Philosophers have made a significant contribution to the development of knowledge. Their ideas shaped public moods and resulted in revolutions in some cases. The report at hand seeks to explain the role of philosophers, especially representatives of the Greek school of thought, in the history of humanity. It also analyzes the overall history of democracy, including its development in France and contribution to the French Revolution. Furthermore, it provides and analyzes essential information regarding the universality of the concept of freedom. Moreover, the report evaluates the role of philosophers in the development of different religions, democracy, and theories that explain phenomena that used to be regarded as mysterious in the past. It is based on the scope of events and their significance. The provided information was obtained from research conducted in various historical databases. It was found out that philosophers had a considerable influence on the lifestyle of different generations. They helped the humanity to develop required knowledge that defines the daily activities of people.
The beginning of knowledge can be traced back to the ancient times. In this period, people possessed a little knowledge, and this fact limited their understanding of different phenomena to myths and narratives. Ancient philosophers tried to develop and spread specific theories, which explained the occurrence of particular natural events, for example, lightning. As a result, some storage of knowledge formed the foundation for the Enlightenment (Lefebvre, 1962). In particular, philosophers played an essential role in the development of the human thought concerning the issues of democracy and equality. Furthermore, the philosophical knowledge became the basis for a number of scientific inventions and ideas. In this period, most states had an aristocratic or monarchical structure. In such a way, these forms of government limited the freedom of people, in particular, their participation in the functioning of a country. Therefore, philosophers played a vital role in promoting the ideas of equality and freedom, which are the most basic characteristics of democracy (Goodwin, 2016). The paper focuses on the role of philosophers, especially the Greek school of thought, in the history of the human kind. It also analyzes the history of democracy in France and its influence on the French Revolution, as well as the universality of the concept of democracy as a whole.
History of Philosophers
The History of the Western philosophers began in the 6th century in Ancient Greece. For instance, Thales is considered one of the earliest philosophers. However, he focused more on the natural philosophy, which was a science rather than philosophy. Most pre-Socratic philosophers, including Thales, limited their scope of research and discussion to Metaphysics. The pre-Socratic philosophers were Materialists. Therefore, they were concerned with discovering and explaining the basic substance, which made up the world, without utilizing supernatural and mythological explanations (Dray, 1989). For example, Thales asserted that the universe consisted of various forms of water. Anaximander stated the world was made of air. In turn, Heraclitus suggested that it was made of fire, while Anaximander explained that it consisted of something that was infinite and boundless.
Pre-Socratic philosophers also faced the problem of change; in other words, the same things could exist in different forms. For instance, Heraclitus believed in the existence of a permanent change, which was the process of constant interplay between the opposites. On the other hand, another pre-Socratic philosopher, Parmenides, opposed the argument of change and indicated that the existence of things in the universe was unchanging and permanent. His deductive argument suggested that their existence was indestructible. Parmenides’ argument was essential in that it encouraged other philosophers to come up with counter arguments that explained the problem of change from another perspective (Dray, 1989). A Parmenides’ student, Zeno, made a great contribution as he advanced and revealed the paradoxes of motion. The paradoxes of motion formed the foundation of the logic study.
The ideas of the pre-Socratic philosophers may be considered unconvincing today. However, it should be noted that at their times, there was no scientific knowledge at all. Therefore, even the commonest phenomena such as lightning or solar eclipse seemed miraculous; thus, they were explained with the help of mythology. The attempts of philosophers provided a basis for the development of the rational understanding and interpretation. They also formed a foundation for other influential pre-Socratic philosophers, including Empedocles and Democritus. For instance, Empedocles combined the ideas of the pre-Socratic philosophers into a coherent theory that was referred to as the four classical elements. Empedocles’ theory became the standard reference for the next 2000 years (Keohane, 1980). Democritus developed the idea of Atomism. It indicated that all things are made of building blocks known as atoms. The particles occupied different positions in matters and formed different shapes as a result. Pythagoras was another influential philosopher of the Ancient times. He believed that numbers governed the reality. Therefore, he strongly advocated the study of Mathematics in order to counter the actuality.
