"Answering the Question: What Is Enlightenment?" (German: Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung?), often referred to simply as "What Is Enlightenment?", is 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 community, 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.
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.
Public use of reason is doing something in the public sphere because we choose to improve our private function. Although someone may find his job or function disagreeable, the task must be completed for society to flow consistently. He may, however, use public reasoning in order to complain about the function in the public sphere. In this essay Kant argues that the role of the state and church must be such that it allows the individual to practice their public reason. Only when the individual is allowed to practice his public reason will society as a whole progress towards enlightenment.
Staying on the religious theme, Kant asks whether a religious synod or presbytery should be entitled to "commit itself by oath to a certain unalterable set of doctrines". He answers that a contract like this prevents "all further enlightenment of mankind forever". It is impossible and immoral that the people of one generation could restrict the thoughts of the next generation, to prevent the extension and correction of previous knowledge, and stop all future progress. Based on this, later generations are not bound by the oaths of preceding generations. With freedom, each citizen, especially the clergy, could provide public comment until public insight and public opinion changes the religious institution. But Kant says that it is impossible to agree, "even for a single lifetime", to a permanent religious constitution that doesn't allow public comment and criticism. If one were to renounce enlightenment for later generations, one would be trampling on the "sacred rights of mankind". Neither an individual citizen nor a monarch has the right to constrict historical development.
Kant asks if they (those living in 1784) are living in an "enlightened age". The answer is no, but they do live in an "age of enlightenment". His point here is that because of the actions of Frederick, there are fewer obstacles to "universal enlightenment". Religious leaders may "freely and publicly submit to the judgment of the world their verdicts and opinions, even if these deviate ... from orthodox doctrine".
In 1984 French philosopher Michel Foucault published an essay on Kant's work, giving it the same title (Qu'est-ce que les Lumières?). Foucault's essay reflected on the contemporary status of the project of enlightenment, inverting much of Kant's reasoning but concluding that enlightenment still "requires work on our limits".
The Enlightenment was the root of many of the ideas of the American Revolution. It was a movement that focused mostly on freedom of speech, equality, freedom of press, and religious tolerance. The American Revolution was the time period where America tried to gain its independence from England. They got influenced very much from many philosophers. That will be discussed throughout the essay. The Enlightenment ideas were the main influences for American Colonies to become their own nation. Get Help With Your EssayIf you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!
It contained hundreds of articles and essays across a myriad of subjects, including the physical and natural sciences, mathematics, astronomy, religion, theology, history, politics, society, literature, music and the visual arts. Unlike other books of its kind Encyclopédie also contained entries on artisanship and work, covering fields like farming, architecture, engineering, carpentry, masonry and manufacturing.
This assignment pushes students to make the connection to the Enlightenment and start thinking about whether they agree with Hobbes or Locke. The question asked is: Do you believe people to be naturally good or naturally bad, and why? Students have help and scaffolding Writing a five (5) paragraph essay that discusses this question and supports your ideas by citing the ideas presented by Hobbes or Locke. You may also discuss other thinkers and events throughout history as well as your personal experiences to strengthen your argument. Formulate a thesis that states your beliefs and support your thesis with at least three paragraphs, each arguing a different point.
The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration.1 This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically--at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable. By approaching the Declaration in this way, we can shed light both on its literary qualities and on its rhetorical power as a work designed to convince a "candid world" that the American colonies were justified in seeking to establish themselves as an independent nation.2
It is unlikely that any of this was accidental. Thoroughly versed in classical oratory and rhetorical theory as well as in the belletristic treatises of his own time, Thomas Jefferson, draftsman of the Declaration, was a diligent student of rhythm, accent, timing, and cadence in discourse. This can be seen most clearly in his "Thoughts on English Prosody," a remarkable twenty-eight-page unpublished essay written in Paris during the fall of 1786. Prompted by a discussion on language with the Marquis de Chastellux at Monticello four years earlier, it was a careful inquiry designed "to find out the real circumstance which gives harmony to English prose and laws to those who make it." Using roughly the same system of diacritical notation he had employed in 1776 in his reading draft of the Declaration, Jefferson systematically analyzed the patterns of accentuation in a wide range of English writers, including Milton, Pope, Shakespeare, Addison, Gray, and Garth. Although "Thoughts on English Prosody" deals with poetry, it displays Jefferson's keen sense of the interplay between sound and sense in language. There can be little doubt that, like many accomplished writers, he consciously composed for the ear as well as for the eye--a trait that is nowhere better illustrated than in the eloquent cadences of the preamble in the Declaration of Independence.13
Far from being a weakness of the preamble, the lack of new ideas was perhaps its greatest strength. If one overlooks the introductory first paragraph, the Declaration as a whole is structured along the lines of a deductive argument that can easily be put in syllogistic form:
This is one of the most artfully written sections of the Declaration. The first sentence, beginning "Nor . . . ," shifts attention quickly and cleanly away from George III to the colonists' "British brethren." The "have we" of the first sentence is neatly reversed in the "We have" at the start of the second. Sentences two through four, containing four successive clauses beginning "We Have . . . ," give a pronounced sense of momentum to the paragraph while underlining the colonists' active efforts to reach the British people. The repetition of "We have" here also parallels the repetition of "He has" in the grievances against George III.
The fifth sentence--"They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity"--contains one of the few metaphors in the Declaration and acquires added force by its simplicity and brevity, which contrast with the greater length and complexity of the preceding sentence. The final sentence unifies the paragraph by returning to the pattern of beginning with "We," and its intricate periodic structure plays off the simple structure of the fifth sentence so as to strengthen the cadence of the entire paragraph. The closing words--"Enemies in War, in Peace Friends"--employ chiasmus, a favorite rhetorical device of eighteenth-century writers. How effective the device is in this case can be gauged by rearranging the final words to read, "Enemies in War, Friends in Peace," which weakens both the force and harmony of the Declaration's phrasing.
It is worth noting, as well, that this is the only part of the Declaration to employ much alliteration: "British brethren," "time to time," "common kindred," "which would," "connections and correspondence." The euphony gained by these phrases is fortified by the heavy repetition of medial and terminal consonants in adjoining words: "been wanting in attentions to," "them from time to time," "to their native justice," "disavow these usurpations," "have been deaf to the voice of." Finally, this paragraph, like the rest of the Declaration, contains a high proportion of one- and two-syllable words (82 percent). Of those words, an overwhelming number (eighty-one of ninety-six) contain only one syllable. The rest of the paragraph contains nine three- syllable words, eight four-syllable words, and four five-syllable words. This felicitous blend of a large number of very short words with a few very long ones is reminiscent of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and contributes greatly to the harmony, cadence, and eloquence of the Declaration, much as it contributes to the same features in Lincoln's immortal speech. 2b1af7f3a8