Chapter 28 Web Questions

Mary Wollestonecraft (1759-1797)

Below please find a series of questions on Chapter 28: Revolutions and National States in the Atlantic World, as well as Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and Mary Wollstonecraft’s A False System of Education, written by your classmate, Lindsay Poulakos.

1) Two ideologies that emerged from the Enlightenment were conservatism and liberalism, which are both aimed toward improving society, but contrast in terms of implementation. How do these views conflict each other? What would be their take on abolishing slavery or on the rights of women? Which view was more beneficial to newly independent societies?

2) New ideas of freedom and equality quickly spread across the globe and sparked change and independence in Europe and in the Americas. These revolutionary changes were only applicable to white males, leaving an ongoing fight for the liberties of colored inhabitants and of women. What were some of the key elements that made the abolition of slavery and the procurement of women’s rights such slow and lengthy processes?

3) Nationalism was a powerful force in the nineteenth century that created a new form of identity for members of a nation. What are the origins of this idea of nationalism? How did this affect the views of societies towards each other and within themselves? Was nationalism a positive or negative influence?

Common Sense Questions:

4) Paine greatly opposed the institution of monarchy and of hereditary succession, which he strongly expresses in Common Sense. What are some of the arguments he makes to support his views? Are his reasons justifiable?

5) Paine utilizes several metaphors in his essay to deliver his argument, such as “We may as well assert, that because a child has thrived upon milk, that it is never to have meat…” Why do you think he utilized poetic language to explain his points? What audience do you think his essay was directed towards? Does use of this literary tool provide for a more convincing argument?

A False System of Education Question:

6) According to Mary Wollstonecraft, women’s education at that time lead to a weak mind, childish behavior and a submissive disposition. Do you think society has corrected this “false refinement” in our modern society by providing women with formal education? Or do publications such as magazines still promote the ideals Wollstonecraft so strongly opposed?


15 Comments on “Chapter 28 Web Questions”

  1. Madiha Rao says:

    1) Conservatism asserted that society should evolve slowly over time. One conservative philosopher Edmund Burke viewed that radical or revolutionary change could only lead to anarchy. Liberalists believed that pursuing equality and freedom would be good for society’s success. Liberalists thought conservatists were trying to favor the old status quo and liberalists believed that political and social theory shouldn’t stifle change but look after the best interests of society. I think conservatists would not support the abolition of slavery. The movement to abolish slavery would be considered too radical and since it threatened many slave owners, anarchy could result from angry slave owners. I don’t think women gaining rights would lead to anarchy but conservatists might not support the idea of women being too powerful. Liberalists might support the abolition of slavery if they saw the freedom and equality of slaves in the best interests of society. I think the liberalism view was most beneficial to newly independent states because a lot of people get rights such as freedom and equality and they have the power to run their government rather than have a king who claims to have divine power run it. The people have more freedom than ever before and can define their own societies and political institutions.

  2. Paine’s language was less poetic than it was directly accessible. Delivered more like a sermon and less like a densely-worded Enlightenment treatise, Paine aimed for the widest audience possible, although literacy rates still probably limited this mostly to established, white men. Expressing his ideas in the form of a pamphlet, Paine knew that his work could and would be widely distributed. As in the Declaration of Independence, Common Sense provides its readers with a litany of offenses committed by the English crown, but unlike the Declaration, Paine’s work made a point of appealing to the common man. As previously mentioned, he accomplished this through the use of metaphor. He also included Bilblical references to inspire faith in the burgeoning nation, and he references Protestant dissent to evidence that change and revolution were possible. Paine does make a convincing argument. By relating liberation from England to occurrences in the natural world, Paine makes accessible not only his words, but the idea of revolution itself. Not only do his ideas seem correct, they also seem to fall into a natural order of power. It seems that in his mind, secession from the British empire wasn’t just a possibility, it was a historical inevitability — the wheels had already been set in motion. What was needed now was a well-articulated expression of rage to inform and incite the people.

