What is Enlightenment (and what's in it for me)?



Publication Details

Gallagher, S. (2016). What is Enlightenment (and what's in it for me)?. Journal of Consciousness Studies: controversies in science and the humanities, 23 (1-2), 94-104.

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Imprint Academic


I start with Kant's (1784) famous answer to the question: What is enlightenment? 'Enlightenment (Äufklarung) is man's release from his self-incurred immaturity.' I consider what this means in regard to the self in the context of the Western European conception of the Enlightenment, with reference to Foucault's essay by the same title, and to Habermas's commentary on it. As is well known, there is a dark side to the idea of the enlightenment, for the self and for the other. I then review the possibilities of a different understanding of enlightenment (being enlightened) as represented in the target papers of this issue.

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