What is Enlightenment? Emmanuel Kant Essay

What is Enlightenment? Emmanuel Kant Essay

Length: 1099 words (3.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

In his essay writing “What is Enlightenment?” Immanuel Kant defines enlightenment as “man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity” (Kant, 1). In order for us to completely understand this definition, we must first understand what Kant meant by “Immaturity”. In the writing Kant defines immaturity as “the inability to use one’s understanding without the guidance from another”(Kant, 1). Furthermore, Kant believes that this immaturity is self-imposed, and that it is the individual’s fault for lacking the courage and resolve to think for themselves, but instead pay others to think and understand for them. I substantially agree with this idea, however, his remarks on immaturity in relation to the government, the way people should live, and religion is quite impetuous and irrational. Likewise, I do agree that people should be able to live freely, and think for themselves, however I do not agree that they have to live without rules, regulations or a government. In his essay Kant says “. 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.”(Kant, 1). Kant believes that these guardians restrain our minds and have us lack the capabilities to think for ourselves. However, I believe that these same guardians are those entities that help nurture our mind and enable us to think for ourselves. How could books, the source of wisdom, knowledge, and new things be bad for us? There is nothing wrong with gaining new knowledge.

In the context of enlightenment Kant believes that freedom is the best way to achieve enlightenment. Freedom accord...


... middle of paper ...


... there has always been a leader to guide the people throughout their hardships. This leader can be anything from a tribal leader to the president of a country. Society in its modernity crumbles without anyone to lead it. Having a wise and just leader in my opinion is better than having none.

Finally, Kant saw the world as he wanted to see it, not the reality of it. In reality human beings are social animals that can be deceived, and can become irrational, this distinction is what makes us human, and it is that which makes us make mistakes. Kant states good arguments in his essay however his belief that people are enslaved and shackled by the “guardians” when he writes “shackles of a permanent immaturity” (Kant, 1) is sometimes absurd when the same guardians are the people that encourage our minds of thinking.



Works Cited

Kant, Immanuel. “What is Enlightenment?”

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

What is Enlightenment? Emmanuel Kant Essay

- In his essay writing “What is Enlightenment?” Immanuel Kant defines enlightenment as “man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity” (Kant, 1). In order for us to completely understand this definition, we must first understand what Kant meant by “Immaturity”. In the writing Kant defines immaturity as “the inability to use one’s understanding without the guidance from another”(Kant, 1). Furthermore, Kant believes that this immaturity is self-imposed, and that it is the individual’s fault for lacking the courage and resolve to think for themselves, but instead pay others to think and understand for them....   [tags: freedom, reason, philosophy]

Better Essays
1099 words (3.1 pages)

19th and 20th Philosophy: The views of Emmanuel Kant Essay

- Kant shows in the Critique of Pure reason that there are multiple categories and he uses logic to come to these conclusions. “The same function that gives unity to the different representations in a judgment also gives unity to the mere synthesis of different representations in an intuition, which, expressed generally, is called the pure concept of understanding. The same understanding, therefore, and indeed by means of the very same actions through which it brings the logical form of a judgment into concepts by means of the analytical unity, also brings a transcendental content into its representations by means of the synthetic unity of the manifold in intuition in general, on account of wh...   [tags: emmanuel kant, understanding, logical judgement]

Better Essays
2332 words (6.7 pages)

The Enlightenment Set the Stage for New Imperialism Essay

- New imperialism was the mid nineteenth and twentieth centuries cultural equivalent to a modern day mafia, its roots entangled in the economic, cultural, and humanistic aspects of life. The sole objective of the nations entailed the exploitation of their controlled state. Gestating from the change in control of Asian and African nations to the Europeans by means of political deviance, malicious sieges, and strategic military attacks. The juxtaposition to the modern equivalent endures as the aforesaid is sheltered by the fairytale that these nations were in need of aid and by doing so the Europeans were the good guys....   [tags: The Enlightenment]

Better Essays
1371 words (3.9 pages)

