SOLUTION: HIST 1212 UCB What Is Enlightenment Written by Emmanuel Kant Analysis

58
SCIENCE AND E N LI C H T EN t.HN T ,
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STUDY QUESTIONS
1. According to Locke, what is the function of government? In other words, when people form a
government, what should they expect from their sovereign?
2. What powers does a paterfamilias have over his family? How does his role differ from a
monarch’s?
4.3 IMMANUEL KANT, WHAT IS
ENLIGHTENMENT? 1784
The most celebrated definition of enlightenment comes from the German philosopher Immanuel
Kant (1724-1804). Enlightenment, he wrote, was “man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage:
In Kant’s view, people became stuck in a childlike state by failing to think for themselves.
They could release themselves only by following their own reason rather than the dictates of
someone else.
Radical as Kant’s views appear, they did not move him to take a public stance against organized religion or against political authorities, as his support for his sovereign, the Prussian ruler
Frederick the Great, reveaJs. As strongly as Kant believed in the necessity of following one’s own
reason in theory, in reality, he thought enlightenment should develop gradually and with the
least disruption possible to existing social relations.
E
nJightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man’s inability to make
use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies
not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and
courage to use it without direction from another.
Sapere aude! (Dare to Know!] Have courage to use your
own reason!-that is the motto of enlightenment.
Laziness and cowardice are the reasons why so
great a portion of mankind, after nature has long
since discharged them from external direction, nevertheless remains under lifelong tutelage, and why it
is so easy for others to set themselves up as their
guardians. It is so easy not to be of age. If I have a
book which understands for me, a pastor who has a
conscience for me, a physician who decides my diet,
and so forth, I need not trouble myself. I need not
think, if I can only pay-others will readily undertake the irksome work for me.
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. After
the guardians have first made their domestic cattle
dumb and have made sure that these placid creatures
will not dare take a single step without the harness of
the cart to which they are confined, the guardians
then show them the danger which threatens if they
try to go alone. Actually, however, this danger is not
From Immanuel Kant, Foundation.1 of the Metaphysics of Morals, trans. by Lewis White Beck (Indianapolis: The Liberal Arts
Press, 1959), 85-91.
4.3 Immanuel Kant,
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.
For any single individual to work himself out of
the life under tutelage which has become almost his
nature is very difficult. He has come to be fond of this
state, and he is for the present really incapable of
making use of his reason, for no one has ever let him
try it out. 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. Therefore, there are only few who have succeeded by their own exercise of mind both in freeing
themselves from incompetence and in achieving a
steady pace.
But that the public should enlighten itself is more
possible; indeed, if only freedom is granted, enlightenment is almost sure to folJow. 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….
For this enlightenment, however, nothing is required but freedom, and indeed the most harmless
among all the things to which this term can properly
be applied. It is the freedom to make public use of
one’s reason at every point. But I hear on all sides,
HDo not argue!# The officer says: “Do not argue but
drill!” The tax collector: “Do not argue but pay!’ The
cleric: “Do not argue but believe!» Only one prince in
the world (Frederick the Great of Prussia) says, •Argue
as much as you will, and about what you will, but
obey!” Everywhere there is restriction on freedom.
What is Enlightenment?, 1784
59
Which restriction is an obstacle to enlightenment, and which is not an obstacle but a promoter of
it? I answer: The public’s use of one’s reason must
always be free, and it alone can bring about enlightenment among men. The private use of reason, on
the other hand, may often be very narrowly restricted without particularly hindering the progress
of enlightenment. By the public use of one’s reason I
understand the use which a person makes of it as a
scholar before the reading public. Private use I call
that which one may make of it in a particular civil
post or office which is entrusted to him…. Thus it
would be ruinous for an officer in service to debate
about the suitability or utility of a command given
to him by his superior; he must obey. But the right to
make remarks on errors in the military service and
to lay them before the public for judgment cannot
equitably be refused him as a scholar. The citizen
cannot refuse to pay the taxes imposed on him;
indeed an impudent complaint at those levied on
him can be punished as a scandal (as it could occasion general refractorine.ss). But the same person
nevertheless does not act contrary to his duty as a
citizen when, as a scholar, he publicly expresses his
thoughts on the inappropriateness or even the injustice of those levies….
