Your chronology is a little off, in that the American Revolution antedates the French Revolution by about 13 years. But more importantly, the concept of rights from which Hobbes and Locke, both in the 17th century, derived their views of the nature and origin of rights, was an ancient notion, common to the city-states of ancient Greece, the Roman Republic, and the Roman Empire, although in each case the rights were tied to citizenship. Socrates was radical in that he seems to believe there are rights innate to humanity, and not merely to citizens of Athens, or Sparta, or some other particular entity. The Alexandrian successors in the 3rd century BC speak of preserving the "freedoms of the Greeks" from being trampled upon. These freedoms are of necessity not tied to Christian dogma; however, they are generally tied to a belief in free will and freedom of action for citizens which is analogous in many ways to an Orthodox understanding of free will; that is, the ability to act rightly or wrongly, free of determinism, as a moral actor.
I can assure you from a study of ancient and classical transcripts and speeches from courts, that our modern understanding of rights did not spring whole cloth out of the Enlightenment. Johannes Scotus Eriugena's writings continued a stream of philosophy from Augustine, and although we have a strong anti-Scholastic bent in Orthodoxy, the general ideas are well picked-over and known long before the 17th century.
We can consider the various judicial punishments of the Eastern Roman Empire as an embodiment of the classical understanding of rights, in that ostracism was considered an ultimate punishment, and capital punishment was rare, a fate meted out only to traitors, and often even traitors would not be killed, but maimed or otherwise rendered harmless. Imprisonment was a foreign concept, although confinement to monasteries was used as punishment from time to time.
Now, I can certainly agree that the modern notion of rights is far divorce from the classical understanding, but I think that the emphasis on free will as the originating principle for rights as classically understood is not a concept that would have been foreign to St. Basil the Great, St. Clement of Alexandria, or St. John of Damascus.
Please excuse a certain brusqueness; I am a lawyer by profession, and am not particularly civilized as a result. I tend to argue.
Edited by Alexander Ignatiev, 10 April 2012 - 07:36 PM.