Immanuel Kant during what is known as the enlightened period asked the world, who are the enlightened? Better still, What is true enlightenment? Since Kant states that true enlightenment is ones courage to use your own reasoning without direction from another, the answer is simple; we who chose to be self-thinkers are already enlightened(Kant, 263). Kant explains that the issue of Enlightenment is not if you have the means to reason for yourself. Since we all have an inalienable right to be self-thinkers, the issue instead lies in ones courage to do so. Throughout his work, Kant shows the way that anyone can be Enlightened.
So many people up until the Enlightenment period of the 18th and 19th centuries, made excuses as to why they did not think as an enlightened thinker. Kant spoke of the majority at this time that “a book which understands for me, a pastor who has a conscience for me, a physician who diets for me…I need not trouble myself. I need not ...view middle of the document...
Your “failures make you timid and will ordinarily frighten you away from future trials”. This is where the bigger problem arises. It is not that we may fall down and find failure in our steps to self-thinking, but to have the courage to stand up again. But Kant explains to us that if the cattle fall a few times, they would finally learn to walk alone. There are some enlightened thinkers who have fought with courage and with enough pace to think for themselves, but to do so is to think solely by yourself with a great importance of individualism. The public masses may find enlightenment but at a very slow pace. Even with Revolution the masses will find freedom, but not a self-thinking philosophy. Individualism is the key to what we now see in society today as enlightened human beings.(Kant, 263-264)
Individualism sparks enlightenment, and in turn enlightenment sparks advancement in every aspect of modern day life as we know it. If this were not true, then how did the United States become its own government free from British tutelage? For that matter, how then did all the world become free from imperialistic forces and give back their own free thinking ideas? Only through free thinking as Kant explains. That being said, “Do we now live in an enlightened age? The answer is no. But we do live in an age of enlightenment.”(Kant,267) The steps toward free thinking are never ending. Having the courage to realize and follow that idea makes you an enlightened thinker. Choice is the first step to finding out what lies beyond the fields you know. Choice is what led Kant himself to becoming one of the first few in history on the path to enlightenment.
Kants’ entire life’s work in enlightenment thinking can be brought together in one question; Can anyone become enlightened? The answer he gives to us is yes. All of you who have taken off the yoke, maybe fallen a few times, but gained a proper pace in following your own path, you are already becoming enlightened. For those of you held still by the forces of laziness and cowardice, you most certainly shall be stuck where you are in your own tutelage. For those of you who decide to stand up and put forth the effort to never stop your endless path of free thinking, you truly are the Enlightened.