glyph 148: emancipaton, freedom, thought . enlightenment ... history . philosophy, epistemology ... kant . popper ... friesian school


Enlightenment - described by Immanuel Kant, 1785

the emancipation of man from a state of self-imposed tutelage

From Karl Popper's Conjectures and Refutations, chapter 7, "Kant's Critique and Cosmology":

But let us see how Kant himself describes the idea of the Enlightnment [7]:

Enlightenment is the emancipation of man from a state of self-imposed tutelage .... of incapacity to use his own intelligence without external guidance. Such a state of tutelage I call 'self-imposed' if it is due, not to lack of intelligence, but to lack of courage or determination to use one's own intelligence without the help of a leader. Sapere audé! Dare to use your own intelligence! This is the battle-cry of the Enlightenment.

Kant is saying something very personal here. It is part of his own history. Brought up in near poverty, in the narrow outlook of Pietism - a severe German version of Puritanism - his own life was a story of emancipation through knowledge. In later years he used to look back with horror to what he called 'the slavery of childhood', his period of tutelage. One might well say that the dominant theme of his whole life was the struggle for personal freedom.

[7] "What is the Enlightenment?" (1785); Immanuel Kant's Werke, ed., Ernst Cassirer, et al., vol iv, p. 169.

"What is Enlightenment?" by Immanuel Kant, 1784
Thanks to Alia Johnson for this link (15Feb09).

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entered before July 9, 2006; edited/updated February 10, 2018

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