PHILOSOPHICAL IDEAS AND THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
- Students will understand that the basic political and social
philosophies of Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Rousseau have
influenced the ways societies have organized themselves.
- Students will learn that revolutions are influenced by ideas.
- Students will learn that the Enlightenment ideas of social justice and
equality influenced the French Revolution.
- chalk and chalkboard
- overhead projector
- overheads - overheads outline the basic ideas of each philosopher.
Make copies of the overheads that are included. Make sure to
explain each difficult point with examples, details ...
- Today we are going to expand on an idea that we learned while studying the
Renaissance. Let's begin by outlining what we learned by thinking about
this questions - "What was the Renaissance?" (a rebirth of Greek and
- Write the responses on the board and develop a quick summary. (That
the Reformation was a rebirth of ideas.)
- Put the following quote by Rousseau on an overhead transparency:
"Man is born free, but everywhere is in chains." Ask the students
to think about the quote but do not explain it now.
B. MAIN PROCEDURES
- As a prelude to the discussion, ask students the following questions:
- Are people born good or bad?
- Are all people born equal?
- What is government?
- Why do societies have governments? *If the majority of the class
believes that people are born good, then ask what the purpose of government
is. What if they are born bad/evil?
- Who has the right to power in society? (ie. the majority, the
ruler, everyone ....)
- Tell the students that the topic for today until Friday is the French
- Tell the students that today we are going to focus on ideas that were to
influence the French Revolution. Their ideas have influenced the way we
think about government today.
- Briefly go through each overhead, individually focusing on the following
minor, introductory questions:
- Who is each philosopher?
- What was each philosopher's nationality?
- What were the names of their major publications? How long ago did
- What were their main social and political ideas? (in simple
- Note: relate each philosopher to the questions outlined in #1 of
the main procedures.
- After the presentation of the overheads, organize students into pairs.
Distribute a summary of the overheads to each pair. Ask the
- What are the differences between Hobbes' and Montesquieu's views of
- According to Locke, what are the roles of government and of individuals
- What are the main philosophical differences between Rousseau and Hobbes?
- Do you agree with Voltaire that people have the right to say anything?
- Which philosopher's ideas do you agree with most? Why?
- Note: These are difficult questions that may need some
explanation while the group process is developing.
- Which ideas do we see in practice today?
- What are some historical examples of these ideas?
- Which ideas can be associated with certain countries or political
ideologies -- democratic, socialist, autocratic, communist?
- To what extent should these ideas be practised?
For a summary of each philosopher's ideas to set on the overhead, click
- Put Voltaire's quote - "Man is born free, but everywhere is in chains",
back on the overhead projector. Ask the students what they think the
quote means. Stress that this idea (lack of equality and freedom) will
be a major theme of the next lessons.
- Summarize the main point that the ideas that we have been discussing
influenced the French Revolution.
A. EVALUATION OF STUDENTS
* If the students were able to arrive at the conclusion stated in
objectives #2 and #3 then the lesson was a success.
- Did the students respond to the guide questions relating to the overheads?
- Did the students pay attention to the overheads and take notes?
- Did the students participate cooperatively and stay focused during the
- Did the students seem to summarize their discussions well?
B. SELF EVALUATION
- Was I able to remain calm even though this was my first lesson?
- Did I ask enough relevant questions during the overheads?
- Was I able to respond to the questions that students asked? If not,
how did I handle it?
- Was I able to keep the class flowing, on task, focused?
- Did I manage time successfully?
- Did I properly conclude the lesson and prepare the students for the next
- Did we feel a sense of excitement over some of the ideas considered during