The Moral Inevitability of the Enlightenment and the Precariousness of the Moment

Review of Metaphysics 62 (2):285-306 (2008)
Abstract
Kant’s essay An answer to the question: What is Enlightenment? has developed into the representative text of philosophical Enlightenment in the course of the past two hundred years. Yet most interpretations tend to assign to it a univocal meaning that is incompatible with its apparent polysemy. While taking the latter into account, the author closely investigates Kant’s essay and offers a balanced interpretation of its meaning. On the basis of this reading, it becomes apparent that we should understand Kant’s idea of the enlightenment process in a normative sense. As a result, the emphasis in the text shifts from a historico-philosophical promise of an “Enlightened Age” to the view of a precarious, risky “Age of Enlightenment” which Kant claims to live in. There is ample textual evidence that Kant wanted to intervene with this essay by cherishing the hope for more enlightenment.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632  
DOI revmetaph200862294
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