  3. Jemima Georges says:

    1) Conservatism and liberalism differ in many ways, one of them is the way they believe that society should be transformed. Conservatism believe that society should maintain a slow and steady process of transformation while liberals believe that when ever necessary, societal evolution should proceed in a quick revolutionary progression. Conservatives such as Edmund Burke believed that if any change was too drastic or impulsive, there would be social disorder. He believed in a gradual/natural change and condemned rebellious efforts that caused disorder or havoc. Another thing is that, liberalism is more concerned with freedom and representation, not imposing rights on others, and the equality for all individuals; on the other hand, conservatism seems to cater more to the upper class who are afraid of losing their freedoms and privileges.
    For the newly independent societies such as America, I believe that the liberals view would be more beneficial because the only reason, I believe, that conservatives were in support of this revolution was because it wasn’t as chaotic as the french revolution, if it was, I don’t think they would’ve supported it at all. (I think One of the reasons why the American revolution seemed less chaotic was being they were in a different place, it’s not like they were living in England where they probably would’ve been tightly supress Liberalism is more concerned with freedom and representation, not imposing rights on others, and the equality for all individuals.ed and at a closer vantage to their authorities. The fact that they were so far gave them an advantage to make their own plans, tactics, security, army etc, thus making it much easier to revolt against the British crown.) The liberals would have supported any emerging independent society no matter what.

  4. Jemima Georges says:

    6) Society has definitely corrected “false refinement” among women of this society, in fact, it’s more than improved, it’s revolutionized not only with formal education but in all aspects of society. Women are advancing in every field and in a lot of cases, more than men. Magazines have served as a tool to raise and praise the qualities of a woman. For example, whenever we see female soldiers on Time magazine, or female representatives of the government or female innovators, magazines allow these modern day pioneers to allow the world to see that females like males are human, yes physically and naturally we are different, but intellectually we can all accomplish the same things. But, at the same time that magazines do this, they also debase a woman’s value, and this opens the door for women to be seen as less than what they are. Not only are some depictions physically demoralizing, but it can make others think that women are intellectually inferior as well. So, as much Wollstonecraft, if she were alive today, would have been excited to see how far the views of women has changed, she probably would’ve been just as disappointed.

  5. YU,ZEXUN says:

    Question 6
    I think society has corrected this “false refinement” in our modern society by providing women with formal education. Before women had a formal education, women always represent a wife, house worker and guardian. (Take care of children) Because of some customs and traditions, women had no right to educate, and women usually treated as men accessory. In other words, men control women’s action and thought. Women couldn’t be hired, couldn’t vote, and couldn’t be a government officer, because people thought women have no enough ability to handle those jobs, women only suit to be a wife, and a house worker. But what makes people produce this idea? Education is the basic idea of this question. Education leads people to think about question, leads people to work, and the most important thing is education gives people knowledge. Before women had formal education, most of them didn’t even think about why the only job they can do is house worker. But a formal education gave them a chance to get out of this limited area. Women started to fight for their rights. Now, our society has corrected this “false refinement,” because women can be a government officer, the chairman of a company or a normal worker. They have opportunities for jobs, equal wage, and working hours as men. Now, our society totally treats women as an individual. Men and women are equal.

  6. Madiha Rao says:

    3) The development of nationalism were somewhat inspired by the ideals of the Enlightenment. Although the Enlightenment didn’t exactly promote nationalism, the ideas behind nationalism were somewhat shaped by the Enlightenment values.The Enlightenment promoted such values as freedom, equality and popular sovereignty which influenced the people fighting in the French Revolution to achieve these ideals to think of themselves as part of a distinct national community. Nationalism originated in France with the French Revolution possibly because the French movement to abolish the old regime and create a republic was supported by so many French and the first year of the revolution was considered the first year of the new calendar indicating that the French had strong sentiments about having a nationalistic identity. Nationalism spread to other places in Europe and it had both positive and negative effects.Nationalism encouraged people in some places to try to understand the culture of individual communities such as Johann Gottfried von Herder who studied literature to understand the spirit of the German community. In Italy, nationalism encouraged Giuseppe Mazzini to form a group called Young Italy and attain independence from Austria and Spanish to form an Italian national state. However, nationalism had a negative impact on the Jewish communities in Europe because as nationalism spread many nationalism supporters became suspicious of Jews and persecuted them. I think nationalism was good because it turned people’s focus from religion to social and political aspects of life but at the same time it made problems between different communities that didn’t exist before.