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The Classical period was characterized by the existence of great philosophers such as Plato and Socrates. Socrates focused on the behavior of people; thus, he developed theories concerning ethics. For instance, the philosopher developed an approach to the critical reasoning, which focused on teachings of how to lead decent lives and differentiate the right from the wrong. His system, the Socratic Method, aimed at breaking down a problem into a number of questions (Dray, 1989). Corresponding answers provided a framework for establishing the best solution. However, his questioning method incurred negative reaction of the authorities; eventually, it led to his death. Since Socrates never documented his works, his views were studied from the dialogues of Plato, his student.
Plato was influential in structuring the knowledge in the area of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, and political philosophy into a systematic philosophy. He is considered the philosopher who opposed the reality of materialism with specific facts. Plato developed such doctrines as Idealism, Platonic Realism, and Essentialism. He also advanced the Universals theory and theory of forms. Moreover, the philosopher suggested that the virtue was a kind of Knowledge that people had to acquire in the pursuit of the ultimate good, which was the primary objective of all actions and desires of a human being.
Aristotle was another influential philosopher of the classical period. He greatly contributed to the creation of a more comprehensive philosophical system. For instance, the system integrated the logic, ethics, metaphysics, aesthetics, science, and politics. Aristotle's work influenced the philosophical thinking of the medieval period, as well. In his system of deductive logic, Aristotle emphasized the syllogism. He also asserted that the matter and form existed together since they were inseparable (Keohane, 1980). Aristotle also believed in the Eudaimonism. Also, he noted that the concept of ethics was more complicated since human beings did not have an ability to control their environment. He suggested that individuals could achieve happiness by avoiding excesses in their pursuit of a golden mean thus leading a balanced life.
The Socratic period was followed by the medieval period that emerged about the 4th-5th century. At this time, the philosophers shift their focus to the religion. Therefore, they emphasized the existence of the Supreme Being, God. They also tried to reconcile Christianity, and later Islam, with the classical philosophy. Some of the most influential Islamic philosophers of the time include Avicenna and Averroes. Avicenna developed Avicennian Logic, which tried to integrate the Islamic theology with the Neo-Platonism and ideas of Aristotle. Also, he developed the concept of a tabula rasa, which influenced the Empiricists, including John Locke (Dray, 1989). On the other hand, Averroes prepared translations of the writings of Aristotle, which influenced the whole European Scholastic Movement.
The Christian philosopher of the medieval period tried combining the logic, semantics, epistemology, and metaphysics. They also integrated the ideas of classical philosophers with the Christian theology. The most influential Christian philosophers of this period include St. Anselm, St. Thomas Aquinas, Peter Abelard, and John Duns Scotus. For instance, St. Abelard contributed to the introduction of the limbo doctrine for the anabaptized babies. The role of St. Anselm was pivotal in the development of the Ontological Argument, which explained the existence of God.
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The Greek Philosophers
In the ancient times, people believed in magic and mythology. The magic and myths were used to interpret and understand the world and natural forces. According to the ancient people, the world was influenced by the existence of higher deities. In turn, Greek philosophers developed a different approach to interpreting the philosophical paradigm. For instance, philosophers diverted from the mythological explanation; instead, they utilized explanations and interpretations that were based on the evidence and reasoning (Benn, 1882). The approach enhanced the advancement of research with the view to facilitating the understanding of natural phenomena and forces. Therefore, the Greeks saw the rise of philosophers that strived to explain different philosophical concepts. Some philosophers distinguish themselves due to the advancement of valuable ideas in nature, science, and philosophy, which influenced the lives of people. The application of their ideas in the society in the field of science and philosophy gave the philosophers recognition, which had lived until the current century. Some of the most influential Greek philosophers are discussed below in the paper.
