In “What is Enlightenment? ” by Immanuel Kant, he addresses the state in society, and what we must do to help society progress from an “Age of Enlightenment” to an “Enlightened Age”. Society needs to come to a form of being enlightened or in other words the people in society need to become more informed and more knowledgeable. Kant argues firstly, that the individual must be enlightened and in order to achieve enlightenment “must be fully released from self-incurred tutelage”, which is “the release from not having the courage to use our own reason”(1784).
Once the individual is enlightened, econdly, the people or the public must be enlightened and therefore need to be free to use public reason so that they may vocalize and verbalize their understanding. WE have the ability to progress and move forward from one state to another. Improvement is the only way society can change. Our fear and our being unaware is what position us in an “age of enlightenment” and not an “enlightened age”. Firstly, What is self-incurred tutelage? Kant understood it as the main reason for enlightenment. As stated earlier Kant argues that is the lack of courage to reason.
Self-incurred tutelage can also be seen as state of immaturity. Immaturity when one does not have full potential capacity or is not fully grown whether mentally, physically, or emotionally. When one is in this state of immaturity he is afraid to use his own understanding, afraid to question, afraid to make his own decisions. “Tutelage is man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another”(Kant, 1784). Man places himself in a situation where he simply lacks the courage find things out himself and find a reason for why things are done a certain way.
Kant also argues, that immaturity is based on one being in a tate of laziness or unsurety. Being coward takes over that person and he is burdened and unable to defeat the things that block him from becoming enlightened. ” If I have book which understands for me, a pastor who has a conscience for me, a physician who decides my diet for me… I need not trouble myself (Kant, 1784). Man brings tutelage on himself when he does not take authority; instead he has handed over authority to someone else and allows a different person to make the decisions for him.
But keep in mind that self-incurred tutelage is crippling and for anyone to try to emerge from a life of owardness, it would seem to one that they were making an “uncertain leap over the narrowest ditch”. Kant recognizes that for one to release themselves from the life under tutelage is hard because tutelage becomes “almost his nature and he comes to be fond of this state”. Since he is fond of this state, using his own understanding this not something that would automatically appease him. He acknowledges this by stating that some people” nevertheless remain under lifelong tutelage”.
Moreover, Kant states that man must be free from outside direction in order to be released from the tutelage he has laced on himself. (1784) In modern day society, technology can be seen as an “outside force” that drives man further into a state of not using his own understanding. Although it allows us to be more efficient, we are still not enlightened. By typing anything we want to learn about into a Google search bar you are not thinking for yourself, but you are letting others do it for you. Humans are so dependent on each other, which is why Kant says tutelage can become life-long.
We Williams choose to let technology teach us, rather than teaching ourselves. We rely on the media to tell us what we should be earing, or tell us what and how we should be eating. People should really take control and make their own decisions, but we are lazy to seek our own authenticity. As Kant says, being a coward is one of the biggest things that stop us from being enlightened. The media, our families and friends, and technology are all forms of “outside forces” that control our opinions and keep us from living by what we believe.
If we can live our lives without being dominated by the opinions and beliefs of others, then we will truly be living in an “Enlighte Age”. Kant acknowledges that it is extremely difficult for man to et to a position of maturity alone but it is easier if a group of people to do it get there together. “Therefore, there are only a few who have succeeded by their own exercise of mind both in freeing themselves from incompetence and in achieving a steady pace” (Kant, 1784). It is when a person starts depending on other people to guide him, it is difficult to break out of that and start thinking on his own.
Kant also expresses that a person needs certain characteristics to be able leave his immature self, and this includes being fearless. Secondly, Kant goes on to say that the public needs freedom o be enlightened. He explains that public use of freedom is crucial for enlightenment. Once people start asserting themselves in an open and public place, their thoughts will then be able to influence decisions.
“For there will always be some independent thinkers, even among the established guardians of the great masses.. ill disseminate the spirit of the rational appreciation of both their own worth and every man’s vocation for thinking for himself”(Kant, 1784). These independent thinkers will then be able to judge and decide everything on their own and express themselves without fear. Williams However, Kant realizes that when one has decided come out of his immaturity and speak for himself there will be those that opposed to it and will be stuck in their ways, so he says the enlightenment of the public must be taken at a slow pace.
When man starts to use his reasoning he will become aware and start questioning why he must do certain things. Kant declares, “But all I hear on all sides, ” Do not argue! The officer says: ” Do not argue but drill! ” The tax collector: “ Do not argue but pay! ” (Kant, 1784). People often do things because they are supposed to and ever really question why they are doing it. They become disciplined in doing it one way, it does not cross the mind that it is possible to rebel against things and think for themselves.
Society is still structured this way; you must obey the laws but on the other hand, still should have the courage to use your understanding and criticize what you think is at fault or what you think should be changed. Kant then explains the difference between public use of reason and private use of reason. “Private use I call that which one may make of it in a particular civil post or office which is ntrusted to him”(Kant, 1784). In private use of reason, you have to follow rules of your profession.
You cannot speak your mind against the place you work for. Thus it would be ruinous for an officer in service to debate about the sustainability or utility of a command given to him by his superior; he must obey”(Kant, 1784). He then defines public use of reason as “anyone as a scholar” or why anyone who is there to educate the world does his or her job. Public use of reason is speaking your mind freely. “By the public use of one’s reason I understand the use which a erson makes of it as a scholar before the reading public”(Kant, 1784). Williams If you are a scholar, you can speak your mind freely to the educate people in your classroom.
When Kant uses the term “public,” he is indicating that it must be a place in which you are express your own views: a place where you will free be restricted by the obligation of their job. Progress is another major value of enlightenment. It has a metaphorical meaning of growth, development, and advancement. It implies that in some from or another things are getting better because after all, no one can progress backwards. It is thought that man is to blame for everything that is wrong in the world so therefore it is man’s responsibility to change it for the better.
In order to live in an “Enlightened Age” we have to progress towards these goals. “… This gradually works back upon the character of the people, who thereby gradually become capable of managing freedom; finally it affects the principles of government, which finds it to its advantage to treat men, who are now more than machines, in accordance with their dignity”(Kant, 1784). At the end of Kant’s response, he shares what his goals were for mankind and for society. He hopes that we would have progressed into people who no longer act like machines but are people use their reasoning.
This can only happen when people use their reasoning and understanding to move society forward. Kant argued, “Progress is neither automatic nor continuous and does not measure knowledge or wealth, but is a painful and largely inadvertent passage from barbarism through civilization toward enlightened culture and the abolition of war”(Schuler, 1995). In other words, Kant is saying that progress cannot work without human control but it is capable of ceasing. Progress does not efine the capacity of a person’s wealth or how smart they will become.
It is simply an unplanned transition from being uncivilized to being advanced. Once we have progressed then we are able to look back and condemn ourselves for the past and our way of living. Once we know better we can look forward into making a better future. In conclusion, Kant was arguing that society, in his era is not in the “Enlightened Age” but was in the “Age of Enlightenment”. The process of enlightenment was still in progression. This was and still is what individuals and society are contesting with.
The society of Kant’s time was still the “Age of Enlightenment” because the majority of the individuals were still under tutelage that is self- imposed. We are currently in an “Age of Enlightenment”, rather than an “Enlightened Age” because there are many people who do not agree with the opinions of strong individuals or someone who brings forward anopposing claim. People very rarely have original thoughts. We are given the way and means to be in an enlightened age, but only few adhere to that power. As Kant reaffirms, “Sapere aude! “Have courage to use your own reason! —That is the motto of enlightenment” (Kant, 1784).