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enlightenment study

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University of Toronto St. George

The Royal Society Modern History Sourcebook: Dr. John Wallis: The Origin of The Royal Society, 1645-1662 From Account of Some Passages of his Life, 1700 We would by no means be thought to slight or undervalue the philosophy of Aristotle, which has for many ages obtained in the schools. But have (as we ought) a great esteem for him, and judge him to have been a very great man, and think those who do most to slight him, to be such as are less acquainted with him. He was a great enquirer into the history of nature, but we do not think (nor did he think), that he had so exhausted the stock of knowledge of that kind as that there would be nothing left for the enquiry of aftertimes, as neither can we of this age hope to find out so much, but that there will be much left for those that come after us..... From A Defence of the Royal Society, 1678 Our meetings there were very numerous and very considerable. For, besides the diligence of persons studiously inquisitive, the novelty of the design made many to resort there; who, when it ceased to be new, began to grow more remiss, or did pursue such inquiries at home. Immanuel Kant, What is Enlightenment? IMMANUEL KANT An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment? Konigsberg in Prussia, 30th September, 1784. Enlightenment is mans emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use ones own understanding without the guidance of another. This immaturity is self-incurred if its cause is not lack of understanding, but lack of resolution and courage to use it without the guidance of another. The motto of enlightenment is therefore: Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own understanding! Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why such a large proportion of men, even when nature has long emancipated them from alien guidance (naturaliter maiorennes), nevertheless gladly remain immature for life. For the same reasons, it is all too easy for others to set themselves up as their guardians. It is so convenient to be immature! If I have a book to have understanding in place of me, a spiritual adviser to have a conscience for me, a doctor to judge my diet for me, and so on, I need not make any efforts at all. I need not think, so long as I can pay; others will soon enough take the tiresome job over for me. The guardians who have kindly taken upon themselves the work of supervision will soon see to it that by far the largest part of mankind (including the entire fair sex) should consider the step forward to maturity not only as difficult but also as highly dangerous. Having first infatuated their domesticated animals, and carefully prevented the docile creatures from daring to take a single step without the leading-strings to which they are tied, they next show them the danger which threatens them if they try to walk unaided. Now this danger is not in fact so very great, for they would certainly learn to walk eventually after a few falls. But an example of this kind is intimidating, and usually frightens them off from further attempts. Thus it is difficult for each separate individual to work his way out of the immaturity which has become almost second nature to him Thus only a few, by cultivating the;r own minds, have succeeded in freeing themselves from immaturity and in continuing boldly on their way. A revolution may well put an end to autocratic despotism and to rapacious or power-seeking oppression, but it will never produce a true reform in ways of thinking. Instead, new prejudices, like the ones they replaced,
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