SAT II World History : Historic Figures of the Enlightenment Era

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II World History

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Example Questions

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Example Question #26 : The Enlightenment Era

The law of gravity was first proposed by which of the following individuals?

Possible Answers:

Thomas Edison

Isaac Newton

John Locke

Alexander Graham Bell

Immanuel Kant

Correct answer:

Isaac Newton

Explanation:

Isaac Newton did a great deal to advance human understanding, including inventing a whole system of mathematics that we call calculus. His most famous achievement, however, is his discovery of the law of gravity, which changed the way scientists understood the universe. A famous quotation about Newton comes from the brilliant English Renaissance man Alexander Pope: "Nature, and nature's laws, lay bathed in night. God said 'Let there be Newton!' And all was light."

Example Question #1 : Historic Figures Of The Enlightenment Era

Which of the following Enlightenment philosophers can most reasonably be seen as the foil of John Locke?

Possible Answers:

David Ricardo

Adam Smith

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Thomas Hobbes

Voltaire

Correct answer:

Thomas Hobbes

Explanation:

Whilst John Locke believed in liberalism and constitutionalism and limiting the power of absolute monarchs, Hobbes argued that absolutism was the only way to protect society from slipping into an anarchistic state of nature in which crime and chaos would reign. 

Example Question #2 : Historic Figures Of The Enlightenment Era

Leviathan was written by which of the following authors?

Possible Answers:

Charles de Montesquieu

John Locke

Sir Francis Bacon

Thomas Hobbes

Adam Smith

Correct answer:

Thomas Hobbes

Explanation:

Leviathan is a seminal work of the Enlightenment period that stood in contrast to the writings of John Locke, Rousseau, and others. In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes presents his arguments in favor of absolutism as a means of preventing society from descending into catastrophic anarchy. Hobbes argued in support of the absolute power of government to control mankind's base nature.

Example Question #29 : The Enlightenment Era

The philosopher Voltaire was primarily concerned with protecting which of the following?

Possible Answers:

The Catholic Church

Freedom of speech

Freedom from taxation

Absolutism

Laissez-faire capitalism

Correct answer:

Freedom of speech

Explanation:

Voltaire was a French philosopher during the Enlightenment era who advocated fiercely for the protection of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech, according to Voltaire, is the best and perhaps only way to guard against the tyranny of government.

Example Question #3 : Historic Figures Of The Enlightenment Era

The phrase "I think, therefore I am" is credited to which Enlightenment-era thinker?

Possible Answers:

Isaac Newton

Alexander Pope

Samuel Johnson 

Rene Descartes

Galileo Galilei

Correct answer:

Rene Descartes

Explanation:

Descartes is an Englightenment-era philosopher, scientist, and mathematician, and his work in all three fields continues to be hugely influential today. He is famous for his reductive inquiry into the nature of existence that led him to one simple truth: "I think, therefore I am." Essentially, by doubting his existence, he was proving his existence, for for there to be doubt there must be something to do the doubting.

Example Question #1 : Historic Figures Of The Enlightenment Era

How did the writings of Charles de Montesquieu in The Spirit of Laws impact the formation of the government of the United States?

Possible Answers:

He believed in federalism and the division of powers between a national and regional governments.

He advocated for the separation of powers within government and inspired the three branches of the United States' government.

He believed in inalienable rights for all citizens and inspired the Bill of Rights.

He argued in favor of strong and centralized government and his work encouraged the rejection of the Articles of Confederation.

None of these answers is correct; the Founding Fathers rejected the arguments found in The Spirit of Laws.

Correct answer:

He advocated for the separation of powers within government and inspired the three branches of the United States' government.

Explanation:

Montesquieu is a famous Enlightenment philosopher who wrote in his seminal work The Spirit of Laws that, to protect against tyranny, a democratic government should be divided into separate branches: an executive branch to enforce the laws, a legislative branch to pass the laws, and a judicial branch to challenge the laws.

Example Question #2 : Historic Figures Of The Enlightenment Era

Which of these European leaders was considered an enlightened despot?

Possible Answers:

William Pitt the Younger 

Giuseppe Garibaldi  

William Pitt the Elder

Napoleon Bonaparte 

Catherine the Great 

Correct answer:

Catherine the Great 

Explanation:

Enlightened despotism (also called enlightened absolutism) was a form of absolute monarchy that existed in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The rulers, or enlightened despots, were heavily influenced by the ideas and theories spread by the Enlightenment thinkers of the time, particularly ideas concerning rationalism, freedom, and sponsorship of the arts and sciences. Of the European leaders listed in the answer choices, only Catherine the Great was considered an enlightened despot.

Example Question #6 : Historic Figures Of The Enlightenment Era

The Russian inventor Dmitri Mendeleev is most famous for __________.

Possible Answers:

his work on the periodic table

splitting the atom

inventing the system of calculus

turning lead into gold

his theory of relativity

Correct answer:

his work on the periodic table

Explanation:

Mendeleev is most famous for his work in "perfecting" the periodic table of elements. His work allowed people to understand similarities and differences between chemical elements with greater clarity. The theory of relativity was an idea of Albert Einstein's, and Newton invented the system of calculus. Alchemy, the practice of trying to turn materials into precious metals, was very popular during the Scientific Revolution.

Example Question #7 : Historic Figures Of The Enlightenment Era

This Northern Renaissance artist is renowned for his woodcuts and theoretical writing, and is sometimes referred to as the "Da Vinci of the Northern Renaissance."

Possible Answers:

Gerrit David

Jan Provost

Jan van Eyck

Erasmus

Albrecht Durer

Correct answer:

Albrecht Durer

Explanation:

Although slightly less revered in popular history, the Northern Renaissance was no less significant or accomplished than the Italian Renaissance. Albrecht Durer is probably the most famous of the Northern Renaissance artists. He is renowned for his woodcuts and his watercolors, as well as his theoretical writings on mathematics and perspective. 

Example Question #8 : Historic Figures Of The Enlightenment Era

Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz are the two men credited with __________.

Possible Answers:

Discovering the existence and significance of gravity 

Conclusively proving the heliocentric model of the solar system 

First turning lead into gold using alchemy 

Discovering the theory of relativity 

Inventing the mathematical system of calculus

Correct answer:

Inventing the mathematical system of calculus

Explanation:

Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz are two prominent Enlightenment Era scientists and mathematicians. Seemingly they both independently devised a system of calculus that allowed them to make calculations on things previously impossible. It is generally accepted that Newton invented calculus first, but as he did not publish this information for decades scholars have to rely on clues in his publications and on Newton's word (notoriously unreliable). The two men battled for acclaim for the invention during their lifetimes, but it is Newton who is most commonly remembered as the inventor of calculus (at least in the English speaking world), despite the fact that Leibniz was the first to publish on the matter. Calculus was vital to some of the scientific breakthroughs of Newton's lifetime and has been continued to be ever since. 

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