Moral Ethics: Emmanuel Kant Essay

- Immanuel Kant believes that we act wrongly when we treat people merely as a means and not as an end in itself. According to Kant, “every rational being exists as an end in itself, not merely as a means to be used by this or that will at its discretion.” Every person is a rational being who can make his/her own choices. This makes everyone intrinsically valuable because everyone has his/her own free will. As a result, people should not be used merely as tools so that others can achieve their own objectives....   [tags: philosophical analysis]

Better Essays
972 words (2.8 pages)

Philosophy: Emmanuel Kant Essay

- Kantian Duty Immanuel Kant has a several "duty based" ethics. Another word for his belief in "duty based" is Deontological ethics. Other two theories are teleological ethics, and consequential ethics. Kant believes teleology is wrong, which put's Kant into the category of a Deontological ethicist. This is apprehensive to specifically what people do, and totally disregard the consequence of the person's actions. Some specific "duty based ethic's are , Do the right thing, do it because it's the right thing to do, don't do the wrong thing, especially avoid the wrong things because "they are wrong"....   [tags: deontological ethics, capital punishment]

Better Essays
945 words (2.7 pages)

Kant's Views on Enlightenment Essay

- Kant's Views on Enlightenment The best summary of Kant's view of Enlightenment lies in the first paragraph of his essay "An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?": Sapere Aude. Translated 'dare to know,' the phrase "is the motto of enlightenment." For Kant, enlightenment means rising from the self-imposed stupor which substitutes obedience for reason and which atrophies man's ability to think for himself and develop his natural capacities. Laziness and cowardice prevent man from enlightening himself, an activity which becomes harder over time since man becomes comfortable and content in his stupor....   [tags: Philosophy]

Better Essays
497 words (1.4 pages)

What is Enlightenment? by Immanuel Kant and The Elimination of Irrational Thought

- What is Enlightenment. by Immanuel Kant and The Elimination of Irrational Thought In his essay ‘What is Enlightenment?’ Immanuel Kant discusses the nature of Enlightenment and how it can be brought to the general public. According to Kant, “Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage.” By this, Kant means that Enlightenment is when one man is able to make use of his understanding without guidance from another man. Kant sees an Age of Enlightenment as a time when the human society can be liberated from their nature of discharge, which is a need for someone to be their director....   [tags: Papers]

Free Essays
388 words (1.1 pages)

The Enlightenment Essay

- The history of Western civilization cannot be neatly divided into precise linear sections. Instead, it must be viewed as a series of developing threads that combine, interact, and, at various intervals, take pervasive shifts. The Enlightenment of the eighteenth century was one of these paradigm historical shifts, challenging the traditional notions of authority by investing reason with the power to change the human condition for the better. This ecumenical emphasis on reason and independent thought led to an explosion of change and development across science, philosophy, religion, and politics....   [tags: Cultural History]

Better Essays
1244 words (3.6 pages)

The Enlightenment Essay

- Advancement from Enlightenment As the 1900's rolled around, many changes were to come. New leaders, government styles, and new ideas were just the start. The main focus of the Enlightenment era was based on reason, rationalism, and the idea of "Inevitable Progress." Enlightenment was pushed forward by great people such as Kant, Bulgaria, Thomas Jefferson, Isaac Newton, Francois-Marie Ardouet de Voltaire, Thomas Hobbes, to name a few. As the 20th century rapidly approached, the enlightenment was strongly criticized and new ideas were on the rise....   [tags: World History]

Free Essays
1009 words (2.9 pages)

Enlightenment Essay

- Enlightenment Do we at present live in enlightened age. What is enlightenment. Immanuel Kant attempts to clarify the meaning of enlightenment while composing the essay, "What is Enlightenment?". The goal of Kant's essay was to discuss what the nature of enlightenment was. It also taught one how enlightenment can be brought about in the general public. Kant explains that, "enlightenment is man's release from his self-incurred immaturity". Immaturity is man's incompetence to have direction for oneself....   [tags: Papers]

Better Essays
547 words (1.6 pages)