Thales of Mellitus
Thales of Mellitus is the most significant figure among Greek philosophers. His role was pivotal in the ancient Greek philosophy and contributed to the rise of many thinkers, theorists, philosophers, dialects, and the Metaphysicians, in particular. For instance, Thales is considered the father of the ancient philosophy in Greece. For example, most of his ideas come from Aristotle’s worldview. Aristotle points out that Thales was the first person to develop the basic principles of philosophy, for example, the origin of matter. Furthermore, Thales is considered the founder of the natural philosophy school. The philosopher never limited his research and observations to the available knowledge. He focused on understanding and interpreting different aspects of mathematics, geography, philosophy, and scientific knowledge (Guthrie & Wallen, 2012). For instance, he developed a standard for theorizing the occurrence of things. Also, he advanced an idea that the water was the primary component of the universe. Among Greek philosophers, Thales commanded respect and esteem. He ventured into the geometrical research, which provided the basis for his measurement of the pyramids. He put forth a hypothesis that added meaning to the philosophy, in general, and led to the development of new ideas concerning nature. Therefore, he significantly contributed to the beginning and development of philosophy and science. Thales died in 547 (Guthrie & Wallen, 2012).
Aristotle of Stagira was a disciple of Plato. Among Plato's students, he was the most influential one. His interpretations and understanding of concepts were based on facts. For instance, he extensively utilized the learned experience of the own life. Aristotle's approach differed from the one of Plato, who preferred the analysis with the help of the perspective that was beyond the accessibility of the human special senses (Warner, 1958). Moreover, he was a creative writer and polymath with a rich imagination. Therefore, he re-wrote pre-established concepts and ideas in those fields of knowledge, with which he dealt, for example, science. In his times, the human knowledge was too generalized. In turn, Aristotle broke down the general knowledge; thus, he categorized it to biology, physics, ethics, and mathematics. The classification is still used in the classification of knowledge even today. Some of the most notable works of Aristotle include but are not limited to Prior Analytics, the Nichomachean Ethics, the Animal History, and the Metaphysics. Moreover, the Poetics, the Politics, and the Rhetoric are worth special attention, as well. Aristotle had a significant influence on the foundation and development of modern science. His contribution to both science and philosophy went beyond the Ancient Greece into the modern times.
Plato was a student of Socrates. He was considerably influenced by Socrates’ approach to philosophy. For instance, Socrates focused on the interpretation of philosophy based on the human reasoning. However, Plato adopted a different approach; he concentrated on the holistic combination of two major approaches of Socrates. The criteria comprised the pre-Socratic metaphysics and the religious nature regarding his ethical theology. The philosophy of Plato was based on a threefold approach, which consisted of physics, dialects, and ethics. His theory of forms provided a central mutual point for all approaches (Warner, 1958). According to Plato, the good was considered the highest form. Therefore, he regarded it as the primary cause of both the knowledge and existence. Concerning physics and its concepts, Plato agreed with most of Pythagoreans’ views. He put forward a hypothesis that once, the human soul used to live in a better place and now had to exist in a fallen world. In the future, his theory appeared to fit into Christianity perfectly well. The combination resulted in the popularity of Platonism all over the world. However, Platonism introduced an element of Platonic love that conceded homosexual relationships that were not acceptable in Christianity. He wrote some influential works, including, the Republic which was a mix of ethical aspects, some concepts of metaphysics, and political philosophy. Such an interesting combination contributed to the development of a systematic and meaningful philosophy that was universally applicable.
He provided a new perspective of attaining practical results by the application of philosophy in daily activities. There was no such approach in the pre-Socratic philosophy. Philosophers before Socrates focused on the interpretation and assimilation of physical speculations. However, Socrates changed this method; in such a manner, he strived to establish an ethical system based on the human reasoning rather than mythological and theological doctrines. Furthermore, the philosopher did not regurgitate ideas according to own interpretations. He concentrated on questioning people concerning their beliefs; thus, he tried to find the meaning of virtues by communicating with those that asserted the possession of such traits. Socrates’ ideas gave him not only followers but also enemies. His realistic and practical approach and philosophical beliefs led to his execution by the court (Guthrie & Wallen, 2012). The judges claimed that Socrates was engaged in the corruption of the youth. Among his students, there were Plato and Xenophone.
