Kant – What Is Enlightenment?

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In one sentence, enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-incurred immaturity.
What is immaturity? "Immaturity is the inability to use one's own understanding without the guidance of another." If someone doesn't have the courage to use his or her understanding, in that case, the immaturity is self-incured.
The motto of enlightenment is therefore: Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own understanding!

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14 Comments

  1. Very interesting, havent given this much thought before.
    Btw, what is that jazz in the background?

  2. In my experience through enlightenment, it was more than immaturity.  It was really scary because the more I thought, the more it began to challenge everything that was considered true.

    • you need to follow Descartes’s 4 laws in that case by relying on your reason above all.
      1- Don’t accept anything as true unless it’s evident (to avoid or prevent hasty conclusions);
      2- Dissect or divide any given problem into the largest amount of parts possible, for a simpler analysis;
      3- Start with simpler objects to slowly progress towards increasingly difficult objects of study;
      4- Be circumspect, and carefully review the progress made to be sure that nothing’s been left out.
      Of course doing all that but first you need to break free from others’ opinions and your own appetites to consider things exactly how they are, regardless of how you see them. Looking inward and seeing what you can dig out by means of your reason alone.

  3. In his essay, ‘An Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment’ (1784), Immanuel Kant
    defines Enlightenment as ‘man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity’. However, he
    goes on to state that ‘it is difficult for any individual man to work himself out of… immaturity’.
    Why is this? What obstacles to enlightenment — what he calls ‘shackles’ — does Kant name?
    Discuss the key points of Kant’s argument and describe in particular the type of freedom Kant
    sees as a requirement for enlightenment to occur.

  4. I’m still a bit fuzzy on the ‘private’ vs ‘public’ use of reason. What would constitute ‘private’ use, and why does it seem that Kant is opposed to this, or at least views it as less important?

    • I think it has to do with how reason and knowledge were considered the properties of the upper class (thus private). Knowledge and reason weren’t necessarily public. Kant probably wanted all men, including the lower classes to think freely and use reason publicly, share their thoughts, etc. (Just my take on it)

  5. I don’t need Kant’s definition of the Enlightenment: I can hitch up my big boy pants and think for myself.

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