Immanuel Kant

Topics: Immanuel Kant, Rationalism, René Descartes Pages: 3 (1993 words) Published: October 31, 2014

HYPERLINK "http://www.philosophypages.com/ph/kant.htm" Immanuel Kant answers the question in the first sentence of the essay: “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity.” He argues that the immaturity is self-inflicted not from a lack of understanding, but from the lack of courage to use one’s reason, intellect, and wisdom without the guidance of another. He exclaims that the motto of enlightenment is “Sapere aude”! – Dare to be wise! The German word Unmündigkeit means not having attained age of majority or legal adulthood. "Unmündig" also means "dependent" or "unfree", and another translation is "tutelage" or "nonage" (the condition of "not [being] of age"). Kant, whose moral philosophy is centred around the concept of autonomy, here distinguishes between a person who is intellectually autonomous and one who keeps him/herself in an intellectually heteronomous, i.e. dependent and immature status. Kant understands the majority of people to be content to follow the guiding institutions of society, such as the Church and the Monarchy, and unable to throw off the yoke of their immaturity due to a lack of resolution to be autonomous. It is difficult for individuals to work their way out of this immature, cowardly life because we are so uncomfortable with the idea of thinking for ourselves. Kant says that even if we did throw off the spoon-fed dogma and formulas we have absorbed, we would still be stuck, because we have never “cultivated our minds.” The key to throwing off these chains of mental immaturity is reason. There is hope that the entire public could become a force of free thinking individuals if they are free to do so. Why? There will always be a few people, even among the institutional "guardians", who think for themselves. They will help the rest of us to “cultivate our minds.” Kant shows himself a man of his times when he observes that “a revolution may well put an end to autocratic despotism . . . or power-seeking oppression,...
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