Pythagoras was more famous for his theories in mathematics rather than in philosophy. For example, he advanced the geometrical theorem in mathematics that became known as the Pythagoras Theorem. His name has been famous since the times of the pre-Socratic society. Pythagoras is also credited with the foundation of a philosophical school, which enabled him to acquire many disciples. He used the school in establishing mutual harmony between the real life and practical concepts of philosophy. His teachings also covered the issues concerning the rules of living and food for the daily consumption. Unlike the philosophers of the time, Pythagoras related the world to a place of perfect harmony (Guthrie & Wallen, 2012). Therefore, in his teachings, he advocated the ways, which people could use in order to lead a harmonious life.
Zeno devoted his life to interpreting and explaining different puzzles and paradoxes regarding the motion and plurality. For instance, he tried explaining the contradicting conclusions, which had existed in the current world before the development of logic. Furthermore, he defended and developed Parmenides’ philosophical ideas. Zeno had also propounded paradoxes, which became a subject of debate to philosophers of the later generations. Most of the contemporary arguments regarding his paradoxes led to the infinite division of the space and time. For example, he asserted that if a distance existed, a half of the postulated distance also exists (Kirk & Schofield, 1983). He was among the first philosophers to show and explain the existence of the concept of infinity.
Empedocles was an influential figure in the pre-Socratic era. He wrote poems that influenced later poets, including Lucretius. He advanced an assertion regarding the four element theory. The theory stated that any matter comprised four elements: the water, earth, fire, and air. His theory was a valuable postulate in the field of particle physics. In turn, his ideas contradicted the postulates of Parmenides. For example, he rejected the existence of space or a void. He also theorized that there were opposing motive forces that were involved in the development of the world. For instance, Empedocles put forth the ideas that love and strife played a pivotal role in the union and separation (Kirk and Schofield, 1983). Furthermore, he was among the first philosophers to give an account of the evolution in the development of species.
Anaximander played a pivotal role in the ancient geography and biology. He is also credited with being among the first prominent philosophical writers. Furthermore, he developed the first concept of an open universe. In such a manner, Anaximander withdrew from the notion of the closed world; thus, he was the first speculative astronomer in the history of the humankind. He also spread and developed views of his teacher. For example, he offered a principle, which he believed to be the foundation of the universe (Guthrie & Wallen, 2012). Unlike Thales, Anaximander believed that the basis comprised of an apeiron, which was the primary source of everything. This idea played a significant role as a pivotal differentiation point between opposites, for example, the light and the dark.
Anaxagoras was an important figure of the pre-Socratic era. He taught in Athens. Most of his philosophical works focused on nature. Therefore, he presented ideas that contrasted the traditional beliefs and worldview of people; thus, they endangered his life. The philosopher is considered the first person to establish philosophy in Athens (Guthrie & Wallen, 2012). In his concept of nature, he explained that the universe was an undifferentiated mass unless it acted upon by a spiritual force, which he named nuos. According to Anaxagoras, things that existed in the physical world contained an element of everything. In other words, he stated that nothing existed in its pure form.
He was a follower of Pythagoras. His works include a poem “On Nature” (Guthrie & Wallen, 2012). His philosophical works tried to unravel the contradictory statement of “is it or is it not?” He indicated that anything that existed had existed before because nothing could have developed from nothing.
Other Greek Philosophers that influenced the development and understanding of ideologies regarding science and philosophy include Antisthenes and Heraclitus. The evolution of philosophical concepts and critical thinking has led to the development of knowledge that is relevant in today's world, as well (Guthrie & Wallen, 2012). Philosophers developed various approaches, which tried to explain the philosophical puzzles and paradoxes of the universe. Moreover, they enhanced the interpretation of ideologies in such fields as natural science and metaphysics, thus, the evolution of philosophy as a whole.