If we are asked, •oo we now live in an enlightened age?” the answer is, “No,• but we do live in an
age of enlightenment. As things now stand, much is
lacking which prevents men from being, or easily becoming, capable of correctly using their own reason
in religious matters with assurance and free from
outside direction. But, on the other hand, we have
clear indications that the field has now been opened
wherein men may freely deal with these things and
that the obstacles to general enlightenment or the release from self-imposed tutelage are gradually being
reduced. In this respect, this is the age of enlightenment, or the century of Frederick.
STUDY QUESTIONS
l. Why does Kant believe one must “dare• to know? Why is it easier simply to follow the orders
and opinions of others?
2. Considering that all Enlightenment thinkers advocated for increased freedom, what specific
kinds of “freedom” does Kant prioritize?
4
Science and Enlightenment,
1600–1789
Galileo
Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) epitomized the new scientific methods of the seventeenth century, especially empiricism and experimentation. These methods
involved the effort to understand the natural world through direct human observation rather than the dogmas established by philosophers and the Catholic
Church. Galileo came from an accomplished—if impoverished—family, and
like many gifted boys in this situation, he entered a monastery and prepared
to become a monk. After completing his secondary schooling at the monastery, Galileo decided the religious vocation was not for him and entered the
University of Pisa in 1581, where he studied medicine and mathematics. These
were important fields but less esteemed than theology and “natural philosophy,” the study of the natural world or what we now call “science.”
Natural philosophy had been dominated since the thirteenth century by
a Christianized version of the writings of the ancient Greek philosopher
Aristotle (384–322 BCE), whose views had congealed into a rigid orthodoxy
during the Middle Ages. When Galileo arrived at the University of Pisa, he
necessarily entered into a world of Aristotelian belief grounded in a set of
maxims and understandings that philosophers dogmatically embraced.
Aristotelians believed that everything that existed in the world and the
heavens was already known. The task of philosophers was to explain why
those known things appeared to us the way they do and why they exhibit
the behavior and actions we observe. Their explanations came not from experimentation, but from a set of already established principles. For example,
heavy objects fall because they seek their “natural” place on the earth, while
light objects such as air and fire rise.
CHAPTER OUTLINE
Galileo
143
A Scientific
Revolution?
151
“Enlightenment”:
From the Natural
World to the Study of
Humankind 160
Conclusion: The
Accomplishments of the
Enlightenment 188
In distinguishing between things that fall and things that rise, Aristotle identified four elements: earth, water, air, and fire. The first two possess “gravity,”
which explains why they fall when displaced above their natural location,
and the latter two possess “levity,” which explains why they ascend when unnaturally situated on the ground.
Aristotle based the existence and properties of these elements on the idea that
the earth occupies the center of the universe. Heavy objects fall toward that
center and light ones rise away from it. Aristotelians knew that the earth occupied the center because contemplation of the heavens had shown that the sun,
143
144
CHAPTER 4
Science and Enlightenment, 1600–1789
moon, planets, and stars—all perfect spheres—moved at regular, predictable speeds
around it and always in a perfect circular motion. These heavenly objects, Aristotle
reasoned, had to differ, in their essence, from earthly phenomena, which were often
irregular, unpredictable, and ephemeral. What loomed above the earth could not,
therefore, be composed of any of the four terrestrial elements. Instead, heavenly
bodies were all made of a single element, which Aristotle called “aether,” a substance
that produced neither gravity nor levity but rather perpetual circular motion. Because
the motion of the heavens seemed so perfectly regular, Aristotle believed that nothing
about them ever changed. That is, there could be no planets, moons, or stars beyond
those that already existed, which meant those that appeared to the naked eye.
