Dissatisfied enlightenment: certain difficulties concerning the public use of one's reason

Deligiorgi, Katerina (1997) Dissatisfied enlightenment: certain difficulties concerning the public use of one's reason. Hegel Bulletin, 18 (1). 35 39-53. ISSN 0263-5232

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Abstract

“Have the courage to use your own understanding!”. Thus Kant explicates the motto of enlightenment, sapere aude, inviting perhaps the readers of the Berlinische Monatschrift to follow suit. “[B]e for yourselves what you all are in yourselves – reasonable”. Thus Hegel introduces the pure insight of enlightened Spirit which addresses its emancipatory call to every consciousness. The apprised readers of the Phenomenology would know to temper their enthusiasm. Those who manage to get that far without doubting the clarity and simplicity of the Wahlspruch of enlightenment, are likely to be dissappointed by Hegel's subsequent analysis, which is largely intended to test such convictions. At the very least, the determined Aufklärer will have to consider whether the normative confidence of ‘dare to know’ is premised on unqualified theoretical certainty, and whether this instruction does not have an altogether more sombre half in the uncertainties of enlightened practice, let alone the terrifying certainty of the guillotine. In the following, I will argue that Kant modifies his initial definition of enlightenment by emphasising the collective and discursive dimensions of the enlightening process, the “freedom to make public use of one's reason in all matters”. I will then argue that Hegel adopts a similar approach in the Phenomenology but evaluates differently the problems involved in establishing a public for reason and in assessing the rationality of this public and proposes a different model of public debate.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > Philosophy
Depositing User: Katerina Deligiorgi
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 19:22
Last Modified: 05 Jul 2019 11:08
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/20333
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