Enlightenment Essay

When such consequences are not in play, however, Kant argues that everyone not only has the right, but the duty to act as a Scholar for the community of the unenlightened to argue the point rather than blindly obey the order.Kant illuminates the key difference here between private and public duties through various specific examples.The world is separated into three groups: the few who are enlightened, the guardians whom the unenlightened have given the power and authority of supervision over them and the unenlightened whom the guardians treat like animals by exploiting their fear and laziness.

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From this Kant leads to the concept of a monarch lacks the power to decree anything upon his people which they would not decree upon themselves, arguing that the power held by a leader is authority that can only be given by the people, not taken from them.

He then explains the powers and duties that should be expected from an enlightened monarch living in an enlightened age before asking whether we live in an enlightened age.

This this is the set-up: why do people choose to remain unenlightened by allowing others to make decisions for them which they could make through the use of reason that takes into account an understanding of what they have learned.

For Kant, the explanation is simple: the mass of men and all women are lazy and fearful.

Now this danger is not actually so great, for after falling a few times they would in the end certainly learn to walk; but an example of this kind makes men timid and usually frightens them out of all further attempts.

Thus, it is difficult for any individual man to work himself out of the immaturity that has all but become his nature.Kant then poses a rhetorical proposition questioning whether a society of clergymen could justifiably bind behavior to a contractual rule of order free from alteration in the face of future acquisition of knowledge.Kant answers that such a situation would be null and void as it is represents a conspiracy to deny the application of enlightened thought to future generations who would forever be ceaselessly bound to an outdated and archaic bond existing solely for the purpose of creating a perpetual guardianship.For instance, if a soldier were to disobey and order and argue against its status as an enlightened approach while on duty in a situation where refusing to obey the order has consequences on the lives of others, this would not be acting as a Scholar for the community.In such private affairs, one must obey rather than argue.Once attained, it reproduces itself in the freedom to act without fear or cowardice which keeps one unenlightened.Here is Immanuel Kant’s famous essay of 1784, “What is Enlightenment?This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of understanding, but in lack of resolve and courage to use it without guidance from another. [dare to know] “Have courage to use your own understanding! Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so great a proportion of men, long after nature has released them from alien guidance (natura-liter maiorennes), nonetheless gladly remain in lifelong immaturity, and why it is so easy for others to establish themselves as their guardians. If I have a book to serve as my understanding, a pastor to serve as my conscience, a physician to determine my diet for me, and so on, I need not exert myself at all.I need not think, if only I can pay: others will readily undertake the irksome work for me.”ENLIGHTENMENT is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity.Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another.


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