Contrasting Views of Enlightenment

Posted: August 6th, 2013

Contrasting Views of Enlightenment

Compare and contrast Immanuel Kant’s, Friedrich Nietzsche’s, and Michel Foucault’s interpretations of Enlightenment. How do the Three thinkers conceptualize Enlightenment with regards to subject formations?

Immanuel Kant in his 1784 essay in the Berlinische Monatsschrift (Berlin Monthly) was of the view that enlightenment amounts to the ability of people as individuals to emerge from self-incurred immaturity. Kant was of the view that immaturity or what he simply termed as “tutelage” was all due to man’s inability to make individual understanding without the presence of guidance form another. In addition, it is also self incurred if this immaturity of tutelage when it leads to occurrence of lies, not due to failure of understanding by an individual but to the lack of courage by an individual to use tit tutelage without any form of declaration or courage  to use this without direction from another.


In conclusion, the three writers provide exemplary views and theories on self and the eventual enlightenment. However, the three give different accounts of what constitutes to enlightenment. In essence, enlightenment comes out clearly as the achievement of self-independence enhancing the individual’s perception of the world as well as other matter, which could be simplistically termed as rational. Furthermore, the argument between the three individual could be termed as healthy for the enlightenment school of thought as their views enable individuals or society as well to question and form individual opinions about the world and numerous issues such as existence, politics and judgment of opinions.

(2,000 Words)

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