We The People
Lesson Four: How did Modern Ideas of Individual Rights Develop?
Terms To Know:
Age of Enlightenment- an intellectual movement of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that celebrated human reason and sought to realize its potential in all areas of human endeavor
Capitalism-An economic system in which the means of producing and distributing goods are privately owned and operated for profit in a competitive market
Christendom- the Christian world, or Christians in general, considered a single society
Hierarchical-organized or classified according to rank, capacity, or authority
Judeo-Christian- beliefs and practices which have their roots in Judaism and Christianity
Middle Ages- A period lasing from the fifth century to the fourteenth century, during which the political, economic, and military structure was characterized by feudalism; the term “medieval” describes that which occurred during the Middle Ages
Nation-State- the modern nation as the representative of political organization
Papacy- The office or authority of the Pope, the spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic Church
Private Morality- The principles of civic virtue as expressed in Judeo-Christian teachings, as well as fundamental ideas about right and wrong that come from religion, ethics, and individual conscience
Providence- Founders spoke of this as to suggest their belief in God’s interest and involvement in the affairs of the world
Public morality- principles of civic virtue embodies in Greek and Roman ideals
Reformation- sixteenth-century religious movement aimed at reforming the Roman Catholic church and resulting in the establishment of Protestant churches
Renaissance- the great revival of art, literature and learning in Europe during the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth century, based on classical sources
Secular government- a system of political power not exercised by ecclesiastical bodies or the clergy; contrasted with theocracy
Question & Answer:
1. How would you describe the difference between the classical republican idea of civic virtue and Judeo-Christian ideas of morality?
· Classical republicans stressed the idea of public morality, but Judeo-Christianity added the component of private morality-love and benevolence towards others. The Founders believed that society had to have both. Judeo-Christianity also helped to strengthen the ideas of justice, liberty, and individual rights.
2. How did the Judeo-Christian Heritage contribute to the followers understanding of human rights?
· Whereas classical republicanism looked toward the common good of society, Judeo-Christian beliefs viewed the individual with personal dignity, worth, and an individual soul. The Founders believed that each individual had rights as an individual.
3. What features of society in the Middle Ages contributed to the view that rights belonged to the group, rather than to individuals?
· The European people saw themselves as united under one society- Christendom. Most people thought of themselves as loyal to only two allegiances- their own community and to the Church. Medieval ideas of society also reflected the idea of harmony between each individual and the whole of society. Society was compared to a body, in which some parts were more important than others, but all were necessary. And thus, society was divided into different classes or groups such as nobility, royalty, clergy, tradesmen, craftsmen, and peasants. Each individuals’ role, therefore, was determined by one of these groups, and rights were spoken in terms of a group rather than a concept of “natural” or “universal” rights for all people.
4. How did the Renaissance contribute to modern ideas about rights? How did the Protestant Reformation contribute to modern ideas about rights? How did the rise of nation-states contribute? How did the economic system of capitalism contribute?
· The Renaissance and Reformation produced a greater emphasis on the importance of the individual than had existed in the Middle Ages or in classical Greece or Rome. The ideas and opinions of individuals were valued. As the Renaissance emphasized individual activity and creativity, the followers of the Protestant Reformation emphasized the relationship between the individual believer and God. The rise of nation-states stimulated new thought about government and rights. Capitalism translated this new spirit into economic opportunity. More individuals could compete on an equal footing and hope to improve their place in society.
5. Why was the invention of the printing press important in promoting the spirit of individualism?
· The printing press allowed for books to e more available to the people. The presses began to print the Bible in vernacular, and the Reformation encouraged people to interpret the Bible for themselves, instead of taking the interpretation given to them by the Roman Catholic Church. This encouraged greater freedom of conscience.
6. What was the Age of Enlightenment and why is it sometimes called the “Age of Reason”?
· The Enlightenment was an intellectual movement of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that celebrated human reason and sought to realize its potential in all areas of human endeavor. It is sometimes called the “Age of Reason” because the Enlightenment is characterized by scientific discovery and the application of this to human nature and society. Through science, Enlightenment thinkers attempted to make Reason out of the workings of government and societal institutions.