Age Enlightenment Essays

Age Enlightenment Essays-71
The use, therefore, which an appointed teacher makes of his reason before his congregation is merely private, because this congregation is only a domestic one (even if it be a large gathering); with respect to it, as a priest, he is not free, nor can he be free, because he carries out the orders of another.But as a scholar, whose writings speak to his public, the world, the clergyman in the public use of his reason enjoys an unlimited freedom to use his own reason to speak in his own person.Therefore, there are few who have succeeded by their own exercise of mind both in freeing themselves from incompetence and in achieving a steady pace.

But the right to make remarks on errors in the military service and to lay them before the public for judgment cannot equitably be refused him as a scholar.

The citizen cannot refuse to pay the taxes imposed on him; indeed, an impudent complaint at those levied on him can be punished as a scandal (as it could occasion general refractoriness).

Actually, however, this danger is not so great, for by falling a few times they would finally learn to walk alone.

But an example of this failure makes them timid and ordinarily frightens them away from all further trials.

Thus it is very difficult for any single individual to work himself out of the life under tutelage which has become almost his nature.

He has come to be fond of his state, and he is for the present really incapable of making use of his reason, for no one has ever let him try it out.

Statutes and formulas, those mechanical tools of the rational employment or rather misemployment of his natural gifts, are the fetters of an everlasting tutelage.

Whoever throws them off makes only an uncertain leap over the narrowest ditch because he is not accustomed to that kind of free motion.

For there will always be some independent thinkers, even among the established guardians of the great masses, who, after throwing off the yoke of tutelage from their own shoulders, will disseminate the spirit of the rational appreciation of both their own worth and every man's vocation for thinking for himself.

But be it noted that the public, which has first been brought under this yoke by their guardians, forces the guardians themselves to remain bound when it is incited to do so by some of the guardians who are themselves capable of some enlightenment -- so harmful is it to implant prejudices, for they later take vengeance on their cultivators or on their descendants.

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