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Dare to Know, or the Gospel According to Kant



In the course of a close analysis of Kant’s essay in which he gives his original answer to the question, “What is Enlightenment?” I examine the causes and consequences of the theses about Enlightenment which makes a plea for emancipation from the shackles of guardianship, above all by getting rid of one’s own cowardice. In search of an answer to the question, “What is the real reason of self-incurred immaturity?” I consider the bifurcation: Is it all about unjust social institutions established in the interests of the ruling social estates, as the best European brains contended throughout the Enlightenment era, thus anticipating and justifying revolutionary upheavals, or is it within ourselves who have refused to use our reason independently and regularly? — something which Kant unequivocally considers to be everyone’s special kind of guilt. Following Kant, I look for an answer to the question, “Which limits impede Enlightenment, and which limits, far from obstructing it, are bound to promote it?” and reveal the hidden paradox of the Kantian solution: maturity has to be preceded by the granting of freedoms; and the granting of freedoms in turn calls for a mature public. I also ask the question, “Whose yoke is heavier, one’s own or the guardian’s?” and offer my version of an answer. In conclusion, I assemble all parts of the complicated and original formula of the Kantian recipe of Enlightenment. Among other things, I reveal a special type of bonding within the social organism implied by Kant, and that is the requirement to obey those who are not above us in thinking and the right to speak out in public, which ultimately means not only personal maturity, but implies also the maturity of society’s functioning in accordance with the said maxim.


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