Immanuel Kant and Enlightenment
“Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage.”(Kant) What does this mean? Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher who lived from 1724 – 1804. He lived during that time in history when societies were dealing with revolution. The American Revolution was happening, but the French Revolution was the major historical event to inspire Kant’s philosophy.
Enlightenment is self-responsibility. Man needs to have the courage to think for himself. A person should be willing to put in the effort to question and research what they need to know. We as human beings should strive to acquire the knowledge, make decisions, and be able to form our own opinions. Reaching enlightenment would allow a person do so without depending on the thoughts and opinions of others.
Immanuel Kant felt that much of society was lazy. People were willing to let others make the important decisions that would dictate how they were to live their life, both physically and morally. We see this with the quote, “If I have a book that thinks for me, a pastor who acts as my conscience, a physician who prescribes my diet, and so on – then I have no need to exert myself.” (Kant) For the majority of people this was comfortable; letting others tell them what they should think, how they should act, or what they should do was the easy way to go about life. Kant strongly felt that human beings must be willing to think for themselves.
“Dare to Know” became the motto for enlightenment. Kant believed that human beings had finally reached a state of intellectual maturity. They now had the ability to understand the world around them as well as themselves through direct inquiry. Unfortunately, a person who did so was part of the minority. Many people chose to believe what they were told and never sought answers on their own. Immanuel Kant declared the statement, “Dare to know!” stating that human beings need to “have the courage to use your own understanding.”...