Michel Foucault has deeply studied the Theory of Enlightenment by Kant and Theory of Modernity popularized by Philosophers like Hegel, Nietzsche, Max weber, Horkheimer, Habermas. In all this, he has derived the practical approach towards practicing Enlightenment and modernity.
Theory of Enlightenment
17th century German Philosopher Immanuel Kant popularized the theory of ‘Enlightenment’ which became a subject of inquiry upon his critical reflection. Kant is known for bringing a transitional switch to society- from Ancient age to Modernity. He has inquired into the depths of Modern philosophy where very few had its reach. In all this process, Kant successfully revealed practical life goals of modern era.
Quick view of Kant’s Enlightenment:
Enlightenment is erasing immaturity out of human beings. Immaturity is defined as following other’s authority rather one’s conscience. The dropping up of authority is possible by using self-thought reasons.
“If I have a book to have understanding in place of me, a spiritual advisor to have a conscience for me, and a doctor to judge diet for me, and so I need not make any efforts at all.”Hence, laziness will turn natural.
Note: How the humanity would escape from these two groups, is the question a philosopher must examine?
Dogmatism -strongly adhering to one’s beliefs while strongly rejecting others
Heteronomy– the state or condition of being under domination
Kant has interpreted public and Private world differently. Kant’s interpretations of ‘public’ and ‘private’ is not simply related to personal experience, but it is social categorization.
The private is ‘cog in machine’, the job patterns that is standard and couldn’t be put down. Kant said that in private jobs, one is free to think but not free to act. In such cases, only one thing could keep harmony in system, i.e., “To Obey”.
Just like the duty of doctors, Army, fire-officers, civil-servants, and so on.
The public is the interactions in public domain, where one is capable of using the reasonable approach. Just like in market (bargaining of high price), Football court (asking for re-examining of scores), and food tables (ordering food you like to have), and so on.
For Foucault, Modernity is an attitude and not any period of history like pre-modern or post-modern.
To understand attitude of Modernity, Foucault has reflected upon the views of Baudelaire- a French poet, essayist and art critic (1821-1867).
Finding identity of self in enlightenment is a tension. Marxism, personalism, socialism, existentialism has tried to form their independent or unbiased connection with humanism. But in reality, the concepts are not completely autonomous but derived from socio-religious pressure.
Instead of finding limitations of a theory, one must look to analyze its practical criticism. Criticism is not about finding universal structures but to promote a historical investigation of the cause of our nature.
After going through two different interpretations of Enlightenment by Kant and Baudelaire, Foucault see it as an unbreaking relation to present. It is the permanent re-activation of attitude and permanent critique of historical era. It is leaving behind past, and accepting positivity, as one moves ahead in journey of life.
To conclude, Foucault believed that man’s relation to present, man’s historical mode of being, and the constitution of self as an autonomous subject is rooted in enlightenment.
Reference: What is Enlightenment? in Rabinow (P.), éd., The Foucault Reader, New York, Pantheon Books, 1984, pp. 32-50.
Cite source (MLA 8th edition)
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-analytics||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Analytics".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-functional||11 months||The cookie is set by GDPR cookie consent to record the user consent for the cookies in the category "Functional".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-necessary||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Necessary".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-others||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Other.|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-performance||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Performance".|