36 , 2016-09-12 , 金沢大学大学院人間社会環境研究科 = Graduate School of Human and Socio-Enviromental Studies Kanazawa University
This paper discusses how Enlightenment thoughts were the driving force that radically changed the old hierarchical system of society into modem civil society during the revolutionary 17th and 18th centuries in Western Europe. Regarding the problem, Enlightenment thoughts are analyzed from two aspects. First, destructive aspects of the thoughts are pointed out, as these brought about the demise of the old hierarchical society. Second, constructive aspects are focused on, as Enlightenment thoughts contributed toward building a free and equal society after the revolutionary ages. This paper refers to the rise of the natural sciences, the French Enlightenment, and the civil war in England and France. They have skeptical, critical, and rationalistic minds in common, which are peculiar to Enlightenment thoughts. The paper emphasizes the rediscovery of the social contract as the most important contribution of Enlightenment thoughts. Modem civil society is built on ideas of consent. Civil society owes the realization of liberty and equality among all its members to the ideas of awakening reason, esteeming humanity, and qualifying progressiveness in Enlightenment thoughts.