Selfish or Enlightened?

In answering what “enlightenment” is, Kant claims that it is to think for and only for yourself and for no one else. In order to be “enlightened”, one must only consider their own feelings and disregard the feelings of others. For example, if someone were to make a large decision that would impact not only themselves but others around them, they should disregard everyone else and only think about what the impact will be on themself. This is interesting as most would see this as selfish or inconsiderate while Kant finds this to be freeing. This begs the question: Is thinking solely for oneself a selfish act or self-enlightening?

This philosophy can be seen today as birth rates are steadily declining and one of the major reasons for the decline is due to the cost and time of raising a child increasing. This has led to many would-be parents to choose not to have a child as it not only saves them a ton of time, but money and stress as well. The cost of raising a child has increased over the years as the cost of living and health insurance steadily increases while support systems such as parental leave continues to decline. However, many parents desire grandchildren for personal reasons and also to continue the lineage. If one refuses to have a child for financial and freedom reasons, would it be an act of selfishness to their parents or enlightenment to themselves?

2 thoughts on “Selfish or Enlightened?

  1. Hello Jacky, I find your post interesting because it really brings up the core values of Kant. I think that this is very relevant today because people are continuously fighting for equal rights. Having children or not, and the ability to choose is a massive enlightened thought for people. It seems to demonstrate the difference between an older culture, where people want to continuously have children, and a newer culture, where people do not follow the expectations to have them. I think having the realization that a parent may not want a child for whatever reason is very self-enlightening in the fact that they can admit to themselves that they do not want to follow social pressure and have a child if they do not want the child themselves.

  2. Hello Jacky. I think the topic of people feeling pressured to have kids is a very interesting one. I believe that it has to do with bodily autonomy and how much we value it. How much choice control should a person have over their own body even when there is perceived harm to others or society? Most would agree that people should be vaccinated and in fact, many institutions such as universities require vaccinations for attendance. This is a case where societal good overrules an individual’s bodily autonomy. But there is debate when it comes to issues such as the example you brought up or abortions. many people have different opinions on the matter and exploring where the line lies is very interesting.

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