Essay on Enlightenment Is Man 's Emergence From His Self Imposed Immaturity

Essay on Enlightenment Is Man 's Emergence From His Self Imposed Immaturity

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As Kant would put it, “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity” (Kant 1784, p. 1). However, what does this truly mean? Kant says that this said immaturity is not due to man’s lack of understanding, but rather man’s lack of courage and confidence to use his understanding willingly and without the direction of others. In other words, Enlightenment to Kant is to resist authority and traditions, allowing us to think for ourselves. “’Have courage to use your own understanding!’—that is the motto of enlightenment” (Kant 1784, p. 1). Furthermore, enlightenment cannot be achieved overnight. It would be foolish to say otherwise. As a person grows slowly yet surely out of this self-imposed condition of immaturity is when one has achieved enlightenment. When one goes above and beyond and thinks and acts on their own thoughts, understanding, and reason is when one can say they have reached successfully accomplished enlightenment. With all this said, Kant’s definition of enlightenment is one that I believe to be true and able to be done.
In his definition of enlightenment, he distinguishes between public and private uses of reason. “The public use of one 's reason must always be free, and it alone can bring about enlightenment among mankind; the private use of reason may, however, often be very narrowly restricted, without otherwise hindering the progress of enlightenment” (Kant 1784, p. 2). In public reason, he centers in on the model of the scholar. The ideal scholar has made an effort to know and understand without the guidance of someone else. Kant believes that this promotes a more broad enlightenment that may even be tolerated by those in power. On the other hand, Kant views private reason as that which relate...


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...e departments, laws, and so many rules as there are today, humans still continue to wrong others in unimaginable ways. Even without the oversight of a government, a certain portion of the world population would continue to not live up to what Kant would have wanted. This group of humans would NOT think for themselves but rather let others do the thinking for them. With that said, would we be able to live in a safe, peaceful, free-thinking community with little to no crime and wrong-doing WITHOUT government supervision? In my opinion, the answer is no. There are still far too many humans that are not in alignment in terms of thinking with others. We are still “too young” – we live in a world with many awful people…and the idea that degenerates mixed with level-minded people would be able to self-govern themselves in a peaceful community just isn’t possible in my mind.

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