What is Enlightenment?

Enlightenment happens when one frees himself from the shackles of society thinking for the masses and one thinks for oneself. Once one frees oneself, the mind is open to question the world for oneself and search to find answers- more than one. Immanuel Kant believed that Enlightenment was a “man’s release from his self- incurred tutelage”. This means that to be open to enlightenment, man must relieve himself from relying on others to think for him. He goes on to say that people rely on their doctors, clergy, and the knowledge of others to survive. If people did not depend on these things, they would have to think for themselves and be independent. If man never has to think for himself because others will do it for him, then he will never exercise his mind to contemplate and reason for himself. In this way, man is hindered. He gets used to not making his own decisions or solving his own problems, so he is unable to do so. Kant states that a man who is lazy and relies on guidance from others remains a minor his whole life. By staying content with this form of life, man is handing all control over to the people who direct him and make decisions for him. This is very dangerous because the people with this power may very well abuse it, leaving the passive individuals with no way to fight back for their freedom. Kant also ascertains that once man decides to think freely and detaches himself from these guardians, it will “affect(s) the principles of government” and man will be treated like “more than machines”. A man who is able and willing to think for himself commands respect and cannot be used to the advantage of another without his consent.

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