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11. Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), ‘Dare to Know’, from What is Enlightenment?, 178418

Here the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, writes his famous answer to the question set by a Berlin journal: ‘What is Enlightenment?’ He begins by quoting the Latin poet Horace, ‘Sapere aude’: Dare to know!19

What is Enlightenment? It is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s own understanding without guidance from someone else. This immaturity is self-imposed if its cause lies not in any lack of understanding but in indecision and in the lack of courage to use one’s own mind without the help of someone else. Sapere aude! Have the courage to use your own understanding is therefore the motto of the Enlightenment.

Read the free original text online (facsimile, with transcription):

18 Immanuel Kant, ‘Beantwortung der Frage: Was ist Aufklärung?’, Berlinische Monatsschrift, XII, 1784, pp. 481-494.

19 Portrait of Immanuel Kant by unknown artist: