What is Enlightenment

What is enlightenment, that’s a question many of want to figure out. Kant describes it as Man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. I’m sure that other people in the world in his time, before his time and after his time have probably describes it as something different. Kant’s enlightenment essay was written twenty-five years after Voltaire’s Candide was. So, how does the story of Candide and the goals in Kant’s Enlightenment essay verses what optimism is and how they go hand and hand?

Candide doesn’t really think for himself, he always listens to his co called friend, Dr. Pangloss. He for some reason only listen to what Pangloss has to say and just goes with it which isn’t good. People should really only listen to what oneself is saying and not what anyone one else is. Though you can listen to someone thoughts and ideas on a particular subject doesn’t mean that what they are saying is right or wrong or even better than your own. Eventually Pangloss is killed by being hanged.
Candide is being told throughout most of the story that they live in the best of all worlds possible by Pangloss, which is totally a lie, and i’m sure the readers of the story can tell. Reading more than about halfway through the book, we can see that Candide has given up his optimism when he looked at the negro slave.

Voltaire has the answer to optimism which is Candide. The knowledge discussed throughout the story is really the whole story by itself. Pangloss’ optimistic knowledge goes to say that we live in the “best of all possible worlds” quote appears in the first chapter of the story and sets up the main theme of the story, Pangloss’ logic really makes no sense at all. As the novel goes on this knowledge that he poses goes under some ugly attacks by the bad things that the characters come across again and again throughout their lives in the novel. It sets up the debate between those characters with the optimistic view and those who don’t pose that view.

Kant is trying to get us to learn how to think for ourselves and not by doing what others want us to do. He wants us to not be like Candide is and just listening to someone who’s not making any sense himself and probably and don’t even know what he is trying to get someone else to understand. Kant goes to describe that there are people, well men already in the world that are enlighten and then there are the ones that are listening to the ones that are already there. Kant goes on to say that, , it is difficult for any individual man to work himself out of the immaturity that has all but become his nature.

He has even become fond of this state and for the time being is actually incapable of using his own understanding, for no one has ever allowed him to attempt it(4). Though there are certain things that man must abide by like the law.
With Candide not being able to be enlightened due to the fact that he was listening to a man he thought was his friend, who had an optimistic view on life that most people didn’t understand the way he did. Pangloss thought he was doing right by telling Candide what he view was right but was ultimately brought him to his own demise. Life should be about one’s own thoughts and aspirations not someone else’s. Yes, doctors and pastors for example, are there to help us and give advice that we need to hear at times but one’s own judgement is the best to go by majority of the time. So, with Candide not being enlightened and Pangloss’s optimistic views all wrapped up together get readers to see how their own views are important in life.

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What Is Enlightenment. (2019, Nov 18). Retrieved September 28, 2021 , from

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