Can Humans Obtain Enlightenment ??

I would define enlightenment as being able to think for yourself in order to determine what is true. I think a human can attain enlightenment. In order to do this one must define what they want to explore as true. To me to reach enlightenment is more a personally goal than one in society.  Immanuel Kant defines enlightenment as “man’s emergence from his self-imposed nonage. Nonage is the inability to use one’s own understanding without another’s guidance.” (Kant) He also says to “Have the courage to use your own understanding,” (Kant) I would agree with Immanuel Kant and the way he defines enlightenment. His definition contributes to my thinking of enlightenment and says that people should think for themselves and interpret information without someone else’s help.  He even goes to the extent of saying it “is therefore the motto of the enlightenment.”(Kant).

La Mettrie says “For a wise man, it is not enough to study nature and the truth; he must be willing to proclaim it for the benefit of the few who are willing and able to think. As for the rest—the willing slaves of prejudice—they can’t reach the truth any more than frogs can fly” I think what he is saying here is that he believes that one should proclaim what they believe is true for others to use when shaping their own beliefs of what is true . His view contributes to mine in that he is saying to think for yourself, however he also says that you should tell what you believe is true to others so that they can form an opinion of their own. This I would disagree with because I think one should think for themself in order to determine what is true. I think he is also saying that only those “few who are willing and able to think” can reach enlightenment and the others cannot. This I do agree with because you have to be “Willing” and “Able” to think for yourself in order to find out what is true.

Descartes had the notion to go back to all the things that he believed were true because of past influences and teachings and try to demolish those thoughts, such as a juror might do if trying to convict someone to cause reasonable shadow of doubt.   He did this while alone one evening as somewhat of a self-evaluation.  During this time, he realized that “I can do this without showing that all my beliefs are false, which is probably more than I could ever manage.”   (Descartes 1)  Since I think it is improbable to reach enlightenment though your senses, just as Descartes indicates, by doing this you can be deceived.   He further states “it is unwise to trust those who have deceived us even once.”  By doing this, he causes this doubt to enter in so that he can try to get a better understanding of his thought process on the matter.  I think he supports my opinion to because he knows that some things have been deceptive in their presentation to him, however he is wise enough to know that logically many things do make sense and are things that someone who is rationale would have accepted.  It is for this reason he further states that he is a believer and that “I have for many years been sure that there is an all-powerful God who made me to be the sort of creature that I am.”  (Descartes 2)  I also believe that by doing this, Descartes has established his true identity on enlightenment and although he realizes, just as I do, that it easier to accept some very deeply rooted thoughts and ideas, the opposite of this and the stark realization that you would need to deny that any of these things were true would not support the thought that “It is as though they had a right to a place in my belief system as a result of long occupation and the law of custom.  These habitual opinions of mine are indeed highly probable; although they are in a sense doubtful, as I have shown, it is more reasonable to believe than to deny them” (Descartes 2).

Locke says “Whilst they are very young, any carelessness is to be borne with in children, that carries not with it the marks of pride or ill nature” (Locke) Meaning that children cannot obtain enlightenment because the Carelessness they are born with holds them back. They haven’t developed enough to think for them self and they do rely on someone else’s guidance. They cannot determine what truth is and what is false they have to be told or influenced in some way.




One thought on “Can Humans Obtain Enlightenment ??

  1. Nice response to most of the major points we’ve covered so far in class. Most people have been picking Kant as the model for their view of enlightenment, but isn’t that in itself a failure to strive towards enlightenment? You place emphasis on truth as the goal for enlightenment, but is there even an objective truth towards which to strive? Is accepting the Kantian vision of enlightenment self-defeating, or is there a universal truth to his words that cannot be refuted? Who knows, i certainly can’t answer that question, and we may never be able to.

    Regardless, everything we asked for was covered and you did a great job with it.


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