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An Answer to the Question: What Is Enlightenment? (Great Ideas)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,664 ratings  ·  122 reviews
Immanuel Kant was one of the most influential philosophers in the whole of Europe, who changed Western thought with his examinations of reason and the nature of reality. In these writings he investigates human progress, civilization, morality and why, to be truly enlightened, we must all have the freedom and courage to use our own intellect.

Throughout history, some books
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Paperback, 144 pages
Published August 27th 2009 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1784)
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Scot
Jan 25, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: philosophy
I read Kant in college and for some reason he never clicked for me, everyone assumed I would like him but every time I tried to read him something seemed off. This essay is a perfect illustration of that overriding feeling. I was immediately drawn in as Kant described enlightenment as emergence from self-imposed nonage (the inability to use one's own understanding without another's guidance). Sounds great, right up my alley, yes we can free our minds and think for ourselves, you go Kant, go. Yet ...more
Skyler Myers
Sep 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in Kant and the enlightenment
"Enlightenment is man's release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man's inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred is this tutelage when when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude! 'Have courage to use your own reason!'- that is the motto of enlightenment."

PROs

* Very well argued

* Clear and hard to disagree with

CONs

* Short so not all thoughts are full
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Meike
I would feel a little silly rating Kant, so let me just say that this is one of the texts I first read in high school and that I now re-read - unsurprisingly, it's still relevant. In fact, it's more relevant than one could possibly wish for, as I am sure we all know some people we would love to hit over the head with a copy of this while yelling "sapere aude".
Petergiaquinta
Jul 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
At least you don't have to wait long for the answer. Kant gives it to us in the first sentence of this short pamphlet written in 1784: "Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-incurred immaturity." And what's immaturity, Mr. Kant? "Immaturity is the inability to use one's own understanding without the guidance of another. This immaturity is self-incurred if its cause is not lack of understanding, but lack of resolution and courage to use it without the guidance of another. The motto of en ...more
David Sarkies
Jan 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Christians and Philosophers
Recommended to David by: Coursea
Shelves: philosophy
The Freedom to think for oneself

17 January 2013
Okay, this pamphlet (it is way too short to be called a book, but still there is an entry on Goodreads, so while I will not count it as a part of the 2013 reading challenge, I will still write a commentary on it) is probably where the term 'Freethinker' came from. My first encounter with a so called 'freethinker' was in the Adelaide Railway Station when I was handing out invitations to the church carol service and I ended up speaking to a man who t
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Ali Reda
Enlightenment is the human being’s emergence from his self-incurred minority. Minority is inability to make use of one’s own understanding without direction from another. This minority is self-incurred when its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude! [dare to be wise] Have courage to make use of your own understanding! is thus the motto of enlightenment.

Thus a public can achieve enlightenment only slowly
...more
Viji (Bookish endeavors)
Mar 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
'Dare to use your own brain'-it seems a good proposition. What else it is for.?! Kant's criticism of the society was good but the actions he asked to take seemed a bit passive and that's not my cup of tea. It was a good read,a perfect view into one of the most prominent thinkers who ever lived.
Cla
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A lot to think about from a short piece. Just as Kant said and also holding the same idea, we've yet to live in an enlightened age.
Lnaz Izd
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
"That the guardians of the people (in spiritual things) should themselves be
incompetent is an absurdity which amounts to the eternalization of absurdities."
Cam Cam
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An answer to the question: How do you call yourself "mature"?

Wish i had read it earlier in my younger days.
Felix
Apr 13, 2015 rated it liked it
I am very interested in Immanuel Kant's philosophy, and I've watched several lectures on the subject. Something in his morality strikes a chord with me, and I like to think that insofar as is regularly possible, I try to live by Kant's values. This, however, is the first volume by Kant himself that I have actually read.

Kant undoubtedly has a formidable reputation as a writer that inspires confusion and produces interminable sentences. In this collection of essays on political theory, he lived up
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Harry Doble
Jan 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy, german, essays
A foundational text of the Enlightenment. Kant sees mankind's immaturity as a refusal to use our own understanding and to allow others do our thinking for us. He believes in slow social reform so that minds up to and including the highest leaders have time to adjust to change. The mechanism of this is the freedom to to make public use of one's reason in all matters. We should be encouraged to say and do what we like in the public sphere. Kant makes a distinction between this and the use of reaso ...more
Thomas Semchuk
Unrated because I want to reread it.

Pros to this text:
1. It's short
2. It's easier to understand then Kant's other work
Tarik Lahyany
Aug 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“There is more chance of an entire public enlightening itself. This is indeed almost inevitable, if only the public concerned is left in freedom. For there will always be a few who think for themselves, even among those appointed as guardians of the common mass. Such guardians, once they have themselves thrown off the yoke of immaturity, will disseminate the spirit of rational respect for personal value and for the duty of all men to think for themselves.”

Kant, Immanuel.
Ioana Ioana
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: luminary, essays, german
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nare
Feb 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In "What is Enlightenment?," Kant follows the ideas that progress in thinking is not good for individuals, but will have an effect on society. Enlightenment and necessary knowledge that constitutes it creates the foundation for change in society. When people are more educated, they realize that they no longer want to be subjects to the kings.

