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German Melikhov, Alexey Melikhov (Kazan/Russia)#

The Enlightenment is Delayed. Can we Discuss “Maturity” outside of Kant's Understanding of Philosophizing?#

Kant's understanding of the Enlightenment is connected with the notion of “maturity of soul”. A “mature person”, first of all, has the courage to use his or her own mind, and he or she does not make other people decide things that should be decided by his or herself. Secondly, it's a person that does not fight with others, but fights with his or her own self. With their own laziness, cowardice and prejudices. Thirdly, a mature person has an ability to think critically (the position of a scholar that is not dependent on a social position given by education, a “public implementation of one's mind”). Finally, a mature person can set limits for themselves. He or she while doing something, presents not themselves, but “their craft” (a “private implementation of one's mind”). Therefore, Kant's understanding of the Enlightenment is connected with epistemological, ethical and social assumptions.

The most important epistemological assumption of Kant’s philosophy is the principle of transcendentalism. A person does not interact with the world itself. The world always appears to him or her in the forms defined by mind. All our knowledge is inseparable from the features of our thinking. The world (as a place of becoming mature) is the space of our thinking. Philosophical thinking (based on the principle of transcendentalism) has one feature that was perfectly described by Heraclitus: “Those who speak with understanding must hold fast to what is common to all as a city holds to its law, and even more strongly”. A mature or thinking person clings not to their own, private, momentary, but to common, to what can bear meaning for everybody and nobody (what is valuable in itself). Any rational person cannot ignore this kind of thinking. He or she seek an encounter with it. This kind of thinking places us into the world just by the very fact of thinking. Not because we think about the world, but because we just think (at least sometimes). How can such kind of thinking be delayed!? The philosophical thinking has the power of ethical imperative and serves as the foundation of every social connection.

Historicist M. Foucault refuses Kant’s transcendentalism. He understands the Enlightenment from the ethic-political point of view as a critical reflexive work with yourself (ethics, a self-transformation of an individual into a subject of a responsible action) and with your present (politics, what can be done today in order to implement the freedom of public usage of mind?). M. Foucault shifts the accents. He understands “common” as a historical notion and philosophical thinking as a tool. If thinking places us somewhere, it places us only in present, not into the unity of the world. People become mature by fighting with present because your present, your time is yourself.

Well. It is possible.

However, is it possible to talk about becoming mature without Kant’s transcendentalism? Can I be considered myself when I am presented only in the forms of my present? Maybe we delay the work of self-improvement when we devote ourselves to the fight with present even if it is our present? Maybe it demands the thing of another scale for a person to become mature: the world as a unity, not the passing present?