Freedom of Expression and the Enlightenment

Guider, Alison (2015) Freedom of Expression and the Enlightenment. Undergraduate thesis, under the direction of Jeffrey Watt from History, The University of Mississippi.

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Abstract

This thesis concerns Enlightenment and pre-Enlightenment views of freedom of expression, including topics such as toleration, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press. It then looks at how these views shaped some of the ideas that emerged from the American and French Revolution. The conclusions drawn here are drawn from document-based research, both primary and secondary sources. The Enlightenment, although primarily concentrated in the eighteenth century, actually had what one might call precursors in the seventeenth century, including John Locke, Benedict de Spinoza, and Pierre Bayle. These thinkers helped set the stage for Enlightenment thinkers such as Voltaire, Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, and Karl Friedrich Bahrdt. All of these thinkers wrote on freedom of expression, but they did not always agree on how far this freedom should be extended, which represented a division between moderate and Radical Enlightenment. Both strains of the Enlightenment, however, were read by both the American and French Revolutionaries and shaped the ideas of freedom of expression that came out of these two revolutions, including protections of free press. Although the Enlightenment does have a bit of a complicated legacy, modern day protections of freedom of expression would not exist without it; therefore, an in-depth study of the origins of these protections is worthwhile.

Item Type: Thesis (Undergraduate)
Creators: Guider, Alison
Student's Degree Program(s): BA in History, Public Policy Leadership
Thesis Advisor: Jeffrey Watt
Thesis Advisor's Department: History
Institution: The University of Mississippi
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Depositing User: Ms Alison Guider
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2015 13:45
Last Modified: 29 Apr 2015 13:45
URI: http://thesis.honors.olemiss.edu/id/eprint/281

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