History of Democracy
It is believed that democracy and basic concepts of the Constitution originated in the Ancient Athens. However, evidence indicates that democracy existed in other parts of the World before the 5th century (Kalyvas, 1996). Other forms of rule include oligarchy, monarchy, aristocracy, and tyranny. Scholars assert that democratic governments were first used in the areas other than the ancient Greece. In other words, democracy was born in such regions as the Middle East and Egypt and then developed in Greece.
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Some scholars, including Thorkild Jacobsen, studied the first democracy in pre-Babylonian Mesopotamia on the basis of the Sumerian epic and other historical records and myths. In this form of democracy, the power or authority to rule belonged to a few free males. Moreover, the power structure in this government was loose; thus the governmental functions were less specialized. For instance, in Mesopotamia, the duties of the government were determined by young men and the council of elders (Saxonhouse, 1996). They possessed the powers and final political authority; thus, the ruler had to consult them before the execution of any essential functions in the society.
The scholars indicate that democratic institutions existed in the Ganas, Sanghas, and the Independent Indian Republic before the 4th century (Kalyvas, 1996). However, there is no clear evidence to support their existence in the Independent India. The Gana structure was characterized by the presence of a monarch, who was referred to as Raja, and an assembly, which made the state decisions. The two worked in a close coordination in executing their mandate.
At the ancient times, Greece was divided into several independent states that were called poleis. Most poleis, including Sparta, were oligarchies. For instance, the government of Sparta was divided into the diarchy (the two kings of Sparta), the Gerousia (the Elders), the ephors (Citizen Representatives), and the Apella (the Spartan assembly). The kings of Sparta headed the government. However, the kings were chosen from separate lines; thus, a dual kingship was created. It helped to reduce the power of the executive. When it came to matters of the judiciary, such functions were shared between the royal kings and the class of officials who were members of the Gerousia. These individuals were then mandated to serve for as long as they lived. (Saxonhouse, 1996). The Apella elected the member of Gerousia and either rejected or implemented the proposals from them. The ephors served for a year and had to check actions of kings and other officials of the government. The Spartan Constitution gave the people the power to criticize the decisions of the ruler. Also, it provided them with authority to exile or depose kings.
It is considered the place where democracy began. Athens was founded in the 7th century. It was characterized by the dominance of aristocratic democracy, which led to the development of exploitation, which resulted in socio-economic and political problems. At the time, a number of political revolutions disrupted traditional aristocracies in the region, including Sparta. However, Lycurgus introduced constitutional reforms, which changed the state of democracy. In Athens, they turned to a mediator, Solon, in order to integrate different factions in the state after the unrest that was experienced between the rich and the poor.
Solon worked towards satisfying the needs of both parties. For instance, he tried to alleviate poverty without suppressing the wealthy and limiting their privileges of in the Athenian society. Therefore, Solon divided the Athenians into different property classes. These classes were tasked with different responsibilities and duties (Saxonhouse, 1996). He influenced the formation and composition of various governmental bodies. In this system, the citizens were allowed to vote and become members of the Assembly, Ecclesia. The Assembly, being the sovereign body in Athens, was mandated to pass laws, elect officials, and attend the court appeals regarding important decisions. Solon played an instrumental role in the development of timocratic and democratic forms of governments in Athens.
The government structure of Rome is considered the beginning of democracy; it existed before the 4th century. The Roman Constitution utilized the political structure of Sparta that was characterized by the existence of a mixed constitution. For instance, the system was made of the Senate and the Assemblies. Therefore, consuls, who headed the government, exercised power over both civil and military decisions (Saxonhouse, 1996). The Senate was mandated with passing decrees, which were considered an official advice to the court.
