An Answer To the Question: What Is Enlightenment? by Immanuel Kant

By Immanuel Kant

Immanuel Kant was once the most influential philosophers within the complete of Europe, who replaced Western inspiration together with his examinations of cause and the character of fact. In those writings he investigates human growth, civilization, morality and why, to be actually enlightened, we needs to all have the liberty and braveness to take advantage of our personal mind. all through heritage, a few books have replaced the realm. they've got remodeled the way in which we see ourselves - and every different. they've got encouraged debate, dissent, warfare and revolution. they've got enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. they've got enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the nice thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose principles shook civilization and helped make us who we're.

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But by the public use of one’s own reason I mean that use which anyone may make of it as a man of learning addressing the entire reading public. What I term the private use of reason is that which a person may make of it in a particular civil post or office with which he is entrusted. Now in some affairs which affect the interests of the commonwealth, we require a certain mechanism whereby some members of the commonwealth must behave purely passively, so that they may, by an artificial common agreement, be employed by the government for public ends (or at least deterred from vitiating them).

All this means restrictions on freedom everywhere. But which sort of restriction prevents enlightenment, and which, instead of hindering it, can actually promote it? I reply: The public use of man’s reason must always be free, and it alone can bring about enlightenment among men; the private use of reason may quite often be very narrowly restricted, however, without undue hindrance to the progress of enlightenment. But by the public use of one’s own reason I mean that use which anyone may make of it as a man of learning addressing the entire reading public.

Thus a public can only achieve enlightenment slowly. A revolution may well put an end to autocratic despotism and to rapacious or power-seeking oppression, but it will never produce a true reform in ways of thinking. Instead, new prejudices, like the ones they replaced, will serve as a leash to control the great unthinking mass. For enlightenment of this kind, all that is needed is freedom. And the freedom in question is the most innocuous form of all – freedom to make public use of one’s reason in all matters.

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