In short, enlightenment is achieved through the liberation of the imagination. It occurs when one abandons their pre-conceived notions of established truth and distances oneself from foreign influence to attempt to produce entirely original, progressive ideas. In order to do this Kant claims you must, “…have courage to use your own reason”, and be unafraid of failure. Enlightenment is an individualistic movement—It cannot be obtained by relying on others, and according to Kant, one must free themselves of previous impressions and political barriers. Our imaginations are shaped through derived images, thoughts, and memories that we have absorbed and perceived throughout our lives, and enlightenment is a product of transcendence of these aspects that are now deemed as limitations. Pure enlightenment is a difficult concept to grasp and imagine, and Kant believes only a minority will achieve it.
One could argue that Frederick II had an enlightened view on his role as king. Frederick II takes the stance that the king is the servant to the state, and not vice-versa. Many kings throughout history have succumbed to the indulgences that compliment the responsibility, and for his time period, Frederick II had a progressive attitude towards his position in society.
Both the Surrealist and Futurist Manifestos preach straying from the conventional and praising the artist. Written by F.T Marinetti in 1909, the Futurist Manifesto is a rejection of the past and a celebration of the present. It glorifies war, danger, and speed. Although it is an Italian document, It almost foreshadows the upcoming Russian Revolution with all the talk of crowds, revolt, militarism, and patriotism. The manifesto is in essence looking forward to the modern state. All the “speed” that Marinetti is writing about can be interpreted as the desire for increased industrial output. In addition, the artist is painted as someone who must write and paint about courage and audacity rather than “sleeplessness.”The manifesto is looking for a world where work and revolt are praised, and history is left behind. This is a world not too far off.
The Surrealist Manifesto is similar in a sense that it wants to contradict the conventional. It also gives power to the artist. Surrealism, as defined by the Andre Breton in 1925, the writer of the manifesto, is “total liberation of the mind.” They are like the futurists determined to make a revolution. These manifestos represent the rocky ground European society is resting on. The Surrealist Manifesto contradicts the emergence of reasonable thought. Its aim is to express the real function of thought. However, it is not clear what they believed the real function of thought was. With this, what was the purpose of thought to the Surrealists? In addition, why was the artist so highly praised in this era? Was it their ability to influence society and change so much, or for some other reason?