Kant follows that enlightenment works to make the world more of a home for human beings because it introduces reason. People will have the freedom and educ
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L
Oct 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: university


This book, on what is enlightenment by Immanuel Kant is informative, illuminating and insightful. The best way for me to describe my own personal reading experience, is through a poem (written by myself):

I know not what he says to me,
Yet I feel it in my chest,
Burning, breaking,
Splitting in two parts,
As though all fancies flew,
Torn, at a glance


This enlightening read is about understanding, as a spark or a lightbulb moment. One could very well, Sapere aude (dare to be wise!) when reading this book
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Walter Schutjens
It is always interesting to read critical arguments for the values that we currently hold for granted. Especially when written in the Renaissance by such a thinker as Immanuel Kant, you know this text has shaped the course of history.

In this essay Kant explores the relation of enlightenment, which he describes as freeing ourselves from self incurred nepotism, to the question of free speech and the structure of society. This to us is a very basic idea, pay your taxes, dont question the preacher,
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Ipsa
Feb 25, 2020 rated it liked it
read this for my socio-political philosophy paper. and I'm not sure if I should hate on it for advocating the deontological tyranny of reason, or admire it for its individualist echoes.
it's also kind of angering to see it being appropriated by the proponents of positive liberty into justifying despotism and totalitarian regimes; as very coolly analysed by Isaiah Berlin in his article, 'Two Concepts of Liberty.'
Sujith Ravindran
Feb 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Argue as much as you like and about whatever you like, but obey!" - Immanuel Kant
Salman Ravoof
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
"Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity."
Immanuel Kant answers the question in the first line itself. The rest of the text is explaining the reasoning behind it in classic Kantian style.
"Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why such a large part of mankind gladly remain under lifelong tutelage, long after nature has freed them from external guidance. They are the reasons why it is so easy for others to set themselves up as guardians."
Kant is arguing that laziness and
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Arno Mosikyan
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Enlightenment is man's release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage s man's inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self- incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude! "Have courage to use your own reason!"- that is the motto of enlightenment.

Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so great a portion of mankind, after nature has long since
...more
Rana Adham
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kant begins the essay with his definition of Enlightenment: "Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity."

"Immaturity is the inability to use one understanding without guidance from another."

So in essence, to be enlightened is to be able to think for yourself.

He makes a wild assertion here. According to him, the entire female species in immature:

"The guardians who have so benevolently taken over the supervision of men have carefully seen to it that the far greatest part of
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Darkvine
Mar 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Especially with philosophers, I like to test the waters by reading a thin book first before tackling one of their main (and usually heavy) works.
After a small discourse on the importance of independent thought, the next chapter sets the philosophical requirements of perpetual peace.
The appendix to the chapter on perpetual peace discusses the morality of real-world politics as difficulties toward achieving this goal.
It put me to sleep pretty much.
Immanuel Kant (1724 - 1804) seemed positive for a
...more
Tiago Faleiro
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy, owned
Decent and interesting essay on enlightenment, but I wasn't very impressed by it. Some people don't like that it sometimes sympathetic to authority, but it's good to keep in mind it was a letter to an official in the Prussian government.

Kant's thesis is that enlightenment as people's inability to think for themselves due not to their lack of intellect, but lack of courage. In short, the ability to think by oneself, without someone else's guidance. It's an appeal to the value of free thought, of
...more
Dearbhla
Apr 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Enlightenment, according to Kant, is having the courage to make your own decisions. Many people remain uneducated and childish because it is easier not to know. It is easier to rely on other people’s decisions and arguments rather than investigate and figure out what you really think about something.

I think I’d agree with him. And of course today there is so much information readily available on the internet that it is overwhelming. How much easier is it to share an outrage filter link than actu
...more
Anastasia Evchenko
Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so great a portion of mankind, after nature has long since discharged them from external direction (those who have come of age by course of nature), nevertheless remains under lifelong tutelage, and why it is so easy for others to set themselves up as their guardians. It is so easy not to be of age. If I have a book which understands for me, a pastor who has a conscience for me, a physician who decides my diet, and so forth, I need not trouble myself. ...more
Alexandra
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I adore Kant. I got introduced to him and his work through my german teacher in high school who still has a huge impact on me. But I think I never truly read him ? Sapere aude is my life moto and I think about it so much. I read the sentences so often, I’m just fascinated by the way he thinks and the way he descripes it. Even though that I feel like I take half of the senteces most of the time and put my own thought on it and then agree with his opinion.
Henrik Haapala
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic
“Enlightenment is mans emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another. This immaturity is self-incurred if it’s cause is not lack of understanding, but lack of resolution and courage to use it without the guidance of another. The motto of enlightenment is therefore: Sapere aude! (Dare to be wise!) Have courage to use your own understanding!” Page 1
(Dare to be wise, date to use your own understanding)
TheArchive
Aug 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Kant was always most concerned with the obligation, even when he was displaying an apology of freedom. we are striving to be enlightened, we are craving it, and this choking thirsty may be more than you can handle, more than you can control; it is also are duty to be enlightened, to critic without ends. But we must obey, so let it be not only our 'natural' obligation but also an obligation legalized.
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Immanuel Kant was an 18th-century philosopher from Königsberg, Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). He's regarded as one of the most influential thinkers of modern Europe & of the late Enlightenment. His most important work is The Critique of Pure Reason, an investigation of reason itself. It encompasses an attack on traditional metaphysics & epistemology, & highlights his own contribution to these ...more

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“Enlightenment is man's release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man's inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude! 'Have courage to use your own reason!'- that is the motto of enlightenment.” 379 likes
“Dare to think!” 308 likes
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