Kant’s philosophy that enlightenment is intricately connected to freedom to reason and courage to present one’s ideas is a very interesting concept. In fact, he equates laziness and a lack of courage to “immaturity” that prevents one from being enlightened. In particular, he claims that this freedom is especially important when addressing society as a whole rather than a specific audience (public), as this can lead to the enlightenment of the public. However, he later claims that freedom for the private use of reason should be restricted because one must obey their superiors at their job as well as the laws of government, or else society itself would fall apart. So overall, freedom only applies when it furthers enlightenment (public use of reason) compared to when it hinders it (private use of reason). That being said, a ruler should embrace the freedom of reason and opinions of his or her subjects to further the enlightenment of humanity. I find his opinion understandable, but do not entirely agree because I believe in certain cases, revolution is quite necessary for the enlightenment Kant speaks of. For example, the American revolution that freed the United States from British control presented many of the values (including liberty) that, over time and refinement, progressed our society to the point it is at now.
Recently, the Kenyan president, Daniel Arap Moi, passed away. Some remembered him as a kind leader who helped kids pay school fees and cared about the common man. Others saw him as ruthless toward those who did not fall in line. The latter includes Reverend Timothy Njoya, a retired Presbyterian Church of East Africa Minister. He accounts how he argued with Moi’s policy of single party rule over democracy and protested on the streets. He also urged people toward civil disobedience to force the government to rectify the constitution. Violence ensued as he was beaten by President Moi’s men for his activism. One may believe that Kant would support Njoya’s actions since he preaches freedom. However, it is likely that Kant may not support Njoya’s actions as he also preaches civil disobedience and Kant believes people have a duty to obey the government even given freedom. How about you? Do you think freedom should be restricted when it comes to obeying the government?