KANT AND THE ENLIGHTENMENT (What is the Enlightenment?) (2014)Trabajo Inglés
Composition about what is the Enlightenment in Kant's opinion, with some of the most important ideas of his thinking. Compared with other philosophers such as Voltaire, Rousseau and Todorov.
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Marta Busquets Carrera
LU- Political Philosophy
International Relations I
In Kant’s text about what is the Enlightenment, he answers the question by saying that the Enlightenment is a new way of thinking that encourages a revolution, and he adds that for this revolution, as he describes as a change, we need to think.
He starts his text by exalting the importance of thinking. During the text, Kant says that the most important thing is to have the courage to think by ourselves. He thinks society is the slave of a leader, and that society is too lazy to make the effort of thinking by themselves. So, when he refers to courage, he means that we must stop being slaves and start thinking by ourselves.
Kant says that the main goal of people should be freedom. Not just an individual goal, but a collective goal as well. And he says that the way of arriving to freedom is by having courage to think by ourselves and stop being the slaves of an authority.
But to start thinking we need an important factor: Education. He believes that education is the only way society will be able to think by themselves. And by reaching a good level of education, society will be finally free and won’t need no more leaders, the main culpable of this inexistent freedom.
Kant attacks these leaders by saying that they don’t look for the best for society, they just think for their own interests, and he describes a good leader as an emphatic person, a person with values.
He says that leaders don’t want society to be educated because that’s the only way they can still be slaves. Leaders know that when people are educated they start to think and that means a revolution against the authority.
Kant expresses the need to have the courage to stop following these leaders and start being free.
So, we can say, the main goal of the Enlightenment is the suppression of power, goal that later anarchists will put in an extreme practice.
But Kant adds that freedom is not an absolute value, as it has to work with other values such as organization. Kant says that these limits are connected to our conscious and ethics, and that it has to be combined with order.
Kant explains, as well, the meaning of the private us of opinion, that one we really have, and the public use of opinion, that one we must follow because of this order. We all must have an opinion, but because of we live in a society, sometimes we need to follow the best for the organization and just do what we have to do, although we don’t think that way.
Kant’s opinion of the Enlightenment is really close to Todorov, Voltaire and Rousseau’s opinion as well.
In one hand, Todorov states that the Enlightenment thinking consists in giving priority to what individual think by themselves over what is imposed by others. In this definition he refers to the authority or leader Kant refers to his text. Todorov says that this external person is controlling society.
Todorov thinks that we need to be free from the external authorities although we need to be guided by external laws, norms and rules just to prevent the chaos. This is related to Kant’s thinking as well, as he says that freedom has limits, and that it has to live with order.
Todorov adds that before the Enlightenment the human beings lived under an authority that was religious in nature, making, with this words, religion culpable of repression.
Voltaire criticizes democracy, as Socrates did in his times as well, and opposes to all forms of slavery, criticizing the authorities.
Voltaire says that the world could be improved by education, that it’s a way of replacing ignorance and superstition for knowledge and reason.
So, as conclusion, I can say that education is one of the most fundamental things when talking about freedom. Education helps the society see the truth and see that they are capable of thinking by themselves. Education teaches people that it’s possible to think by themselves, and that laziness won’t guide us to any good place. It’s important that we have the courage and the will to start thinking by ourselves, although we know it’s not the most comfortable or easiest thing to do.
We cannot live forever in the peace of not doing anything, just let other people think for us. We need to take the reins of our lives and start admitting that we can be free.
But as I talk about the term of freedom, I need to add that there must be some rules or some laws that limit this freedom just to prevent the chaos. We need to think about what’s correct and what’s not, we must apply our education in our acts and we must act always responsible, using our ethics and our conscious.