Immanuel Kant: “What Is Enlightenment?”

(1784)

Explanation and Analysis of the Document

“What Is Enlightenment?” endeavors both to defend freedom of thought as the primary human imperative and to liberate the Enlightenment movement at large from the doctrinaire fetters of church and state. In short, Kant argues that enlightenment is the conscious decision of humanity to throw off its yoke of immaturity—consisting of the allegedly unchangeable truths pronounced by revealed religion, political ideology, and social conditioning—in order to progress to full maturity. That Kant perceives immaturity and maturity alike as free human...

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Frederick the Great of Prussia (Library of Congress)

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