History of the French Democracy
The history of the French democracy can be divided into three stages: the age of Enlightenment, the French Revolution, and the Republic. In the age of Enlightenment, the ideas of the French philosopher, Jean Calas, were rather popular (Thomson, 1964). In this period, the people enjoyed the freedom of thought and expressing their opinions regarding the functions of the government. Nevertheless, Montesquieu claimed the need for the separation of constitutional powers in France. In his turn, Calas advocated the religion of the state. He belonged to the Protestant faith. He was falsely accused of murdering his son, who desired to convert to Catholicism. As a result, the philosopher was executed in 1762. In 1763, the judgment against Calas became the foundation for the Treatise on Tolerance (Furet, 1995). In this period, the contribution of the French philosopher was based on the principles of denouncing intolerance, advocated the freedom of conscience, the education of all citizens, and the separation of powers.
The 16th and the 17th century were referred to as an age of intolerance, which was marked by religious hatred. At this time, people were deprived of their freedom of expression (Isakhan & Stockwell, 2011). In such a manner, all desires of people had to fit the king’s wishes and decisions. The death of King Louis in the 14th century marked the activation of a number of philosopher movements, which aimed at liberating the thoughts of the French people. Therefore, in the 18th century, such philosophers as Diderot issued valuable works that strived to enlighten citizens (Thompson, 1964). The scholars asserted that the light of knowledge had to replace the darkness of obscurantism. They indicated that it was the only way to the liberation of human thoughts.
Another influential French philosopher, Charles-Louis Montesquieu, advocated the separation of powers, as well. According to the philosopher, such a step was significant in the eradication of injustices. He argued that the concentration of all three branches of government in a single pair of hands resulted in the creation of a highly unfair monarchical rule. His ideas were inspired by the Athenian democracy.
The French Revolution helped in transforming the state of democracy in France. For instance, it led to the foundation of an assembly, which consisted of elected members, and adoption of the constitution. The Legislative Assembly implemented laws, which aimed at reducing the inequality between the members of three classes of the French society (Wright, 1950). Therefore, the Revolution played a pivotal role in the elimination of aristocratic and monarchical forms of government in France.
The French Revolution
The Revolution that occurred in 1789-1799 brought significant changes in both the French society and government. Moreover, it influenced the state of democracy in the rest of Europe. Most importantly, it led to the introduction of democratic ideals in France. On the one hand, the Revolution did not make the French nation a democracy. On the other hand, it marked the end of the supreme rule that had been imposed by the kings of France many centuries ago (Lefebvre, 1962). Also, it helped in strengthening the French middle class. In Europe, the Revolution ensured that the privileged groups, including the kings and the nobles, would not seize power or use their authority without control. Therefore, it limited the ignorance of liberty and equality ideals by the privileged societal members.
The French Revolution began with the financial crisis of the nation and a quick transformation of the movement for the reform and change. An indicative event was the capture of the Bastille by the Paris crowd. The Bastille was a royal fortress, which in itself was a symbol of oppression. After the events, the elected legislature took over and controlled the government and its activities. The then king, King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, his wife, were executed (Goodwin, 2016). In the period, it was referred as the Reign of Terror, and many people in authority were executed. It ended when one of the French generals, Napoleon Bonaparte, took power.
The beginning of the Revolution was facilitated by specific aspects of the political, economic, and social life. Such conditions included financial problems that were caused by warfare costs, as well as the general dissatisfaction among the social classes of the French lower classes (Carlyle and Belloc, 1962). Furthermore, the development of the public interest in new ideologies also contributed to the rise of the Revolution.
In France, there existed divisions in the practice of law among social classes. The legal divisions caused certain discontent among the groups. The law divided the French society into subgroups. The first one comprised the clergy; the second one included the nobles, while the third one was made of the rest of people in France. The third estate consisted mainly of peasants. The income per head of this group was so little that they struggled to feed their families. In addition, this estate comprised the working class that made up the middle class. They included the officials of government, lawyers, and the merchants. The members of the third class resented the advantages that were enjoyed only by the first and second estates (Goodwin, 2016). For instance, the nobles and the clergy paid no taxes. Therefore, all the burden of filling the treasury and maintaining the two other classes was shouldered on the members of the third class. Also, these people faced a problem of the social status in that their position in the French society was not recognized.
