The US Constitution establishes a written foundation for the country to run on by a rational and scientific approach to religious, social, political, and economic issues also known as the enlightenment. The enlightenment defines as the reason, thought, and power of individuals to solve problems. The enlightenment reached its peak in France in the mid-1700s. The social critics of this period were known as philosophes, the French word for philosophers. The philosophers believed that people could apply reason to all aspects of life. The most brilliant and influential French philosopher named Voltaire published more than 70 books of political essays, philosophy, and drama. Another French influential writer named Montesquieu devoted himself to the study of political liberty. An Italian philosopher named Cesare Bonesana Beccaria turned his thoughts to the justice system. The last great philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau, was passionately committed to individual freedom. Each of these Enlightenment writers challenged long-held ideas about society. To begin with, scholars and philosophers began to re-evaluate old notions about other aspects of the society in the wake of the Scientific Revolution. They sought new insight into the underlying beliefs regarding government, religion, economics, and education. Their efforts spurred the Enlightenment, a new intellectual movement that stressed reason and thought and the power of individuals to solve problems. Also known as the Age of Reason, the movement reached its height in the mid-1700s and brought great change to many aspects of Western civilization. The Enlightenment started from some key ideas put forth by two English political thinkers of the 1600s, Thomas Hobbes and John Locke. Thomas Hobbes expressed his views in a work called Leviathan (1651). Hobbes argued that to escape such a bleak life, people had to hand over their rights to a strong ruler. In exchange, they gained law and order. Hobbes called this agreement by which people created a government the social contract. Paris, France officially became the meeting place for people who wanted to discuss politics and ideas and solve problems. The main ideas of the Enlightenment were government, religion, economics, education, reason, and thought. This intellectual movement also emphasized individualism and skepticism. Skepticism of religious dogma, the institutionalized church, government authority, and even skepticism of the nature of reality was very common among the people. As well as, the idea that man is endowed with certain liberties or rights. Next, the most brilliant and influential of the philosophers was Francois Marie Arouet. Using the pen name Voltaire, he published more than 70 books of political essays, philosophy, and drama. Voltaire’s lifespan lasted from 1694-1778 in France. Despite his troubles, Voltaire never stopped fighting for tolerance, reason, freedom of religious ,belief, and freedom of speech. In fact, two of his ideas (freedom of thought and expression & religious freedom) are both guaranteed in the US Bill of Rights and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen. Another influential French writer, the Baron de Montesquieu, devoted himself to the study of political liberty. Montesquieu believed that Britain was the best-governed and most politically balanced country of his own day. This idea comes from the concept of the British having executive power, legislative power, and judicial power. Each of these powers were divided up among the different branches: the king and his ministers, members of Parliament, and the judges of the English courts. Montesquieu called this concept separation of powers. However, he oversimplified he British system. It did not actually separate powers this way. His individual idea became a part of his most famous book, On the Spirit of Laws (1748). In this book, Montesquieu proposed that separation of powers would keep any individual or group from gaining total control of the government. This idea later became known as checks and balances. Lastly, Montesquieu’s ideas about separation of powers and checks and balances became the basis for the United States Constitution. To continue, an Italian philosopher named Cesare Bonesana Beccaria turned his thoughts to the justice system. He is well remembered for his treatise On Crimes and Punishments (1764), which condemned torture and the death penalty, and was a founding work in the field of penology, the study of the punishment of crime and of prison management. Beccaria believed that laws existed to preserve social order, not to avenge crimes. Beccaria regularly criticized common abuses of justice. These abuses included torturing of witnesses and suspects, irregular proceedings in trials, and punishments that were arbitrary. He argued that the accused suspect should receive a speedy trial, and that torture is unnecessary and should not be used. Basically, he believed that the degree of punishment should be based on the seriousness of the crime. In addition, Beccaria also wanted capital punishment to be abolished. Responsively, his promoting of criminal justice was recognized and used in the Bill of Rights of the US Constitution in which it protects the rights of the accused and prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. The last great philosopher, Jean Jacques Rousseau, was passionately committed to individual freedom. In 1762, he explained his political philosophy in a book called The Social Contract. Rousseau’s view of the social contract consisted of an agreement among free individuals to create a society and a government. He argued that civilization corrupted people’s natural goodness. He believed that the only good government was one that was freely formed by the people and guided by the “general will” of he society. This is also known as a direct democracy. Under this type of government, the citizens agree to give up some of their freedom in favor of the common good. Rousseau also argued that legitimate government came from the consent of the governed. In addition, he believed that all people were equal and that titles of nobility should be abolished. Rousseau’s ideas inspired many of the leaders of the French Revolution who overthrew the monarchy in 1789. With that being said, all political power, according to Rousseau, must reside with the people. There can be no separation of powers, as Montesquieu proposed. The people, meeting together, will deliberate individually on laws and then by majority vote find the general will. Rousseau’s idea was later embodied in the words “We the people . . .” at the beginning of the U.S. Constitution. In conclusion, the US Constitution establishes a written foundation for the country to run on by a rational and scientific approach to religious, social, political, and economic issues also known as the enlightenment. The social critics of this period believed that people could apply reason to all aspects of life. Voltaire who published more than 70 books of political essays, philosophy, and drama; Montesquieu who devoted himself to the study of political liberty; Beccaria who turned his thoughts to the justice system; and Rousseau who was passionately committed to individual freedom all played significant roles in the history of the Enlightenment era. In fact, each of these Enlightenment writers challenged long-held ideas about society. They examined such principles as the divine right of monarchs, the union of church and state, and the existence of unequal social classes. They held these beliefs up to the light of reason and found them in need of reform.