Immanuel Kant: An Age Of Enlightenment

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The German philosopher Immanuel Kant is considered to be a central figure of contemporary philosophy. Kant argued that fundamental concepts, structure human experience and that reason is the foundation of morality. In Kant’s 1784 essay “What is Enlightenment” he briefly outlined his opinions on what Enlightenment is, the difficulties to enlightenment and how individuals attain enlightenment.
Kant defined enlightenment as “Man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage” (Kant 1) and the “Courage to use his own reason.”(Kant 1) Immanuel Kant believed that “laziness and cowardice” were the leading reasons why many men remained un-enlightened. Kant stated that people refused to free themselves from the device of “self-imposed tutelage” because
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Kant argued that obstacles to individual enlightenment went beyond self-imposed obstacles. Freedom is the essential component for enlightenment. The social order, however, imposed limitations on freedom through laws, conventions and threats. Knowledge was also a requirement, but access to it was often restricted and guarded in late eighteenth century Europe, but attempts were being made to bring knowledge to the masses. An age of enlightenment according to Kant was a time when obstacles were being removed or eroded, Kant believed that Europe during the eighteenth century was in an age of enlightenment. As a society continues to allow more freedom, it becomes more of an enlightened age, Kant describes that when obstacles have been removed the individuals and society were enlightened free to pursue, self-determination and…show more content…
Kant defined this as private reason and considered it a necessity. Kant used an illustration of how catastrophic it would be in an office to question the appropriateness of an order rather than obeying it. The private use of reason was counterbalanced by an individual’s public use of reason. In this system of reason the individual takes upon the responsibility of an intellectual who “has complete freedom, indeed even the calling, to impart to the public all of his carefully considered and well-intentioned thoughts”. (Kant 3). To explain the difference between private reason and public reason Kant describes the acts of Private reason would compel an individual to pay a tax, and the acts of public reason would compel the individual to speak out against the necessity of the
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