The monarchical structure of France was also influenced by the development of new ideas concerning the role of the government. Under the existing system, the power and authority of the king were unlimited. The governance of the monarch was based on the divine right, which was based on the idea that the power to rule came from a supreme being, God. The parliamentary aristocrats had to check the decisions and action of the king. The situation changed in the 1700s (Carlyle and Belloc, 1962). French philosophers and writers suggested that the authority to govern the nation had to be passed to people. Moreover, the financial crisis of France was a result of the seven-year warfare that lasted in 1756-1763. The country also ran into debt due to the costs of funding the American Revolution of 1775-1783 (Carlyle and Belloc, 1962). The French government went bankrupt in 1788. However, the Paris Government allowed the king to increase taxes in order to obtain the required sum or increase borrowing by Convening the Estates-General meeting.
The Estates-General comprised representatives from all three classes. The last time they met was in 1614. At the meeting, which was called by the king, the third class insisted on the merge of all estates into a national assembly; this idea strongly opposed the demands of the first two classes. For instance, the nobles and members of the first two estates suggested that the matters should be taken separately by the classes and hence the voting was to be held. Therefore, representatives of the third estate established the French National Assembly in 1789 (Lefebvre, 1962). Their declaration was followed by the gathering and pledging at a tennis court, which aimed at maintaining their unity until they had drafted the Constitution. The vow became to be commonly referred to as the Tennis Court Oath. Finally, the king allowed the union of three estates to form the National Assembly. However, he began to gather other groups with the aim of breaking up the assembly. In the meantime, the French masses took action. In such a manner, in 1789, the Parisian crowds took over Bastille while looking for the ammunition and weapons for the self-defense against the army of the king (Sonenscher, 2009). At the same time, some Parisian leaders formed a revolutionary city government. Also, the country experienced some massive uprisings of the middle class against the nobles. The riots led to the emigration of the liberal groups from France. The uprisings were significant it that they prevented the disbandment of the National Assembly by the king.
In August 1789, the French National Assembly developed the four decrees of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The adoption of the decrees proved essential in the abolishment of feudal dues, which members of the third estate, for example, peasants owed to landlords. It also led to the abolition of the local privileges and tax advantages, which were enjoyed by the nobles and the members of the clergy. The Declaration was crucial in that it facilitated the provision of equal rights to all citizens. The rights covered the aspects of security, liberty, oppression resistance, and security (Goodwin, 2016). These events led to the drafting of the Constitution, which limited the French Monarchical structure. Thus, a one-house legislature was established. It resulted in the division of France into 83 departments, which had to elect own representatives to the government. However, the voting rights were still limited to citizens, who managed to pay a particular tax amount.
The implementation of the Constitution enabled the Assembly to seize the properties owned by the Roman Catholic Church. The Church possessed large tracts of land that were sold to the people of the middle class and the French merchants; thus, it raised money that was used for paying a part of the country’s debt. Furthermore, it reorganized the Church; in such a manner, a new system required the election of the Church leaders by voting. Also, the Assembly facilitated the closure of the Church convents; hence, it contributed to the development of the religious tolerance to such groups as the Jews and Protestants. It also influenced the court reforms in France. The changes required the election of the judges for the system of justice. The Assembly dissolved in September 1791; this event marked the end of the revolution (Lefebvre, 1962). Its disbandment aimed at creating a way for the smooth operation of the democratically elected Legislative Assembly, which mostly comprised of the middle-class representatives.
