I hope my peers will indulge my foray into this troublesome notion. “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity.” This statement begs the question, “What is immaturity?” I believe Kant’s answer to this question is that immaturity is the lack of independent thought. We can only mature once we allow are minds to be autonomous, without the constraint of societal constructs which ‘think’ for us. This further begs the question, “What is considered independent thought? How do you define free thinkers? For example, did Kant solely form his ideas via autonomy. Sure, he challenges ideas; however, how could he establish his own ideas independently of other ideas? As a scholar, Kant was influenced by other, earlier scholars. By Kant’s standard, would this not be considered immaturity?
Another problem I have is the notion that by publishing his ideas, he is attempting to do the very thing with which he’s disagreeing. In an attempt to influence others, he is attempting to the think for others. If I were to accept Kant’s ideas as my own, then I am immature–not thinking for myself. The real irony lies in the scholars influenced by Kant. How can these ‘free-thinkers” be ‘free-thinkers’ when they’re basing their own ideas off of Kant? It doesn’t make sense. Follow these steps. Someone tells me I should think for myself; therefore, I will. Do you understand now? If someone tells you to think for yourself, it is impossible to truly do so.
The only way a person can achieve true autonomy is through ignorance. If one does not know, then he can think for himself. One cannot be a scholar and a free-thinker. Maximum independence can only be a product of maximum ignorance. Only if a person has no prior access to other ideas can he be a free-thinker.
And there class is my best Immanuel Kant impression. I thought for myself, challenged ideas which were not mine, and now, I am asking you to accept my ideas as if they were your own.