Essay on Kant And The Enlightenment Movement

1525 Words May 24th, 2016 null Page
Writing in 1784, Kant defined enlightenment as "emancipation from self-incurred tutelage", and while it is certainly true that enlightenment writers and thinkers were capable of profound disagreement among themselves, it is the common aspiration that Kant identifies which allows us to see a unified movement amongst diversity. Thus is the Enlightenment movement in which society should continue to endorse the freedom to question current situations and knowledge in order continue the ongoing process. Enlightenment, however, is not a utopian end but rather an ongoing process. In an enlightened society, a ruler or authority who is enlightened will recognize the benefits of encouraging free thought as part of this ongoing process, “… while this provisional order continues, each….should be left free to publish his criticisms of the faults of existing institutions”. By this definition, Kant did not believe he was existing in an enlightened age at the time he was writing, but rather an age of enlightenment – where progress was being made towards enlightenment, but it had as yet not been reached.

It was Edmund Bourke who, in 1789, first suggested that the French Revolution was started by the ideas and beliefs of the enlightenment philosophes. His argument is based on tradition, and that the situation in France at the time of his writing was due to the superstitions and ideas of the antiquarians – the philosophers who promoted enlightenment. These philosophers were not so much…

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