(Miscellaneous) 18th Century Writing Assignment (L55)

1.) What does Adam Smith mean by the “invisible hand”?

When Adam Smith spoke of the “invisible hand” he was referring to two questions; the moral acceptability of self interest, and the possibility of society without self interest. Smith said that when one acts in their own self interest, that they are led by an invisible hand to help others in the process as well. Making decisions in a self interest mentality goes hand in hand with the greater good, because in the process of helping ones self, they’re most likely helping someone else. For example, if one were to go to the store for a new computer, they’re benefiting everybody who works for or runs the company as well, making them money and keeping them in business.

2.) Explain the views of the French materialists.

French materialists firmly believed that life has no spiritual dimensions, and that the human body is simply a well functioning machine. People like La Mettrie believed more specifically that, to be scientific, the human organism must only be viewed as a machine, held under no moral accountability for their actions because a machine acts as it does, not as it wills. Baron d’Holbach branched off into more depth, stating that, lacking free will, humans are only capable of making decisions based off of chemical reactions, environmental reactions, and basic instinct.

3.) Discuss the causes and consequences of the War of the Austrian Succession.

The main cause of the War of Austrian Succession was the invasion of Austria in 1740, by Frederick William I to begin the process gaining Silesia. The consequences of this war were the Diplomatic Revolution, and ultimately, the Seven Years’ War.


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