Assignment 2 Social and Political Theory
Assignment 2 – Essay 1
Student Number: 100043476
Title: What did Kant think Enlightenment was? Was he right to think this?
Immanuel Kant was a German Philosopher who was a key figure central to modern philosophy, he argued that mankind’s perceptions, classifications and concepts shape our outlook of the world, and that rationale is the source of morality. In Germany in the late 1700’s there was a newspaper called the ‘Berlinische Monatsschrift’, this newspaper put out an invitation to intellectuals around this time to answer the question,: what is enlightenment? Immanuel Kant responded by writing an essay stating what he thought enlightenment was. This piece of work was called ‘Was ist Aufklarung’. Immanuel Kant thought that enlightenment was “man’s release from his self incurred tutelage” (Kant 1784, p.1-4) what Kant means by this is that enlightenment allows people to break free from the cowardice and laziness that they have imposed on themselves, which has resulted in them to be apathetic about using their own rational minds but follow the instruction (tutelage) of others. In this essay I will explain in detail exactly what Immanuel Kant thought Enlightenment was and provide evidence and theoretical arguments that validate that he was wrong to think this. Another key element of Immanuel Kant’s study on enlightenment is that Enlightenment, is the final stage in the continuing progress of mankind which leads to the liberation of the human mind, which he thinks is stuck in a state of false consciousness and it can’t break free from because of man/woman being ignorant in wanting to follow what others tell them to do rather than using their own free reason. “For Kant, enlightenment was man-kind’s final coming of age, the emancipation of the human consciousness from an immature state of ignorance and error” (Porter, 2001, p. 1). Immanuel Kant, believes that we the people of the world are all capable of being rational, autonomous, free thinking individuals; he believes that we are all capable of reflecting on the world that we live in and may come to the same conclusions not because we fall to prejudices and follow the majority opinion but because we are all human and it is likely that we will draw the same conclusions