The Intellectual Father of Clown World II

Another round of Kant v Day. While people speak frequently about Enlightenment values, they very seldom reference, or presumably, even know, what Enlightenment actually means. Kant, one of the widely recognized central figures of the Enlightenment, and certainly the most respected, defined it as follows:

Enlightenment is the human being’s emergence from his self-incurred minority. Minority is inability to make use of one’s own understanding without direction from another. This minority is self-incurred when its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude! [dare to be wise] Have courage to make use of your own understanding! is thus the motto of enlightenment.

The first thing to note here is that Kant is clearly speaking in rhetoric here. This is not dialectic. Except for being directly cribbed from Aristotle’s objective distinction of the master and the natural slave, there is no genuine information content in this subjective distinction. This is exhortational manipulation designed to appeal to the reader’s emotions, as is the next section.

It is because of laziness and cowardice that so great a part of humankind, after nature has long since emancipated them from other people’s direction (naturaliter maiorennes), nevertheless gladly remains minors for life, and that it becomes so easy for others to set themselves up as their guardians. It is so comfortable to be a minor! If I have a book that understands for me, a spiritual advisor who has a conscience for me, a doctor who decides upon a regimen for me, and so forth, I need not trouble myself at all. I need not think, if only I can pay; others will readily undertake the irksome business for me. That by far the greatest part of humankind (including the entire fair sex) should hold the step toward majority to be not only troublesome but also highly dangerous will soon be seen to by those guardians who have kindly taken it upon themselves to supervise them; after they have made their domesticated animals dumb and carefully prevented these placid creatures from daring to take a single step without the walking cart in which they have confined them, they then show them the danger that threatens them if they try to walk alone. Now this danger is not in fact so great, for by a few falls they would eventually learn to walk; but an example of this kind makes them timid and usually frightens them away from any further attempt.

Kant has barely, and unsatisfactorily, addressed the What before immediately pivoting to the Why. This is characteristic of a sophistical deceiver, or at least someone who wants to avoid discussing the substance of a matter. Again, the entire paragraph is mere rhetoric devoid of any substantive information. You don’t want to be a coward, do you, anon? You don’t want people to think you are lazy, or a child, right, anon? So grow up! Think for yourself! Be enlightened! Definitely don’t pay any attention to those old books, those old priests, or any of the knowledge painstakingly acknowledged by your predecessors over the millennia!

Surely your massive Smart Boy brain will more than suffice to provide you with anything you actually need to know! Be brave enough to emerge from the childhood in which all those stupid jocks and pretty girls who rejected you dwell, and make use of your own understanding, whatever that may happen to be, without direction from anyone or anything else!

We’ve heard this before. This is Zero History combined with Thelema. This is literally the philosophical foundation for both the Khmer Rouge and the French Revolution justified on the basis of “do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”.

The more one reads Kant, the more readily one grasps how his midwit philosophy is little more than the delusions of an angry Gamma seeking to justify his subjective sense of personal superiority in a world that objectively views him as inferior.