Enlightenment: Freedom from Self-Incurred Tutelage

Enlightenment is man’s ability to courageously use his own reason as the guiding force of his understanding without the interference of another. However, Immanuel Kant observes that the majority of the population is restrained from this ability to think rationally and freely as a result of laziness and cowardice. Kant believes that man remains captive by his own self-incurred tutelage and escaping this tutelage is incredibly difficult; only a handful of individuals have successfully broken free. In Kant’s opinion, freedom is the key to achieving enlightenment. He states, “the public use of one’s reason must always be free, and it alone can bring about enlightenment among men.” Kant emphasizes that opportunity for enlightenment must be attainable, namely, freedom must be present; restraint stifles human nature.

Frederick II is an example of an enlightened monarch chiefly because he sought the best for his domain. He also is representative of the age of enlightenment because he permitted freedom of the press. Scholars could freely advocate and even publish their critiques of active laws. In Frederick’s mind, success of an administration is dependent on the actions and character of the sovereign. He viewed himself connected to and representative of his state. Thus, Frederick devoted himself to his state so that progress toward general enlightenment could be achieved.