Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Be Literate: Kant, Socrates, and Exhortations to...Not be Stupid

Here's the literacy post! You'd benefit from reading the pieces, note on Socrates' Apology and Emmanuel Kant's What is Enlightenment. Oh, what fun it is to ride and think of the thoughts of the thinkers.

Kant and Socrates: Daring to Know

          Two philosophers, namely Kant and Socrates, had unified but variant ideas.  Kant was disgusted when people would not think for themselves and make their own decisions.  He stated that men (and the fairer sex) must discontinue being docile creatures harnessed to a cart and rather work themselves out of immaturity that had become their nature.  Kant believed that immaturity meant one not thinking for his or herself but expecting another to do the work for them, as in making decisions and solving problems.  In What is Enlightenment, Kant exhorts others to stop being immature and instead become mature.  He shows a sure method to go about becoming mature, inserting the words sapere aude, meaning “Dare to Know” or, “Think for Yourself.”  Instead of being led by the thoughts and opinions of others, Kant dares others to stop being immature and to know things for themselves.

          Socrates’ main ideas were apologetic, that is, defending against accusations, but he concernedly spoke more of the condition of others than of himself.  Though he was accused of corrupting the youth of Athens (in The Apology), he made it clear that he had only asked others to stop seeking fame, fortune, and wealth.  In that day and age, wealth and fame were important to citizens, especially after the Peloponnesian War, and when Socrates pleaded (or seemingly annoyed) people to stop searching for those temporal things and to seek the best state of the soul, he was thought a blithering idiot. However, Socrates did display ways people can go about searching for the best state of the soul, namely by conceptual analysis.  By analyzing concepts, Socrates was encouraging the people to think and judge for themselves.
          These two philosophers emphasized a central theme; since man possesses a mind, he should use it.  The ideas of Kant and Socrates, though slightly variant, were unified in that they knew there was something more to be had out of life than simply living.  While Kant exhorted people to discontinue their lazy immaturity and Socrates encouraged others to seek for the best state of the soul instead of wealth and fame, both men wanted their readers and listeners to think for themselves, analyze concepts, and most importantly, dare to know.

 Oh for the day I can talk about such subjects with people. Literally.

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