These Aristotelian ideas dominated the European universities of Galileo’s time to such
an extent that it was difficult to think outside of them. But even as a student, the young
Galileo realized that certain of these ancient ideas did not pass muster. He noticed, for
example, that hailstones of very different sizes hit the ground at the same time, and
thus disputed Aristotle’s widely
accepted notion that the bigger
and heavier an object, the faster
it fell.
How Galileo Measured Acceleration. Galileo observed that all unimpeded
falling bodies accelerated at the same rate, but to measure that acceleration
he had to slow the falling objects down. He did so by placing a ball on a gently
sloping plane and timing its movement with a pendulum. He demonstrated that
the speed of an accelerating body increases in direct relation to time and that
the distance it travels increases in relation to time squared.
The observation of hailstones
constituted a rudimentary empirical test, an effort to see what
happened in the natural world.
The next step was to make precise measurements of natural
phenomena. Philosophers had
known since the fourteenth
century that bodies accelerate
as they fall, and Galileo hoped
to find a mathematical formula
that would express this acceleration by using empirical
techniques. His method was
ingenious: he figured out how
to slow movement enough to
make it measurable. He placed
Timeline
1600
1620
1640
1660
1680
1700
1720
1740
1760
1780
1800
1610 Galileo’s Starry Messenger
1632 Galileo’s Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief Systems of the World—Ptolemaic and Copernican
1637 René Descartes’ Discourse on Method
1651 Thomas Hobbes’ The Leviathan
1660 Royal Society of London founded
1687 Isaac Newton’s Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy
1689 John Locke’s Second Treatise on Government
     
1739 Sophia’s Woman Not Inferior to Man
1
740–1786 Reign of Frederick the Great of
Prussia
1
748 Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws
1
751–1772 Publication of Encyclopedia
1
757 David Hume’s Natural History of
Religion
1
759 Adam Smith’s The Theory of
Moral Sentiments and Voltaire’s Candide
1
762 Rousseau’s Emile: or On
Education and The Social Contract
1
762–1796 Reign of Catherine
the Great of Russia
1
763–1783 Publication of
Macaulay’s History of England
1
776 Adam Smith’s The
Wealth of Nations
1
779 David Hume’s
Dialogues Concerning Natural
Religion
1
780–1790 Reign of
Joseph II of Austria
1
787 Mary
Wollstonecraft’s Thoughts
on the Education of
Daughters
1
791 Olympe de Gouges’
“The Declaration of the
Rights of Woman and the
Female Citizen”
1
792 Wollstonecraft’s A
Vindication of the Rights
of Woman
146
CHAPTER 4
Science and Enlightenment, 1600–1789
a ball on a gently sloping plane and marked its positions at intervals of about a
half-second, timed by a pendulum. This experiment demonstrated that speed increases in direct relation to time and that distance increases in relation to time
squared. That is, in ten seconds, the ball’s speed will have increased by a factor of
10 and it will have moved 100 units of distance (Galileo used millimeters). When
he tried planes with different angles of incline, he obtained the same result, thus
confirming the original test.
From this experiment, Galileo extrapolated, correctly, to all falling bodies: the
distance fallen would always be the square of the time elapsed and speed would
increase in direct relation to time. Galileo had derived a mathematical rule from
an experimental procedure, a process at odds with traditional Greek views that
divorced mathematics, supposedly a realm of abstract perfection, from the operations of the material world.
In experimenting with descending objects, Galileo broke with Aristotelian orthodoxy not only by using an empirical method but also by asking a non-Aristotelian question. He wanted to know not why things fall, the question Aristotelians
had asked and answered—falsely in Galileo’s view—but rather how fast. Galileo’s
question was mathematical, rather than philosophical; its answer provided useful
information about the world.
