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Encyclopedia > What is Enlightenment?
The first page of the 1799 version

"Answering the Question: What is Enlightenment?" (German: "Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung?") is the title of a 1784 essay by the philosopher Immanuel Kant. In the December 1784 publication of the Berlinische Monatsschrift (Berlin Monthly), edited by Friedrich Gedike and Johann Erich Biester, Kant replied to the question posed a year earlier by the Reverend Johann Friedrich Zöllner, who was also an official in the Prussian government. Zöllner's question was addressed to a broad intellectual public, in reply to Biester's essay entitled: "Proposal, not to engage the clergy any longer when marriages are conducted" (April 1783) and a number of leading intellectuals replied with essays, of which Kant's is the most famous and has had the most impact. Kant's opening paragraph of the essay is a much-cited definition of a lack of Enlightenment as people's inability to think for themselves due not to their lack of intellect, but lack of courage. Image File history File links Size of this preview: 442 × 600 pixel Image in higher resolution (808 × 1096 pixel, file size: 369 KB, MIME type: image/png) Immanuel Kant, Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung. ... Image File history File links Size of this preview: 442 × 600 pixel Image in higher resolution (808 × 1096 pixel, file size: 369 KB, MIME type: image/png) Immanuel Kant, Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung. ... 1784 was a leap year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ... An essay is a short work of writing that treats a topic from an authors personal point of view. ... Immanuel Kant (22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804), was a German philosopher from Königsberg in East Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). ...


Kant's essay also addressed the causes of a lack of enlightenment and the preconditions necessary to make it possible for people to enlighten themselves. He held it necessary that all church and state paternalism be abolished and people be given the freedom to use their own intellect. Kant praised Frederick II of Prussia for creating these preconditions. Kant focused on religious issues, saying that "our rulers" had less interest in telling citizens what to think in regard to artistic and scientific issues. The Age of Enlightenment (French: Siècle des Lumières, German: Aufklärung) refers to the eighteenth century in European and American philosophy, or the longer period including the Age of Reason. ... Image of traditional cultural paternalism: Father Junipero Serra in a modern portrayal at Mission San Juan Capistrano, California Paternalism refers usually to an attitude or a policy stemming from the hierarchic pattern of a family based on patriarchy, that is, there is a figurehead (the father, pater in Latin) that... Frederick II (German: ; January 24, 1712 – August 17, 1786) was a King of Prussia (1740–1786) and an enlightened monarch of the Hohenzollern dynasty. ...


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Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung

Kant's opening paragraph of the essay is a much-cited definition of the Enlightenment: Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... The original Wikisource logo. ... The Age of Enlightenment (French: Siècle des Lumières, German: Aufklärung) refers to the eighteenth century in European and American philosophy, or the longer period including the Age of Reason. ...

"Enlightenment is man's emergence from self imposed immaturity ("Unmündigkeit", translated here as the phrase "immaturity and dependence") for which he himself was responsible. Immaturity and dependence are the inability to use one's own intellect[1] without the direction of another. One is responsible for this immaturity and dependence, if its cause is not a lack of intelligence, but a lack of determination and courage to think without the direction of another. Sapere aude! Dare to know! is therefore the slogan of the Enlightenment."

The German word "Unmündigkeit" means not having attained the age of majority or legal adulthood. It is sometimes also translated as "tutelage" or "nonage" (the condition of "not [being] of age"). Kant, whose moral philosophy is centered around the concept of autonomy, is distinguishing here between a person who is intellectually autonomous and one who keeps him/herself in an intellectually heteronomous, i.e. dependent and immature status. Intelligence is a general mental capability that involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend ideas and language, and learn. ... Sapere aude is a Latin phrase meaning Dare to know or Dare to be wise. Most famously, it is found in Immanuel Kants essay What Is Enlightenment?. The original use seems to be in Epistle II of Horaces Epistularum liber primus [1], line 40: Dimidium facti qui coepit... . It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Spiritual enlightenment. ... This article does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...


See also

Self efficacy is an individuals estimate or personal judgment of his or her own ability to succeed in reaching a specific goal, e. ... Playing god refers to someone supposedly taking on the role of a god for human purposes. ... Social Darwinism in the most basic form is the idea that biological theories can be extended and applied to the social realm. ... Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that beliefs should be formed on the basis of science and logical principles and not be comprised by authority, tradition, or any other dogma. ... Natural philosophy or the philosophy of nature, known in Latin as philosophia naturalis, is a term applied to the objective study of nature and the physical universe that was regnant before the development of modern science. ... Freedom of thought (also called freedom of conscience and freedom of ideas) is the freedom of an individual to hold or consider a fact, viewpoint, or thought, regardless of anyone elses view. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... This article or section may contain original research or unverified claims. ... Anti-intellectualism describes a sentiment of hostility towards, or mistrust of, intellectuals and intellectual pursuits. ... Higher criticism, also known as historical criticism, is a branch of literary analysis that attempts to investigate the origins of a text, especially the text of the Bible. ... The Golden Age of Freethought is a term sometimes used to describe the freethought boom of the late 19th century. ... In epistemology and in its broadest sense, rationalism is any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification (Lacey, 286). ... In philosophy generally, empiricism is a theory of knowledge emphasizing the role of experience in the formation of ideas, while discounting the notion of innate ideas. ... Cynicism (Greek ) was originally the philosophy of a group of ancient Greeks called the Cynics, founded by Antisthenes. ... Secularity is the state of being without religious or spiritual qualities. ... Secular humanism is a humanist philosophy that upholds reason, ethics, and justice, and specifically rejects the supernatural and the spiritual as warrants of moral reflection and decision-making. ... This section does not cite its references or sources. ... For the Finnish funeral doom metal band, see Skepticism (band). ...

External links

  • An English translation of Kant's essay

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