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Bartolomé de Las Casas.. Immanuel Kant, “What Is Enlightenment?” Response Essay

This reading is an account of the discovery of the Americas by Spanish Christians. It tells of the devastation of the many islands around Hispaniola and the mainland of what is now North America for forty-nine years. On the Spaniards arrival the Natives did no harm to them and believed them to be descended from the heavens. That was until the Spanish began to murder and torment them due to their greed for what the Natives had. The choices of converting to the Christian religion or dying were the Native’s only options and anyone showing any sign of resistance were killed.

An estimated 12 million Native American souls were lost during those forty-nine years due to the devastation. The motives behind the Spanish’s taking over of the land was supposed to be religious but the killings, violence and theft showed no sign of religion at all. It was all about greed and the Native American’s were treated extremely unfairly. The Spaniards greed kept them from treating the Natives as anything more than beasts. It also makes me wonder how they would have treated the Chinese or Asians, since that is what they were originally looking for on their voyage west.

Reading: 18-5 Immanuel Kant, “What Is Enlightenment? ” This reading is an essay by Immanuel Kant going into detail about the lack of enlightenment, explain what enlightenment is and what the public needs in order to be enlightened. Kant explains what dependency is and how it is hard for someone to work themselves out of it and that enlightenment is a person’s emergence from their own dependency. He says that the public can only achieve enlightenment slowly.

Freedom is required for enlightenment according to Kant, the freedom to use our own reason on issues. I think that this essay has a powerful message. Kant explains how important it is for individuals to be independent and free in order for the public as a whole to be enlightened. It would seem that these things are common sense to people, because they really are simple and things that we here every day but I have never really thought of it the way Kant explains it. Kant’s words are sort of a guide to what people should strive for in life.


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