Human Rights Quarterly, Volume 39, Number 1, February 2017, pp. 130-141 (Article). Written by Vincenzo Ferrone. Published by Johns Hopkins University Press. Vincenzo Ferrone is a history professor at the University of Turin and studies the Enlightenment Period (Ferrone). In this article, Vincenzo Ferrone discusses other successful historians' enlightenment research regarding human rights and compares their ideas with his own (Ferrone). Ferrone recognizes that many of the Enlightenment philosophers advocated for "deism", connecting morals and religion into rights, protecting individuals and their pursuit of happiness (Ferrone). Throughout human history, there has been a major struggle for equality and the successful structure of society, but over time the Enlightenment philosophers have effectively contributed to the philosophical shift that has expanded the rights of humans beings and has created the idea of freedom in modern society (Ferrone).
In 1765, Joseph Wright of Derby painted "A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery" (Fox). Joseph Wright illustrated the image of an orrery, a solar system model exemplifying the rotation of planets around the sun (Fox). Wright focused on the "compelling narrative" from each of the figures actions and intense interest in the orrery (Fox). The oil painting demonstrates the shift in thinking, during the Enlightenment, from "traditional religious models of the universe" to more science and reason (Fox). _________________________________________________ "A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery ( in which a Lamp is put in Place of the Sun)" expresses the expansion of advancements in society and shows a group of individuals discussing new philosophies (Fox). Art and other forms of images were used to influence, inform and inspire others to adapt Enlightenment thinking (Fox). Wright's painting specifically references a scientific aspect in the Enlightenment, however, it could be interpreted as a broad representation of the emergence of new ideas (Bristow).
In 1689, John Locke published The Two Treatises. The following quote is from Two Treatises of Government (The Second Treatises of Civil Government, Chapter IV. Of Slavery, pg. 241). . . "The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but to have only the law of Nature for his rule. The liberty of man in society is to be under no other legislative power but that established by consent in the commonwealth, nor under the dominion of any will, or restraint of any law, but what that legislative shall enact according to the trust put in it" (Warren). "The Two Treatises" emerged from John Locke experiences in England during the 1680s, concerning the "Popish Plot" and major splits in views over the intense controversy over a possible assassination of King Charles II or a possible assassination of his brother, James (Rogers). Locke composed "The Two Treatises" as a response to the political controversy, however, the writing was used in future political outtakes (Rogers). John Locke developed the writing from his Catholic background and his beliefs in natural law and the natural rights that are given to you by God (Rogers). ___________________________________________________________ In the book, John Locke discusses how every human should live in a world of equality (Rogers). He also elaborated by saying that there is no natural "hierarchy", and so no human should be above or under another person (Rogers). Locke emphasizes that each person owns their own body and no one is entitled to own anyone else (Rogers). Further analysis suggests that Locke also believed in having a limited government and the importance of individualism (Rogers).
The marble sculpture by Jean-Antoine Houdon was made in 1778 and depicted the famous French philosopher, Voltaire (Voltaire). In February 1778, Voltaire arrived in Paris, France, and was greeted by many admirers of his successful pursuits (Voltaire). One of these admirers was Jean-Antoine Houdon, who was able to meet with Voltaire to develop the sculpture (Voltaire). Unfortunately, Voltaire died shortly after his arrival, but Houdon was still able to capture the image and energy of Voltaire. Houdon portrayed the detail of Voltaire's aging complexion, radiating wit, and his humorous smile (Voltaire). ___________________________________________________________ The sculpture of Voltaire is a prime illustration of Voltaire's personality and beliefs. The detail exhibits that Voltaire had worked hard and encompassed much intellectual intelligence (Shank). Voltaire worked his whole life developing political and social reforms, as well as philosophies in which he exclaimed his ideas of liberty, human freedom, rationalism, emphasis on the freedom of speech, and humanities role on earth (Shank). Voltaire was involved in many disagreements and disputes during his lifetime but still was able to present ideas that are used in modern day societal and political progressions and reforms (Shank).
Jean-Jaques Rousseau wrote, "The Social Contract or Principles of Political Right" in 1762 (A beginner's guide). Rousseau discussed his approach to the ideal Political structure that gives people a right to have control and not be enslaved (The Social Contract). Significant fundamentals of democracies and ideas of everyone having the opportunity to have their own voice was presented (The Social Contract). "The Social Contract or Principles of Political Right" is a prime example of the enlightenment movement, pointing out societies flaws and inequalities (The Social Contract). _______________________________________________________ Rousseau emphasized that a change needed to be made in society (Rousseau). He described the inequalities and detriments of society as a "Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains" (Rousseau). Rousseau implies that many men become superior to others, which results in a loss of happiness, pleasure, and purpose for those who are oppressed (Rousseau). He compares a man's natural liberty to his civil liberty and explains that humans ultimately should establish their equal rights through a "convention" and "legal right" (Rousseau).