13 Feb Anja Steinbauer

“Have the courage to use your own reason!”, (in Latin sapere aude!) is the battle cry of the Enlightenment. It was articulated by Immanuel Kant in his famous article ‘What is Enlightenment?’ (1784). Obstacles that can stand in our way in achieving ‘maturity’, i.e. thinking for ourselves, are manifold and have to do with: the self, politics and society, as well as culture. These are problems that concern academics as much as anyone else: In a letter to his sovereign Kant declared freely that he believed Rousseau to be correct in saying that rulers only tolerate those intellectuals who are happy to simply “adorn our chains with flowers” – as many do. The greatest difficulty lies in motivating people to shake off immaturity: “It is so easy not to be of age. If I have a book which understands for me, a pastor who has a conscience for me, a physician who decides my diet, and so forth, I need not trouble myself. I need not think, if only I can pay – others will easily undertake the irksome work for me.”