In my opinion, for Kant’s “What is Enlightenment?” the quality that make it become a masterpiece, is the historical background. Since in 17th century and in 18th century, French was still a monarchy country, the Roman Catholic Church controlled the thoughts. Under the pressure of the autocracy, people are so desired to be free in mind; therefore, the punishment of “What is Enlightenment?” is meaningful.
The theme “What is Enlightenment?” make it possible for people to enlighten themselves. What’s more, “What is Enlightenment?” points out the reasons that why people can’t have their own minds and why people never “cultivated their minds.” In Kant’s age, they may escape from the Church and the Monarchy, but finally people are unable to throw off the yoke of their immaturity due to a lack of resolution to be autonomous. Resulting from lack of ideas of thinking for themselves, it is hard to work their ways out of an immature, cowardly thinking pattern.
I learned “What is Enlightenment?” in ENG 2850. I connected this article with personal self-knowledge. In the modern society, there is no longer any religion organization control people’s mind. In the mind-free age, we try to know ourselves instead of this society. People try to figure out the meaning of the lives and how to do can make their lives better. This self-knowledge makes people try to know themselves.
In my personal experiences, it is hard for human being to know that what they want and how to achieve their goals. With increase of social experiences, people finally become mature enough to find out the meaning of their lives. Kant’s “What is Enlightenment?” is inspiring model society to rethink the path of life or may path of career.
“What is Enlightenment?” reminds me a painting, “Liberty Leading the People.” The painting is about the July Revolution of 1830, which toppled King Charles X of France. The street battle scenes that captured the crucial moment of the July Revolution victory are cleverly combined with freehand and realism in a romantic way, using rich and blazing colors and contrasting light and dark, full of dynamic composition, unrestrained strokes, and compact. The structure reflects the enthusiasm of the revolutionaries, praising the July Revolution with workers, petty bourgeoisie and intellectuals as the main participants. This work has become a symbol of the national spirit of France.
Although based on different historical background, two master pieces deliver a though that citizens should have own minds to think about the country and the society. If people are suffered, they should resistant to oppression. The ability to introspection social system is the means to improve the social system. No matter what social systems or the generation, all citizens should have their own perspectives on the society, rather than be controlled in mind.
The part of text challenges me most is the way we use reasoning. The conflicts of private use of reasoning and the public use of reasoning show that no one can truly use his freedom to do anything. Since facing some social reasoning, if the citizen just does what he/she wants, he/she will break the social rules and principles.