Enlightenment And Economics

     The Enlightenment is the name given to the intellectual movement that was
centered in the Western World, mainly Europe, during the 18th century. The rise
of modern science greatly influenced the enlightenment. It was also the
aftermath of the long religious conflict that followed the Reformation. The
thinkers of the Enlightenment were dedicated to secular views based on reason of
human understanding, which they hoped would provide a basis for beneficial
changes affecting every area of life and thought. There were many people during
the Enlightenment that made an impact on the world. Many people had different
opinions about what was happening and how to fix the problems facing the world
at that time. One man started this change with his Encyclopedia. This man was

Diderot; it was called the great work of his life. This book was a major weapon
against the old French society. His book made a great impact on the people
because it was so cheap that everyone could obtain a copy. With the printing of
this book a new group emerged from the populace. This group, named the

Physiocrats, has been viewed as the founders of the modern discipline of
economics. A well-known member of this party is known for his thoughts on the
old economic ideas. His name was Adam Smith and he had many economic ideas of
the enlightenment. Adam Smith wrote the book Inquiry into the Nature and Causes
of the Wealth of Nations. This book had three basic principles of economics. The
first principle was the condemning of mercantilist use of protective tariffs to
protect home industries. "A tailor does not try to make his own shoes, nor
does a shoemaker try to make his own clothes." (Western Civilization pg.

493) With this line of reasoning Adam Smith was saying that a country should not
try to make their own products when another country can supply them for cheaper
than the one country can make it. A nation should make what it can for the least
amount of money, without the tariff, then trade it with other countries. The
free trade principle was a fundamental economic principle to most people. The
second principle that Smith proposed was about labor. Unlike most of the

Physiocrates he thought that labor was a countries true wealth. Labor was the
only part of the country that could change the wealth, not gold or silver.

Finally Smith believed that the government only existed for three of the peoples
basic needs. He thought that the government should be a "passive
policemen". The three needs that Adam Smith theorized were the fact that
the people need some protection against another country in the case of an
invasion. The next need was for justice and peace in the cities. To do this
there had to be police. The very last need was maintenance. There were many
roads and bridges that needed to be kept in working order and the citizens were
too busy to do it themselves. Many of the ideas that Smith proposed were then
incorporated into everyday living. This made the enlightenment a new place for
people to live. The enlightenment brought a new life for the poor. They soon got
jobs and many other benefits for these poor people. The Enlightenment brought
more trade to the people. They felt that, along with Adam Smith, countries
should only make items that they can do for the cheapest amount. This spread
trade to many different countries that had items others needed. Distributing
trade made work available for a greater number of people. Government members
wanted to help their country have a greater economy. With this idea in mind they
started to make jobs open to more people. With more members in the working
society the country would have more benefits. There would be a larger food
supply and more money going back into the economy. The government supported the
people by making new positions for the needy. They did this by developing new
jobs to fit the three needs for the people according to Smith's theories. The
people needed to have maintenance around to fix the roads and bridges. These
made many new jobs for handymen. The next need was the need for security and
justice. The government had to structure an office for this, which supplied many
new jobs and made people feel safer so they came to the country. The new
theories of the Enlightenment are still around this very day. It has an effect
on almost everyone that works or lives today. There are still many different
places in the government that have the same ideas that were used back then. The

United States government trades with many other countries. It trades with the

Middle East countries for oil when we have a small stock of our own. In trade we
give them, something that we grow a large amount of that few countries do, corn.

The government also supplies a large amount of jobs to maintain the roads,
bridges, get others jobs, and to supply safety to the citizens. The

Enlightenment came to an end in Western Europe after the upheavals of the French

Revolution and the Napoleonic era revealed the costs of its political program
and the lack of commitment in those whose rhetoric was often more liberal than
their actions. Nationalism undercut its cosmopolitan values and assumptions
about human nature, and the romantics attacked its belief that clear
intelligible answers could be found to every question asked by people who sought
to be free and happy. The skepticism of the philosophes was swept away in the
religious revival of the 1790s and early 1800s. The cultural leadership of the
landed aristocracy and professional men who had supported the Enlightenment was
eroded by the growth of a new wealthy educated class of businessmen, products of
the industrial revolution. Only in North and South America, where industry came
later and revolution had not led to reaction, did the Enlightenment linger into
the 19th century. Its lasting heritage has been its contribution to the
literature of human freedom and some institutions in which its values have been
embodied. Abstract Over the years there have been many eras that have effected
the way we live now. In the Enlightenment Adam Smith had many theories about the
economy. These ideas had a grand effect on the people of the time and the people
that live today. The Enlightenment and its ideas help bring along many ideas and
many other eras in the process.


The Enlightenment Paul Brians 1999 http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/hum_303/enlightenment.html

Bjorn Christensson - Philosophers Guide 1997 http://sunsite.informatik.rwth-aachen.de/phil/filosofer/philosophers.html

Political Movers and Shakers of the Enlightenment, Mike Hodges, 1996
http://www2.cybernex.net/~mhodges/movers/enlightenment.htm Western Civilization

Volume II, Hughes Annual Edition, 1982 An Inquiry into the nature and Cause,

Adam Smith, William Benton Publishing, 1952 Intro into the Enlightenment, Lloyd

Spencer, Totem Publishing, 1997 Western Civilization Volume Four, Jackson J.

Spielvogel, Wadsworth, 1999