Comparing Kant On Enlightenment And Plato's Meno

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Marissa Terando FYS 101 Professor McGowan 16 December 2014 Kant’s “What is Enlightenment?” & Plato’s Meno Immanuel Kant, a German philosopher, and Plato, a Greek philosopher, each wrote an independent work separated by 2000 years. Kant wrote, “What is Enlightenment?”, an article detailing the approach a society must take to become enlightened. Plato wrote Meno, a dialogue between two people: Socrates and Meno, who attempt to determine the definition of virtue. Although the topics of the works seem to have no overlap, the ideas of Kant are reflected in Meno. I will begin my paper by summarizing the conversation and main ideas touched upon in the interview, Meno. Then, I will summarize Kant’s, “What is Enlightenment?” Next, I will develop reasoning as to why the “slave boy” is the most philosophically fit character in Meno. Finally, I will show that the “slave boy” is an outlier among the masses, therefore he exemplifies Immanuel Kant’s vision of an enlightened person. Meno begins by posing the question, “…is virtue the sort of thing you can teach someone?” (Holbo & Waring 1) Socrates is quick to say that he himself doesn’t know the answer nor has he ever encountered someone who does. Meno counters that statement by explaining,…show more content…
Humans crave some type of organization and guidance. Kant believes, “a lesser degree of civil freedom gives intellectual freedom enough room to expand to its fullest extent,” (6) therefore, the structure society provides allows people to reach a higher level of thinking. Respect for the body politic also aids man in his quest for knowledge. Government may “profit by treating man…in a manner appropriate to his dignity.” (7) There is a delicate balance between the essential structure that humans need and the freedom required to gain enlightenment. The solution man must find is the maturity to understand how to think freely within the confines of

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