The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 7, 2000

Modern Philosophy

Henry E. Allison
Pages 35-44

Kant’s Conception of Enlightenment

Kant’s views on enlightenment are best known through his essay, “What is Enlightenment?” This is, however, merely the first of a series of reflections on the subject contained in the Kantian corpus. In what follows, I shall attempt to provide an overview of the Kantian conception of enlightenment. My major concern is to show that Kant had a complex and nuanced conception of enlightenment, one which is closely connected to some of his deepest philosophical commitments, and is as distinct from the views of his contemporaries, including Mendelssohn’s, as his critical philosophy is from the rationalism of Leibniz, Wolff, and Baumgarten.