Oh you lazy coward!!!!
After reading Kant’s Enlightenment I have to plainly state that I agree with him. Although enlightenment is often thought of in spiritual terms, such as establishing a closer connection to God and understanding the full meaning of life, Kant states that he views enlightenment as a person’s “emergence from his self-imposed immaturity”. The key words that jumped out at me when I read this sentence were “self-imposed” and “immaturity”. In order to dissect exactly what Kant means, we need to define what he means by immaturity and how it’s self-imposed. So in Kant’s terms, immaturity basically means that a person can’t make decisions for himself/herself. For example, my friends and I always have a problem of choosing where to sit in the dining hall. After some time of indecision, someone usually takes charge and we follow them. So, does this mean that we are immature? Well, yes, but only to a certain extent. According to Kant, our inability to make a decision means that we are immature, and the person that does make the decision is mature and we actually depend upon that person. This leads us to what Kant means by “self-imposed”, the fact that our immaturity is our own fault because we are lazy and we’re also cowards. In this dining hall situation, I doubt that any of us are lazy, but relating it to cowardice doesn’t seem so abstract. I mean whoever chooses the place we sit at is technically taking responsibility, specifically responsibility for our experience. This includes whether the people who are sitting around us are nice or not, whether we laugh a lot or not, and so on. I mean sure this probably has almost nothing to do with where we sit, but people are often quick to blame others for experiences, especially negative ones. When thinking about being mature as taking responsibility, it’s definitely easier to see why Kant says people remain immature and why people choose to remain immature in that sense. I mean responsibility is not fun, we’re told that from an early age. Ever since I was little, I remember wanting to be older and having freedom, but I also remember being told by everyone who was older that I should enjoy being young and that I shouldn’t want to grow up so fast. At the time I totally disagreed, I mean I was so ready to be able to drive a car and go the mall on my own! Well, if only life was actually that easy. I didn’t realize that growing up meant not only having so much more to do but also taking responsibility for all of my actions. I loved being younger and doing things that may have been “bad” but not being blamed for them because I was only a child and I didn’t know any better. Now it seems like no matter how small of a mistake I make, it’s a big deal and I have to fix it all by myself! Not only that, but it seems like whenever you do do something bad everyone focuses to make it seem ten times worse than it actually is, but when you do something nice it’s barely noticed. Oh world, why do you have to be so cruel sometimes? Just thinking about it now, I do agree with Kant that people are immature due to their own laziness and cowardice. However, just focusing on the cowardice that’s mostly caused by being afraid of taking responsibility, it’s no wonder that so many people choose to stay immature, aka impose it on themselves. After all, it is easier to be a follower than a leader!