  


The views of idealism is tailored to the actual reality about the world is determined by the person’s ideas and state of mind. The idealists believe on the non-existence of physical objects, thus whatever the people touch, hear, taste, and smell originates from the mind (Bertram 41). Idealism also understands that the force of life is directly from the soul.


In their materialism views, the philosophers argued that all existing substances in the world are in form of matter. The materialism literally believes on physical objects for all existing things (Chomsky 22). Therefore, the materialists disregard the existence of soul or spirit, terming them as falsehood.