upspiral

If you measure Rousseau against the definition of enlightenment that was popular at his time, he would not appear to be enlightened. The “enlightened” of his time believed education in the arts and sciences would lead to equality and freedom. However, if you measure him against Immanuel Kant’s definition, it is obvious that Rousseau was enlightened.

Immanuel Kant’s definition of enlightenment is as follows:

Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another. This immaturity is self-incurred if its cause is not lack of understanding, but lack of resolution and courage to use it without the guidance of another. The motto of enlightenment is therefore: Sapere aude! Have courage to use your own understanding!” (An Answer to the Question: “What is Enlightenment?” Immanuel Kant, 1784)

Kant’s definition means that an enlightened individual would…

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