However, the new Assembly faced several challenges, as well. For instance, the stability of the government depended on the cooperation of the legislative body and the monarch. The king strongly opposed the idea of the revolution. Therefore, he cooperated with the aristocrats and other rulers to plot on how he would overthrow the newly formed government. The government also faced problems due to the division of the public opinion. For example, the followers of the Catholic faith were angered by the religious ideas of the revolution. In addition, other French citizens demanded imposing stricter measures against opponents of the Revolution. Moreover, it faced challenges of the foreign threat. For example, France proclaimed war on Austria and Prussia in 1792 (Sonescher, 2009). The two nations advocated the restoration of the monarchy and position of the clergy. Austria and Prussia won and invaded some of the French territories. Due to the developments, the Parisian and other revolutionaries from different regions of France demanded the dethronement of the king.
Therefore, in August 1792, the Parisians captured King Louis XVI together with his family. His removal marked an end to the constitutional monarchy in France. After this event, the Assembly suggested that the National Convention was to be chosen by all the males aged 21 years and above in France. The government was also under threat since the foreign armies would continuously attack the French armies. The Parisians were also exposed to a danger of an uprising by the ever increasing prison inmates. Therefore, the Parisians decided to execute more than 1000 detainees (Lefebvre, 1962). The massacres enhanced many proponents of the revolution both in France and the rest of Europe to change their mind. Eventually, the French armies began to win some battles and drive away the invaders.
The French Revolution had a significant influence in that it brought the French nation into opposition with other countries of Europe. For instance, the monarchy in other countries feared the spread of the democratic ideals from France. The Revolution also influenced the French people in that it caused the development of extreme disagreements in the people concerning the best system of governance for their country (Goodwin, 2016). It also had a long-lasting effect regarding the foundation of a unified state, and a free society dictated by the dominance of landowners and representatives of the middle class. Also, it provided a foundation for the formation of a strong central government in France.
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Democracy as a Universal Value but not a Western Product
Democracy is considered a universal value rather than a western product. For instance, the reasons behind the universality of freedom include the mix of culture and other factors, for example, the law and leadership (Sen, 1999). The western countries were among the first states to experience the factions of democracy; thus, they made a huge step forward. These values are essential in that they promote the personal development and ensure the common good of the society.
For example, countries in the Middle East, which form the Arab World, have strongly resisted the practice of democracy for centuries (Sen, 1999). Their governance has been characterized by the autocracy, cultural, and regional warfare, which inhibit the understanding of the democratic values. Therefore, this conflict prevented the spread of democracy into those regions. Furthermore, the values of democracy are adaptable and not tradable. The leaders in the Arab world and Arab merchants have prevented the implementation of justice since it would decrease their authority.
Also, the African region indicates how significant it is for people to understand that the political life is based on the public ideas and not rational individualism. Therefore, the surprising power of citizens is based on their possession of a privacy degree and non-domination, which enhances their course of action (Sen, 1999). Their power also depends on the ability of democracy to promote flexibility and responsiveness, which facilitate the accommodation of unpredictable behaviors.
The philosophers played a major role in the advancement of knowledge that helped to explain different phenomena. For instance, they have promoted the Enlightenment in the areas of ethics, religion, politics, and democracy, which are fundamental aspects of human life. In turn, the Enlightenment led to the development of the Revolution in France, which aimed at ensuring the equality of all people from different classes (Mathis, 1962). Moreover, the philosophers have influenced the livelihoods of people by encouraging lives that are to be ruled by virtues, which will ensure the common good of the whole society. Among other contributions of philosophers, the development of knowledge is considered the most crucial one. The experience promoted the Enlightenment, which proved significant in facilitating inventions. Studies indicate that the philosophical knowledge has played a major role in the development of ideologies of scientists; thus, inventions resulted in the industrial revolution across Europe. Also, the nature and existence of democracy are characterized by its universality. The values of democracy can be adopted and practiced as they focus on the promotion of freedom and good governance, which does not suppress the rights of people (Sen, 1999). In such a manner, the universality of democracy aims at eliminating the governance that is either monarchical or aristocratic by nature.