« Philosophize This!

Episode #061 ... Kant pt. 6 - What is Enlightenment?

2015-06-14 | 🔗

On this episode of the podcast, we discuss Kant’s answer to the question “What is enlightenment?” We begin by recounting the story of how Kant came to answer this question in the first place and why this was an important question to consider at the time. Next, we examine why Kant believed that we impose immaturity on ourselves by outsourcing our thinking to others. Finally, we discuss why it takes courage to think for yourself and the importance of “daring to be wise." All this and more on the latest episode of Philosophize This!

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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goes back to the show. It may just be a click for you, but every little bit adds up. Thank you for wanting to know more today than you did yesterday, and I hope you love the show it was a cold dock cloud covered night in the seventeen eighty three, a small handful of european revolutionaries gathered together in secret to discuss their future plans. They called themselves when they met in secret. The wind stay society. I know what you're thinking Wednesday society, really not a very good name, an ominous revolutionary secret society. Really you guys put your heads together, that's what you landed on Wednesday society. I can see why you think that, but the reason- that's not a bad name for this particular society is because there was an ominous going on at these secret meetings at all Wednesday. Wednesday was just
the day of the week they metal they also call themselves. The friends of the enlightenment is a friendly secret society. They gathered together every week and solidarity in support of this enlightenment that was going on. They talked about the good, the bad, the potential mistakes, to avoid in future. These people had the presence of mind to realize that they were immersed right in the middle of a massive cultural movement that was going on this Wednesday society, but like a big pro enlightenment support group at their Allah, part of, in fact, to the members of the secret to say They were. The editors and founders of a super pro enlightenment magazine at the time well magazine slashed journal, slash periodical collection of pro and light. Ideas like guys ever wonder what the opinions the newspaper was like two hundred years ago. That's kind of weird question, but I do I should go back and read the stuff. Sometimes it's so cool Like it's fastening to see what kind of questions the average person thought were worth asking back there, you know given win,
where they lived in history. What did they think the most pressing issues? we're facing them during their time. Known that note, what's even more fascinating. For me, at least is just how simple the things they worried about are the things we worry about its fascinating just how many of these questions that they asked we still haven't resolved. This question today may be one those questions. But anyway, one of these two editors and founders of this magazine that I'm talking about was named Johann Biester, no Johann Bistro. In the year, one thousand seven hundred and eighty three anonymous Lee published an essay in this magazine. That is where the title of the essay was Proposal not to engage the clergy any longer when marriages are conducted now pretty obvious what the point of the essay was right there in the title. And by the way, this essay and in this whole sentiment this was a very enlightenment. Kind kind of things is a a markedly enlightenment, see boosters writing
Sesar and he's he's very self aware of where he fits into the context of history. As I said before, these guys knew that they were smack dab in the middle of a massive cultural shift. That was going on very aware of the momentum of society. Moving in the direction of more secular institutions and of the church was less and less no longer a a moral authority of the world. The church was increasingly having less and less involved in government. So what this article aim to do with but I think a very natural next step, a very natural next question. Actually what about marriage? Where does marriage fit into this new world? Marriage? Certainly, the past has been an exclusively religious ceremony. What together here today were being bound together in holy matrimony under the eyes of our Lord Jesus Christ and in his partner in crime God and all those
But why is marriage exclusively a religious ceremony? That's the question right. Why does the church have to have a monopoly over this? Why can't it be a simple ceremony? Why can't it be something that the government does? I mean? After all, if you think about it, aside from the moral implications of merited aside from the belief that somebody might hold that it's a moral thing to do to commit yourself to one person for the rest of your life people getting married is actually a pretty good thing for the government to write married citizen is a stable citizen. A married person is a stable person. It's a person that has something to lose its approach, probably by and large, is going to be thinking about their future thinkin about their family and because of that they're, probably going to be a stable monogamous taxpaying productive member of society paying into the very tax pull that funds. The government if you're the government. Why? Wouldn't you give someone a tax, pray for getting married marriage, like a lost leader for it it it gets people in the door. You,
your money back, one where the other? The point is on the point of eastern essay was: why do the clergyman somehow have a monopoly over marriage. Why can't marriage be something else? Why can't marriage be a civil procedure carried out by a judge overseen by the state? Why can't it be that we all know who eventually won this argument that it's not the point of the episode today. As you can imagine at the time the essay was released. Not everyone agreed with removing this power from the hands of the clergymen. Many of the people that disagreed with it were of a religious bent themselves. One of them in particular, was named Reverend Johan Zoner, and he responded to this anonymously written essay with a question. It was a very
good question the question was so good and so necessary to answer at the time that I don't think personally, I don't think Reverend owner could have ever anticipated the level of response that he was gonna get to this question. But before we talk about that quick background on Zoner Zoner was a proponent of the enlightenment himself right. This guy was a fan of enlightenment thinking, but he looked at this article in particular, and he thought it was gonna. Too far right, marriage is just on a different level than all the other stuff see designer the enlightenment was good for some things like you know, guys we, the secret society meetings. This is all fun and good. We we up here on Wednesday the Wednesday society we all show up and have our fun secret meetings, talk about stuff, a fun, little game we're playing when it comes to some things, but when it comes to the internet, pollution of marriage. Now things are starting to get out of hand. Nay, guys are starting to get ridiculous. Now. You're start to question the foundations of morality itself, now turnip play God. Marriages just way too important.
