Foundations of the Modern Age
Fall Semester 2001

Study Questions for the First Exam

1. Using the texts of Vergerius and Pico, explain the nature of Renaissance humanism. You should include a consideration the humanists' objectives, their ideals, and their assumptions about human nature. Was Machiavelli a humanist? In what ways are his views similar or different from other humanists?

2. What were the origins of the Reformation? In what ways did Luther's views of salvation and the church depart from the views of the Medieval Church?

3. Reconstruct John Locke's argument defending the Glorious Revolution. You should include a consideration of his views of the "state of nature," "law of nature," the terms of the social contract, the nature of government, and the rights, liberties, and obligations of the "people." How specifically does Locke's theory "establish the throne of our great restorer, our present King William . . . make good his title, in the consent of the people . . . [and] justify to the world the people of England, whose love of their just and natural rights, with their resolution to preserve them, saved the nation when it was on the very brink of slavery and ruin"?

4. Compare Isaac Newton's explanation of the cosmos (its structure and laws) with the ancient-medieval explanation of the cosmos. What were the scientific or physical problems posed by Copernicus's heliocentric theory? In what ways did Newton's laws of motion solve those problems? According to Newton, under what conditions are scientific "propositions" to be considered "as accurately or very nearly true"? According to Newton, what are the limitations of scientific "propositions"?

5. Write an essay showing how Voltaire, Hume, Montesquieu, and Smith illustrate the objectives, ideals, and beliefs of the philosophes (as articulated by Greer and Lewis).

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