Age Enlightenment Essays

Age Enlightenment Essays-48
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.That the guardian of the people (in spiritual things) should themselves be incompetent is an absurdity which amounts to the eternalization of absurdities.

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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.

Farther, new prejudices will serve as well as old ones to harness the great unthinking masses. I answer: The public use of one's reason must always be free, and it alone can bring about enlightenment among men.

Nothing is required for this enlightenment, however, except freedom, and indeed the most harmless among all the things to which this term can properly be applied. The private use of reason, on the other hand, may often be very narrowly restricted without particularly hindering the progress of enlightenment.

It is the freedom to make public use of one's reason at every point. 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.


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