Can People Ever Reach an Enlightened Age?
Kant describes enlightenment as ,”Man’s emergence from his self imposed immaturity. He then defines immaturity as the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another. This is where we run into a problem. We always will be using other people’s guidance. From the time people are born to when they grow old they use other people’s guidance. Children, for example, look up to their parents for guidance in almost everything they do during their younger years. Examples of this could be riding a bike or learning how to play an instrument that the parent knows how to play. As children age from their pre-teen years to, teenage years they may not seek guidance in their parents as much as they use to. Instead now they look for guidance from friends or role models. So at this point in age they still have yet to break free from what Kant describes as enlightenment.
The next stage in a person’s life would be adult hood. This is where people become most close to being “enlightened” but I argue that they still don’t reach enlightenment, or at least the kind that Kant is purposing. So while it does seem that as adults, people make their own decisions. These decisions are based off of what they have learned from other people. This is where what Mill has to say comes into play. In lecture the Professor talked about experiencing life. One example that he used was with rock climbers and their mistakes. So from this example one can see how by seeing an experience of another a person, one could be guided from not making the same mistakes that the ones in the videos did; or possibly not even want to try rock climbing. Whatever choice a person makes, they were in a way guided by some other person.
Another topic that mill expresses that is related to this is what his thought on opinions. Mill says that no matter what an opinion might be, that it is important; even the wrong opinions because we can learn from those opinions that are wrong. How I see these ideas that Mill expresses is that we are guiding each other based on what we think. People are constantly learning from each other, and then making decisions (being guided) based on what the other people are saying. So back to my question: “Can people can ever truly reach an enlightened age?” No they can’t because as we progress through time and society we will constantly be using each other’s help and guidance to make decisions that will progress society. If we were ever to actually reach an enlightened age, society would stop progressing and nothing would happen. People need to always help each other out and guide each other if we want to live in a productive society. What do you think? Can we ever actually reach and enlightened age?
All my information on Kant’s and Mill’s ideas are from this source:
-Wootton, David, ed. Modern Political Thought: Readings from Machiavelli to
Nietzsche. Second ed. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company Inc., 2008. 292-99. Print.