Ever muddle up and all these these human created institutions that we're trying to use its best left in the hands of the church. He basically was saying: look just think about what you're doing here right. Think about your actions before you, he said famously quote: confuse the heart: The minds of the people in the name of the enlightenment end quote because after all, he s right after that, what is enlightenment anyway, anyway mean look. We have these today's society meetings, where we talk about the enlightenment all the time, but whoever decided the end goal of the enlightenment was what is enlightenment? What are we even trying to do here, because if it's going to go in this direction, maybe I need a new definition from you guys? Maybe I need to start the Thursday society or some other day of the week. What was one of those questions that was so obvious? No, not even thought to answer it. Yet what is enlightenment,
What is enlightenment? Here's a a beautiful question specially at the time know we talk a lot on this point cast about this age of enlightenment and look, I know for a fact you people, sitting and homeless, into this, I'm I'm watching, but I know for a fact that I've used that term age of enlightenment. Over and over again- and many of you have been sitting there, thinking what is enlightenment, Stephen Wester thrown around this term, age of enlightenment enlightenment, towards what progress from what, by saying the term enlightenment? Aren't you making a ton of assumptions yourself? Look at you you're becoming a little philosophers so proud. This getting anyway, when zone or pose this question, it was well I mean it went viral, so to speak. It was like a circus. Everyone wanted to respond to this question. Dozens and dozens of flocks of respected intellectuals gave their to sense, but no one's response was more famous, more influential, more
ground breaking then almost a year after he asked this question when an answer was given by none other than the man we ve been talking about. The last few episodes of this pod cast. Mr Manual can't see money caught at a very unique perspective and see we're just gonna sit back and let this little diversion tactic that zone or does slide. No doubt this is about the question that solar brings the table. What is enlightenment it's worth asking, but they can also be something else right I can also be somebody's primary argument. Having no merit so then they ask elusive unanswerable diversion I should like to try to leave the conversation. The a stalemate that way there to address the real problem, the fact that their argument sucks right, for example, I already know this- is going to be terrible. But let's say your girlfriend comes up to you right, John John, you know John we've been together for three months now: we've had some good times. We've had some bad times some arguments, but you know what it's just not working out for me. I'm going to have to leave
if you are I'm just not happy with you, John I'm just not happy, I'm sorry, but it's all hold a polar Cindy. Although I hear you I'm looking at you I'm here and what you're saying, but just answer me one question: you say you are not happy with me. What is happiness Cindy described me. What happiness is at its essence? What is happiness, because we can answer that and I'm afraid we can have this conversation, sending we're still together, one of your young gentleman to try that summit. No concept of none of that and waste. No time taken zone is question head on in actually the very first sentence of his responses owner. What is enlightenment zone or ass concepts quote enlightened. Is man's emergence from his self incurred, immaturity, end quote, but what does he mean by that? What does he mean by? It seems like you say, and I want to seem like em put, words and cons mouth here, but it seems to me like what he saying that if you are not person,
essentially doing you're walking around throughout your life in a self imposed state of maturity. Now. Why would he say that? Well Ten fully worries coming from with this. We need to understand some historical context. We need to understand something about what it to be one of these people that would be going to one of these Wednesday society Meetings one of these people living in the seventeen hundreds fully aware that they're immersed in the middle of a massive cultural shift, that's going on now to be one of these people, The question that you would either ask yourself for beet: have people on the Wednesday society asking you. Have we arrived at our destination? Have we done it? Are we now and enlightened people? think about it from their perspective. You can see why they'd ask this. Let me just look at what they've accomplished Look at the scientific method that we created. Look at all the progress. Look at these, these new systems of government that we have looked at all the
progress is being made on a daily basis in practically every field, and you compare that's the darkness it we lived in for a third years during the middle ages. Look, let's just call a spade a spade. We are enlightened. Now, we've done it we've Our two of duty we ve when the metals in the field of battle. Now, let's wear them proudly across our chests and walk around enlightened people write what caught realized something people love to wear the metals, didn't always loved to earn the metals see whenever com Thus this question: he always responded, but the same thing. We don't look in an enlightened age. No, we live in an age each of enlightenment we hadn't arrived at our destination. Yet in the seventeen but we certainly were on the right path to get their consent. Just think about that statement. For a second, though, it really does beg a question about how Kant thought we were as a species before we were in the age enlightenment, like if we're in an age of enlightenment. Now what were we before that? It really will seems like Consarn?
