Age Enlightenment Essays

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The use, therefore, which an appointed teacher makes of his reason before his congregation is merely private, because this congregation is only a domestic one (even if it be a large gathering); with respect to it, as a priest, he is not free, nor can he be free, because he carries out the orders of another.

But as a scholar, whose writings speak to his public, the world, the clergyman in the public use of his reason enjoys an unlimited freedom to use his own reason to speak in his own person.

Many affairs which are conducted in the interest of the community require a certain mechanism through which some members of the community must passively conduct themselves with an artificial unanimity, so that the government may direct them to public ends, or at least prevent them from destroying those ends.

Here argument is certainly not allowed -- one must obey.

For there will always be some independent thinkers, even among the established guardians of the great masses, who, after throwing off the yoke of tutelage from their own shoulders, will disseminate the spirit of the rational appreciation of both their own worth and every man's vocation for thinking for himself.

But be it noted that the public, which has first been brought under this yoke by their guardians, forces the guardians themselves to remain bound when it is incited to do so by some of the guardians who are themselves capable of some enlightenment -- so harmful is it to implant prejudices, for they later take vengeance on their cultivators or on their descendants.The touchstone of everything that can be concluded as a law for a people lies in the question whether the people could have imposed such a law on itself.Now such religious compact might be possible for a short and definitely limited time, as it were, in expectation of a better.Statutes and formulas, those mechanical tools of the rational employment or rather misemployment of his natural gifts, are the fetters of an everlasting tutelage.Whoever throws them off makes only an uncertain leap over the narrowest ditch because he is not accustomed to that kind of free motion.Actually, however, this danger is not so great, for by falling a few times they would finally learn to walk alone.But an example of this failure makes them timid and ordinarily frightens them away from all further trials.He will say, "Our church teaches this or that; those are the proofs which it adduces." He thus extracts all practical uses for his congregation from statutes to which he himself would not subscribe with full conviction but to the enunciation of which he can very well pledge himself because it is not impossible that truth lies hidden in them, and, in any case, there is at least nothing in them contradictory to inner religion.For if he believed he had found such in them, he could not conscientiously discharge the duties of his office; he would have to give it up. Immaturity is man's inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. I need not think, if I can only pay -- others will easily undertake the irksome work for me.This immaturity is self-imposed when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. That the step to competence is held to be very dangerous by the far greater portion of mankind (and by the entire fair sex) -- quite apart from its being arduous is seen to by those guardians who have so kindly assumed superintendence over them.

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