Friday, February 25, 2011

For Credit: Writing Process, First Paper, Part II

Feel free to respond to this post with any questions you have about the paper that's due Monday--or to vent, commiserate, or seek advice.

Deadline:  Monday (2/28), start of class.  Posts before midnight on Saturday (2/26) will count towards Week 6; posts after midnight will count towards Week 7.

For Credit: Kant and the Public Sphere

From today's attendance questions:
We did not discuss...much...a king/ruler/monarch's role in people's enlightenment.  How can they give freedom to their people and still have them obey? 
Kant claims that a public that is free to reason publicly will enlighten itself.  Given the relatively free intellectual environment in contemporary America, is this statement correct?  Is freedom sufficient for enlightenment or it is a necessary condition that must be supplemented with other conditions?
We did not really discuss the issue of courage of "the minority" to change their way of thinking and to break away from the oppression that they experienced for so long.  it is interesting that Kant claims it is not due to lack of understanding but instead it is a "lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another."  Kant's whole idea is that the minority have been guided by others for so long that they don't know how to act on their own, even though they certainly have the power and intelligence to do so.  I am curious as to who these oppressors are that Kant is referring to.  

Deadline: Saturday (2/26), midnight.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

For Credit: Reason Publicly (sort of) Here!

Feel free to respond to this post if you have any reflections about Kant's "What Is Enlightenment?" that you didn't have a chance to say in class today.

Deadline: Friday (2/25), start of class.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

For Credit: Kant + the Spectators

After discussing the similarities and differences between Stephen Colbert's character and the author of the Spectator series, one can see how influential the opinions of mass produced literature can be on the public.

Immanuel Kant argues in "What Is Enlightenment?" That freedom is the key to liberty. Not only personal freedoms and economic freedoms, but more importantly the freedom to circulate ideas. He says that "The public use of one's reason must always be free, and it alone can bring about enlightenment among human beings."

With that said and Kant's beliefs about an enlightened world and with all of the opinions and such floating about in the blogosphere, newspapers, television and radio, discuss whether or not you believe that 2011 is an enlightened America.

Also, consider this video, and what Bob Dylan has to say about media and journalism being passed around and what it does to people who read it. Is Dylan on the same page as Kant hundreds of years apart, or are they legitimately worlds apart?

Deadline: Friday (2/25), start of class.

Monday, February 21, 2011

For Credit: "A Distinctly Conservative Document"?

An historian of the Enlightenment, Margaret C. Jacobs, writes of Kant's "What is Enlightenment": 
[M]any commentators have failed to notice that it is a distinctly conservative document.  Think for yourself, Kant seems to be saying, but cause no trouble.  Leave the state and its institutions alone; conform; think original thoughts after hours, in the privacy of your own home.  (The Enlightenment: A Brief History with Documents [New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2001], 202).
Jacob's interpretation is, as she acknowledges, not shared by "many commentators."  What she calls a "failure to notice" the document's conservatism may rather be a belief that the term "conservative" doesn't accurately gloss what Kant is saying in this essay. 

What do you think? 

Offer some text to support your views.

Deadline: Wednesday (2/23), start of class.

For Credit: Spectator Take-Aways?

In our study of the three Spectator essays, we have moved from sampling Enlightenment-era imaginative literature (poetry, plays, novels) to examining some expository prose that sits more closely at the heart of the European enlightenment.

What are your take-aways from the Spectator essays?  What do they add to the picture that you are building of the Enlightenment era?

Deadline: Wednesday (2/22), start of class.