The freedom to use reason publicly

Neither Kant nor his contemporaries thought that they actually lived in an enlightened age. By ‘enlightenment’ they meant a process – the process of lessening the darkness, the beginning of the spread of light. The human mind was starting to shrug off the rule of arbitrary authority in the spheres of thought and belief. Intellectual immaturity is characterised by a need for direction from others; intellectual maturity is characterised by independence. ‘Nothing is required for enlightenment except freedom,’ Kant wrote, ‘and the freedom in question is the least harmful of all, namely, the freedom to use reason publicly in all matters.’ [137]

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