Enlightenment - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Philosophy

This encyclopedia article consists of approximately 16 pages of information about Enlightenment.
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The History of the Concept

At the close of his 1784 essay in the Berlinische Monatsschrift in response to the question "What is enlightenment?" Immanuel Kant asked whether his might be characterized as an "enlightened age." He responded, "No, but it is an age of enlightenment" (p. 35). Kant's emphasis on enlightenment as an ongoing process, rather than as an achieved state, was typical of eighteenth-century usage, which favored such formulations as "century of philosophy" (Jean Le Rond d'Alembert), "age of critique" (Kant), or "age of reason" (Thomas Paine).

The question of what the process of enlightenment involved sparked an extended discussion in German journals during the 1780s, a discussion in which Kant's response would prove to be the most famous. The German aufklären—a word that had been used to designate a clearing of the weather and, metaphorically, a return to consciousness after a period of...

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This section contains 4,544 words
(approx. 16 pages at 300 words per page)
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Enlightenment from Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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