Galileo proved to be a brilliant mathematician, and even without earning an academic degree, he was appointed professor of mathematics at the prestigious
University of Pisa in 1589. While teaching there, Galileo became interested in tides,
and that interest pointed him to the heavens and the study of astronomy, a field in
which Aristotelian philosophers had established a set of clear-cut, unalterable truths.
Two letters of 1597 suggest that, by that date, Galileo had come to believe that
the apparent movement of the moon, planets, sun, and stars made sense only
when understood from the startlingly new perspective of Nicolaus Copernicus
(1473–1543). A Polish cleric and astronomer, Copernicus believed that the sun,
not the earth, occupied the center of our planetary system and that the earth, like
the other planets, revolved around the sun. Copernicus’s views were radical, even
blasphemous, and although the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe (1546–1601)
­advanced a compromise between the Aristotelian and Copernican understandings of the planetary system, Galileo—like his contemporary, Johannes Kepler
(1571–1630)—believed Copernicus was right.
Science and Enlightenment, 1600–1789
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147
Aristotle versus Copernicus. Aristotle posited a universe with a stationary earth at its center surrounded by a moon
and planets that circled it in fixed orbits (left). The stars were plastered, immobile, onto the heavens. Copernicus, by
contrast, placed the sun at the center of a solar system whose planets, including the earth, revolved around it in circular
orbits (right).
Copernicus did not possess the scientific instruments needed to prove that
the planets revolved around the sun; he simply advanced a hypothesis to this
effect based on the observations of planetary movements that he and other
astronomers had made. But Tycho imagined a more complicated version of the
traditional geocentric (earth-centered) heavenly map in which every planet
but the earth revolved around the sun, which then dragged all five planets with
it in orbit around an immobile earth. Tycho backed his view with a series of
measurements made with instruments he had created, but his model seemed
needlessly cumbersome. In addition, as Kepler demonstrated, Tycho’s model
could not account for the fact that Mars, in particular, appeared to move at
varying speeds.
For Kepler, the data showed that not only did all the planets, including earth, have
to revolve around the sun, but the very planetary speeds and trajectories Tycho
had documented meant that the shape of each planet’s orbit had to be an ellipse
(oval). In correctly substituting an elliptical orbit for the circular ones taken for
granted for more than two thousand years—including in Copernicus’s heliocentric
148
CHAPTER 4
Science and Enlightenment, 1600–1789
(sun-centered) model—Kepler made
almost as much a break with the past
as had his Polish predecessor. Even
more important, Kepler anticipated
Isaac Newton in suggesting that planets moved not of their own volition,
as Aristotle had thought, but because
they were pulled by a magnetic force
emanating from the sun.
Satum
Jupiter
Venus
Mars
Sun
Earth
Mercury
Tycho Brahe versus Kepler. Tycho Brahe proposed a complex planetary
system in which every planet but the earth revolved around the sun,
which then dragged the five known planets with it around the earth
(top). Kepler showed that Tycho’s schema could not account for the
movement of Mars and that all planets, including the earth, revolved
around the sun in elliptical, rather than circular, orbits (bottom).
The elliptical orbit was for Galileo
yet another nail in the coffin of the
Aristotelian approach. In adopting
the Copernican system, as modified
by Kepler, Galileo disputed the very
structure of the Aristotelian universe—and with it, most of Aristotle’s
fundamental tenets. If, for example,
the earth was just one planet among
many, it could not be true that it consisted of “elements” entirely different
from the lone element—aether—that
comprised the sun, moon, planets
and stars. Logically, all these bodies
must be made of at least some of the
­materials found on earth. Similarly,
the mathematical principles of
motion that Galileo discovered must
apply everywhere, not solely to our
own planet.
When Galileo made these arguments at the beginning of the seventeenth century, he possessed no empirical proof that Copernicus and Kepler were right.
In fact, to most people their ideas seemed patently absurd. Everyone knew from
daily experience that the earth stood still; otherwise, you would be able to feel
its…
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