  7. Madiha Rao says:

    6. I think formal education has given a women the ability to think for herself and make knowledgeable decisions which is a very important ability because women do not have to submit to others and can cross their boundaries. At one point some women did not even realize what they were capable of and education gives them the power to go beyond their limitations. I think modern society has corrected “false refinement” by giving women the oppurtunity to use their mind and body for things other than taking care of children, doing housework and appealing to men. I don’t think there could be anything more that women could ask for than having the ability to use their mind and bodies to their full potential. I don’t think that publications such as magazines promote the ideals that Wollstonecraft opposed to make females be inferior and submissive as strongly today as publications did in the past. For example, magazines these days emphasize skinny models but at least women can make up their minds about whether they want to attempt to be like those models or not. If a women wanted to be like a skinny model she would have to think first if it’s reasonable goal. Women during Wollstonecraft’s times didn’t have the ability to think and so they did as they were told. Magazines can tell women how to dress or behave but a women can still use her mind and recognize what is in her best interest and pursue that. Women in Wollstonecraft’s time didn’t have to ability to speak their mind and they were trained to behave femininely and as as Wollstonecraft points out, establish themselves only by marriage. She blatantly stated that society renders women as insignificant objects of desire and some women aren’t even aware of that. But in the end, she concludes that some women will govern their husbands without degrading themselves because “intellect will always govern” and I think that if intellect could govern some women at a time when they had no rights it should definitely dominate most women’s governance in a society today where women have much more rights and independence.

  8. Gulnaz Aglyamova says:

    3) I suggest that ideas of national identity spread so fast in 19 century because of two major events: revolutions throughout the Europe and especially in France, which destroyed the monarchy and scientific discoveries, which weakened power and belief in religion (particularly Christianity). People have to believe in something, so they start to build the new faith in their own nations so they could distinguish themselves from the remain world. I think the ideas of nationalism were very different from Enlightenment values such as individual freedom, equality of all religions, people’s rights, etc. Therefore, nationalism’s core concept is the separating the group of people from all others, which implies that this specific group of people has the priority in relation to others, which indeed refutes the idea that all people should be treated equal. Also, people in specific group called nation obeyed their national leaders, so it became easier to control and manipulate population through covering politic goals with the ideas that everything is for the nation. Some of the politics, such as Giuseppe Mazzini, even insisted that nation is a big family and the nation’s territory is a family home. Thus, these ideas promoted discrimination towards many people and led the world to very tragic events such as Anti-Semitism and the major wars WWI and WWII.

  9. Tabia Chu says:

    Question #2
    The problem with the fight for the rights of slaves and women was the lack of unity. In order to make a difference, large populations of people have to react at the same time otherwise it would not yield a result that could benefit them. Olympe de Gouges attempted to raise awareness for women’s rights however her attempts were wasted because it seems although she reached a large audience, there was still something keeping them back from acting with her. Ultimately Gouges was executed, all previous accomplishments left waiting for the next person to pick them up. Unification is a factor that needs to be emphasized when attempting to start a movement for social change.

  10. Anita Persaud says:

    Ques. 6

    Wollstonecraft said that women’s mind are not in a healthy state. Women are rendered weak and wretched by a variety of causes (google.com). I think that society has corrected this false refinement in our modern day society by providing women with formal education. She argued that woman possessed all the rights that are granted to men. She also insisted on the right of women to education. It would make them better mothers and wives and would enable them to contribute to society by preparing them for professional occupations and participation in political life.
    In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, women played crucial roles in the revolutions. They supported the efforts of men by managing businesses and participated in revolutionary activities but still women had little prospect of holding official positions or formal roles in public affairs, or allowed the rights to vote. The Seneca falls conference passed resolutions to grant women rights equivalent to those enjoyed by men, the right to a good education, they can participate in public affairs and enjoy professional occupations. I also think that magazine publications can no longer influence women, they have a choice whether they want to pose for a magazine or not, that is because women are more educated and are allowed to make decisions. Now women across the globe can have the same rights as men and can enjoy the same privileges while being a good wife and mother.

    sources – text, Traditions, google.com

  11. daniel chitrik says:

    3) Although it is commonly thought that Nationalism is a modern idea, it has its routes in ancient Greek thought, and in Judaic and christian theology. Nationalism brought a sense of unity to a nation, a mutual bond to their country. It both glorified the state in people mind, and also created a duty for the people, of that particular nation, to their state or country. The modern idea of nationalism, the love for a nation, was idealized in the French revolution; and ever since, it is the bond that holds a nation together.
    Societies were more hostile towards each other when it challenged their nationalistic ideas. It created strife and many times war. Even within nations themselves, nationalism turned many people against each other. Hitler and Stalin and the Serbs are only some examples of how nationalism can be a very degenerative to a country. Although it is a powerful force that can be used for good things, nevertheless, history has shown us how horribly it can be abused.

