“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” – Goethe
Posted by Jeff on July 28, 2008
OK, so anyone who knows me really well knows that I am a sucker for the Enlightenment. Reading about great minds such as Emanuel Kant, Denis Diderot, Joseph Priestly, Voltaire, John Locke, and even Benjamin Franklin just gets me all atwitter. Hell, I even have a tattoo of the words “Sapere Aude”, which is Latin for dare to know, on my chest! See the picture…
Ever since getting this I’ve had to explain to everyone what the hell it meant. And when I start talking about Kant and the Enlightenment peoples’ eyes glaze over. Oh well…
These days, especially in the US, there seems to be a very vocal anti-Enlightenment mentality dominating our culture. Intolerant religion and totalitarian government are making every effort to re-establish their places at the forefront of out society. Where ARE our philosophes? Who is around to challenge the dogmatism and anti-humanism that is trying to claw its way up from the depths?
I really love Dana’s view on this. Today’s philosophes are the bloggers, and the comments threads are their parlours. This really is a beautiful notion, and I really want to believe that it is so. My only concern, however, is whether it is enough? When everyone has the ability to publish their ideas to the world, then is the value or impact of those ideas diminished? I sure hope not. I’d like to believe that we are on the brink of a New Enlightenment instead of being on the brink of a New Dark Ages like I’ve often suspected.
It seems like for every person willing to take up Kant’s challenge to “Dare to use the power of [their] own understanding,” there are several people who wish to silence that person. Unfortunately, in this country, it’s the oppressors who hold most of the power.
Am i jaded? Cynical? I want to believe that a revolution is coming. Not a political revolution, but a revolution in the way people think and view the world. What would it take for us to re-claim our world?