thought during his lifetime in a state of kind of like like young adulthood, right like they still had it? of work to do you know a ton of lessons to learn in their lifetime. They weren't quite an adult yet, but at least they weren't what they were before right a child. A passenger to whatever arbitrary superstitions indoctrinated decided to place value one at the time. You know when you really think about it, and this is coming from me by the waves I'll, throw this term around lightly. That's deep mid. This is why the first sentence of response to to remedy this question is: is: is man's emergence from his self incurred, immaturity he's, comparing the development of human thought to the development of a single person's life casually mean see. We all start out. His children right were born. We we our baby food, but the rocket ship come in for a landing. We write when we're born. We realise very quickly that we were
or into a world where the nature of existence is very finite, mean at best, and I mean at best we only have two parents to With a very limited set of experiences themselves, most of the time the with these two people live there life there really just doing the best they can everyday mean are out there trying to cure cancer. There is trying to get to another shift at the factory that wanted to off themselves as children. We don't have some You know infinite bookshelf that spans off into the horizon to pull from. No, have a limited number of books to read a limited, number of cartoons to watch a limited number of church services to attend, relatives, to consult, etc. One thing's for sure, what's a our childhood never consists of us walking around the playground number five years old, Socrates right some, immensely educated, wise, enlightened being right? It's never like that, but it shouldn't be that way anyway. Right,
On the other hand, that's one of the great things about being a kid. You got nothing to worry about. Yes, so many adults to recount the greatest moments in their life and how often do they cite some time in their life when they had zero obligations? Right, however, into adult sit there in the car until their kids, you think you got it bad as a kid way You have all the stresses of adulthood, then you're really gonna have a bad will. You have all the bills. What do you have the commitments? What do you have all the people that you're beholden to a boss every single day? You better enjoy being a kid. Why you can't not to mention the fact that when you're a kid, your life is pretty stress free right, because whenever you have a there's always a very clear solution to what that problem? Is you have at your disposal as a kid essentially to to oracles of the universe that you can go to with any problem and they instantly have a solution for you, their names are mom and dad right I mean you go to the play.