  12. Samantha Bryant says:

    Mary Wollstonecraft is also known as the “mother of feminism,” she believed that women should have equal rights as men and the ability to obtain formal education. She argued about the lack of equality in women who were often deemed inferior to men and that the lack of a formal education for women, played a vital role in this inequality of the sexes. Today women have broken down the barrier of inequality with the help of formal education and have proven Mary Wollstonecraft point that we were capable of being more than just housewives and mothers. Women have excelled in today in all career fields and aspects of life and I can not think of a field that women have not excelled in from politics to the private sector and even education. Education leads to knowledge and knowledge is power through this women were now able to fight for and obtain the right to vote, the right to work and for equality. Magazines today still do promote some of the ideas that Wollstonecraft oppose but they also show case some of our prestigious women and pioneers such as Hillary Clinton, and a black woman such as Oprah Winfrey, educated women that we often look up to. But for everything else that magazines have to offer women are now capable enough to make wise and educated decisions about it, because they can not easily brainwashed as before because of their knowledge that they gained through formal education.

  13. Sheri Greenbaum says:

    Conservatism is an ideology that favors a gradual change over time; information, traditions, culture, beliefs, etc. are things that should be passed on from generation to generation. As these ideas are passed on, they could evolve and change to fit the standards of time and society, but at heart conservatism is the preserving of the information, beliefs, traditions, cultures, beliefs, etc of the past. Liberalists believe that change was key to making the world a better place. The difference between conservatism and liberalism lies within the realm of political and social theories: liberalists believed these agents of change were good, while conservationists believed that radical change and revolutionary ideas would cause chaos and disorder in the world. Liberalists would welcome a new understanding of the view on slavery or women’s rights, but conservatives would dislike trying to change the way society already was. While conservatism is good for the preservation of ideals and values, in reality, as society changed, the liberalist view more beneficial. In countries where things aren’t working out as they are, change is necessary.

  14. Dinghua Zeng says:

    I think the society has corrected this “false refinement”, but not completely. Yes, our society (US) provides women with formal education, which we have the opportunity to have the same education as men today. We become more independent. We not only stay home any more. However, women still is the first consideration as the housewife, babysitter. Many women go to colleges is for marry a good husband. Also, many women give up their job in order to compromise with their families even thought they have great position. In our modern society, women are not only affected by their formal education, but also affected by culture/ society influence. After World War II, women were expected to have babies and go back to their homes and served families. “ Separate spheres”(a stay at home mom, a wage earning dad) reassumed its position as the governing doctrine in American during the middle of 20th century. The proportion of women attending college dropped from 47 percent in 1920 to 35 percent in 1958. In Harper’s Bazaar, a women writer proposed that women should have more children to cure the emptiness of the housewives (People, Power & Politics). The policy does not strict a women’s right to pursue her formal education, but media’s power and culture influence more limited her thought silently.

  15. Natalia Roldan says:

    Liberalism came out of the Enlightenment period with the help of open minded thinkers such as John Locke. Locke questioned the absolute monarchies that ran Europe at the time. He didn’t agree with a nobile class running the government and questioned the divinity of those who claimed to be divine. Rather, he believed that every man was ruled by natural rights, which surpassed any governmental authority. This thought spread and common citizens began to question the way that their government was run. Soon enough, Locke’s reasoning was used in defense of the American Revolution and the French Revolution.

    Because Locke’s ideas were from a very different time, it’s hard to say how they would apply to the abolition of slavery and women’s rights. Locke doesn’t say much about the owning of an individual as property, but he does state that every individual has a right to property, especially when it is derived from that individual’s labor. In this, it is most probable that Locke would not agree with slavery, because the slaves would be the ones who would partake in labor, without being granted any “property” derived from that labor.


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