Enlightenment means thinking for yourself

Mankind stands once more at a crossroad. We need to make some enlightened choices if we want to find teh right road to the future. That is the final thesis Ossi Urchs and I set out in our recently published book Digital Enlightenment Now! Now all that remains is to make it happen. Unfortunately, that’s the hard part…

Thesis 10: We need a Digital Enlightenment: New and original intellectual categories that will help us function as humans in a fundamentally changed world. This is vital if we are to reflect critically and productively about ourselves and our roles in a Digital Society.

Mankind has stood at similar crossroads before. In the 18th century, for instance, ossified social structures and economic shifts forced intellectuals in Europe to fundamentally rethink the rules by which society functions. Caught between the classical logics of antiquity and medieval scholasticism on the one hand, ever-widening cracks in the old order on the other, free thinkers were forced to reconsider the basic beliefs and to adapt to change. It was before this background that the German moral philosopher Immanual Kant penned his admonition: “To think for oneself at all times – that is enlightenment”. Today, the challenge remains the same.

BoD DENThe ten theses are at the center of our book, Digital Enlightenment Now!, that was recently published on BoD. I am reprinting them here as a mini-series to encourage debate among DEF members.

One thought on “Enlightenment means thinking for yourself

  1. laurencemillarnz March 21, 2015 / 12:08 pm

    Not only is thinking for oneself essential – it is also bloody hard work. It is just not possible to take everything back to first principles, so we are forced to rely on prior knowledge which is presented and nuanced through vested interests.

    I have found that paying attention to who proposes a particular idea is a valuable shortcut when there is not enough time to do the hard yards of thinking through issues in detail.


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