Kant and his Philosophical Ideas
The other name for enlightenment is the age of reason. It is a movement that took place in Europe and later in North America. The participants believed that they were illuminating the intellect of people and culture after the dark ages. Enlightenment characteristics include the concepts like liberty, reason, and the scientific method. The philosophy of enlightenment was skeptical of religion, monarchies, and aristocracy. The philosophy was influential in ushering the American and French constitutions and revolutions.
Kant defines enlightenment as the release of man from the tutelage that is self-incurred. It was the process through which the public used to rid themselves of the bondage of intellectual after sleeping for centuries. After a careful analysis of what causes tutelage, Kant proposed the requirements of enlightenment. The public is to think freely, act intelligently, and be treated according to their dignity.
There are various reasons why tutelage occurred. The first cause was laziness; people believed that it was not easy to reason and expand their knowledge. People feared to think because they did not want to enter into uncharted water. They did not want to fail in the process of learning how to walk or talk. The few of those who were bright put themselves on a higher class by depriving the public of the education and knowledge; this is the third reason. The elites complimented the fear and cowardice of the people by suppressing and not leading them ahead. This was done by the use of modern goodness that they were in and magnified the unseen and the dangers that existed in the uncharted areas of reason. Blind obedience and complacency is another reason for tutelage according to Kent. The people obeyed without challenging the norm or try to alleviate the sufferings.
Freedom is needed for enlightenment. Kant believes that people need the freedom to express themselves, this is important for enlightenment. When a person is allowed to express his opinions and thoughts with any penalty, he will offer great ideas with any restriction or fear. He promotes the freedom of speech and tolerance of different viewpoints. He also warns the people that freedom of expression should not hinder anyone from discharging the required duties to the public (Kant, 2013).
The leaders should be enlightened first before the people are enlightened. For example, the monarch cannot grant his subjects the freedom to think without considering the opposition viewpoints until he is enlightened. The government should grant the citizens their wishes and not forcing them into foolish and blind obedience. Kant expresses the need for the government to encourage the people rather than intimidating them. The society should break from the intellectual bondage of dark ages.
What is enlightenment was written in 1784; Kant simply answered the question which was put forward by Reverand Zollner, a year earlier. Zollner posed a question to the public about the removal of the clergy from marriages. The public replied but, Kant’s response is the most famous. The response represents the situation that existed. The characteristics of the situation include; the present era was different from the past in some way. The second characteristic is that it represented the upcoming events. Lastly, it meant that the world was entering into something new. Kant discussed the absence of enlightenment and the requirements for enlightenment to occur.
Kant explained the enlightenment that an individual gets after freeing from immaturity. According to Kant, immaturity is the inability to think and to depend on other people to make decisions. If a person is unable to make judgment and understand things, he is immature.
According to Kant, it is difficult for a man to reach maturity by himself, but it is possible for people to do it together. When a person relies on other people for opinions, it will be difficult to break the pattern and start to think on his own, the mistakes he makes will show the defaults in his thinking. An individual requires some qualities to grow from immaturity, for example, vigor and fearlessness.
The society was given the freedom to become enlightened. For all people to be enlightened, it should be done gently and slowly. The freedom should be exercised to some extent. The use of freedom is important for enlightenment to occur. Once the public starts to express themselves in forums, thoughts will influence the decision taken by the authority (Bristow, 2010,)
Kant shows the difference between the use of the freedom at the public level and individual level. He also shows the difference between acting on opinions and expressing one’s opinions. For example, a clergy is appointed on the condition that he will educate the given principles by the church. He has to teach the principles as they are. The clergy can however, point out any criticism that is positive for the church and then reviewed by the church seniors. For enlightenment to happen, the laws of the society must be followed.