To get a booboo on your foot. You come up to my Let me say I gotta Bubu. She looks at it. She puts him the sporting abandoned. She has the answer to the problem. They know exactly what to do about it, someone's mainly at school. You PETE come home yet tell them what they they know exactly how to handle that problem. Next time, there's comfort in having that right, sources, comfort, and knowing that you have someone to solve the problems for you, you know that same note. I've known people that have quit their. Job in the corporate world and aid. They think that being their own boss is gonna, be the greatest thing. That's ever happened to them, but the flips, That is when you are your own boss, when there's a big problem that comes up you're, the only guy that can make that decision you're the person that decides whether that problem sinks are swims, there's comfort, and having the resource of having someone to go to and ask what the best course of action is so that you're, not the
when making the decision that might potentially fail. Here's what I'm getting at when we become adults, bad stuff, still might happen to you five minutes from now right. You still may get the booboo on your foot, except this time. The bug on your foot might be that your house is getting foreclosed on this time. It might be that your liver is shutting down. You need medication, you need a surgery or something bad stuff still happens. It's still terrifying to not know the future. So what do we do about it? How can we be sure that none of this bad stuff is ever going to happen to us? Well, this is where con comes and consents that as children What we do is we outsource different components of our life. To other people we need to buy means and assess Gimme literally when we get a one or foot never had this problem before it's one of the worst. Things that has ever happened to us, we don't know what to do. We
source the solution to the problem, to somebody else, our parents, but we become dependent on this process. We become dependent on not thinking for ourselves. It feels good. It feels so good it says that we extend this way of doing business into adulthood. I mean think about it, there's no there's no right of past It's between childhood in adulthood. Right, I mean there's no magic ceremony that takes place where we go from not capable of thinking for ourselves to capable of thinking for ourselves. Now we just live one continuous existence. So what? do we make the decision to start thinking for ourselves and not just do the best of of whatever parents or the the people around us are doing. When says says in It meant is man's emergence from his self incurred immaturity. But he saying is that most people find so much third and ease in this lifestyle, this lifestyle of
sourcing, your thoughts on everything to the people around you during childhood, that they just never stop doing it. They turn eighteen and they find a college professor to think for them they turned twenty one. They find charismatic radio personalities, they turned forty and they find hockey. Cable news. Commentators They live their lives, seeing themselves as autonomous adults, but just think of what they're doing here think about they're outsourcing, their entire life to other people, It says quote it so easy to be immature. If I have a book to serve as my understanding, a the service, my conscience, a physician. Determine my diet for me and so on. I need not, zirk myself at all. I need not think if only I can pay others will readily undertake the irksome work for me end quote just listen to the first line of that. It's so easy to be immature right. It's easy! It's so
is he defines the inner to go down to Barnes a noble and find a single book on a subject, memorize a few tag lines of coincide, sermon them. Whenever the topic comes up in conversation now, will you just parent whenever this Arthur said and pass it on your own thoughts, so easy to outsource your understanding, the people now that same no, it so easy to just go to church Sunday memorize a few taglines and insights from what a pastor told you is the correct way to act, and then, whenever your face with a moral dilemma or a difficult choice to make about what the right decision is, will you just pair it whatever the past? you're set on Sunday and pass it off as your own decision it so easy to out source, your conscience in this way the nutrition example, so easy to find a nutrition guru right, find some website that tells you Everything you're doing wrong with your diet that they lay out exactly what you should eat at exactly that
time, and this is why you're feeling lethargic right now- and this is why you have energy at this time and whenever someone asks you for diet, advice you just whatever that nutrition Guru guy said on the internet. What I'm saying is it's so easy? outsource every element of your life and allow someone else to think, for you can't talks about how funny this contradiction. As you know, people claim to love this idea of freedom. They think they claim to love this idea of truly being able to exercise their ability to choose caught, says to have a say in the matter, but how many of us just fine? Someone else to outsource are thinking too and then wash our hands of the process so if you're ever using our brains to think Con says that people love to talk about it, people love to talk about how much they love freedom, but this immaturity this extension of their childhood. This looking to others for your own thoughts, it's a cage that we trap ourselves in. It's a self imposed cage, it's a cage where you never think for yourself. We are constantly at the mercy,
whatever people you arbitrarily decided to believe at the time and it's crazy because it comes down to complete randomness, sometimes right, like you're walking through barns and noble, and that happened to be the book that was right there on the table. That happened to be the nutrition website that can up in your search engine results that happened to be the church that was the closest to your house. It's a self incurred, cage of the maturity that we put ourselves in now. There's good news to this. If this is getting depressing, there's good news The key to that cage right now is hanging around your neck. The key out of this cage is around everyone's neck, but they don't use it. They choose not. To, and Kant says it's not it's not a death sentence right. It's not like we stay in this self incured state of immaturity because we're somehow incapable of getting out of it. It's not that people are too stupid to get out of it. It's not a lack understanding of how to get out of it. But Khan says the reason why they don't is always one of two things. The first one is that they're comfortable where they're at remember. He said it in the first quote:
so easy to be immature. So what inevitably happens happens? Is people take the key from around neck neck in this? They they leave the cage for while and and they just can't handle it too much start thinking for themselves, for the first time in its like they're, using this muscle, that they ve never used before its incredibly uncomfortable its atrophied They never used as part of their brain before my eyes, whip Plato's, allegory, the cave, but it's it's comment that seen under the matrix right when YO first emerges into the real world and he's opening his eyes for the first time is asking Morpheus. Why do my eyes hurt you ve, never use them before NEO paraphrasing there, but you know what I'm saying concepts it. What happens? Is people usually just out of laziness, retreat back into the cage, letting other people think for them, because it so comfortable it so much more difficult to think for yourself. This so many incredible quotes it gives in his responses owner, he said quote
It is because of laziness and cowardice that so great a part of humankind after nature has long since emancipated them from other people's direction. Nevertheless, gladly remains minors, for it is so comfortable to be a minor. He has even grown fond of it and quote now, as you probably heard, the quote that I just read. The second reason cock gifts for why people keep themselves in this cage is cowardice they lack the courage to ever stand up and use their intellect first glance. This may seem strange, like they lack the courage seemed counter intuitively. Why would someone lack the courage to use their bread as much as they can. Why would it be scary to use your brain at first? I didn't get it at least well. Think back to why cop thinks we started thinking this way in the first place, because we were kids right when you're a kid
it actually is really scary to think for yourself. I mean what, if something bad happened, so you ve never seen before I've never been here before. I dont know anything, but is concepts that fear that you have that drives you when that moment in childhood, here doesn't magically leave you the moment you throw the graduation had up in the air. There's no right of passage. Think think about it. It's scary to think for yourself what, if I'm wrong, what that terrible thing happens to me that I've always been thinking about what, if I do this whole process of thinking for myself, and then people people were I mean they think I'm an idiot and and and I'm some cast out into the woods- and I don't have a tribe anymore. This is a big deal to consider you guys, because I mean just because he read books and you'd, listen to educational podcast. It doesn't mean you love to think about stuff, necessarily right, I'm sure we all know someone like this. If you could just be reading books to have thoughts to recite when someone asked you a question, does not
loving to think about stuff, that's fuelled by insecurity? Oh my god. What does somebody asked me a question, and I don't have an answer to it. I better of it are listened to these pod casting get an answer to it. That's fear, driving you but caught says we can't let this fear. A failure or negative judgment or anything enslave us for our entire list. This far too much at stake com has some words were somebody that might be in this place that can't muster the courage to take the leap tipped think for them. How's he says quote, the danger is not in fact so great. For my a few falls they would have. Until we learned a walk, but an example of this kind makes them timid and usually frightens them away from any further attempt and quote bacon. Saying here is what if, when you were a baby, you just never learned to walk, because whenever you stood up to try to walk you fell over and that, may you have an aversion to the whole process right like what. If, when you were a baby you're trying to learn to walk you stand up, you fall over. You stand up, you fall over
what are the top? What you just gave up? What are you gonna do for the rest, your life, you gonna, get a ride around on a hover around the rest, your life! No, that's ridiculous! Now you keep trying you stand up. You fall over Oh you succeed. You learn the skills you need to walk. This is the same processes that removed yourself from yourself incurred, immaturity contest. Think for yourself fail fail Fail again and eventually, you will learn to walk, have the courage to remove yourself from this self incurred, immaturity and not outsource. Your you're thinking to everyone around you know caught says this should be a trumpet, that is sounded all throughout the land. No, the motto and slogan of the enlightenment should be that we should dare to be wise, dare to be wise to employ as that there's something holding us back. We need to be courageous enough to be wise to not. You know power in the corner, terrified. What, if we're wrong, what if we fall over a couple times, what of it hurts? No, we will follow.
It will hurt a little. We will learn our lessons, but one thing we will not be willing to do ever again is spinning The thousand years out sourcing, our thinking to whatever dogma arbitrarily lands in our lab. Not this all sounds very abrasive end and engaging to you keep in mind. This was occasionally caught style. It's been set about caught by people before that he didn't teach people philosophy, he taught them to philosophize. So I hope you get some food for thought this week that said the episodes over real briefly that the book, but I've been working on for about a year of my life now, and I put my heart and soul into its done now and then be releasing it in the next couple weeks. I really proud of what it became and want to waste your time talking about it, but I hope you'll consider checking it out, have more information about the next time we meet. But until then thank you for listening, I'm talking,
next time and I think it's appropriate to sign off in the way we use to this part cast. Thank you. Wanting to know more today, then you did yesterday.
Transcript generated on 2020-09-30.