Immanuel Kant and Enlightenment Philosophy

Please consider the following discussion questions as you read Kant’s two essays, “What is Enlightenment?” and “Idea of a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan Point of View.”

  1. For Kant, what is the ultimate goal of the Enlightenment?
  2. Kant seems to think that a scholar speaks not to his town or his city or his country but to “the world” (p. 5, 10th line from the bottom, p. 6,4th line from the bottom). Is there a difficulty in this disjunction between an inquisitive and speculative “public life” that addresses “the world,” and a very orderly “private life” that addresses one’s immediate community?
  3. If one needs courage in order to be enlightened, how is that courage to be taught? (See opening paragraph of “What is Enlightenment?”) How is the “commitment of heart” (p. 23, 3rd line) to be taught?
  4. Note that Kant, in his discussion “the Arcadian shepherd’s life” (bottom, p. 15), rejects Rousseau’s notion of happiness. What for Kant is more important than happiness?  Or what for Kant is the definition of happiness?

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