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According to Kant, if everyone were enlightened and used their ability to independently reason publicly then we would not have freedom restrictions. I disagree with this. Everyone would still have different beliefs and would want things to go their way, there will always be conflict, even among the enlightened. Therefore, there will always need to be rules that benefit the greater good. Rules are restrictions of ultimate freedom and they are necessary. They do however lead to suppression of free thought.
Like Kant, I believe that if everyone were encouraged to use their reasoning publicly that there would be more free thought. Free thought and free speech is known to be allowed here in the US, but it is not always encouraged. Kant emphasizes this, he points out that people in authority do not want you to argue with them, they want you to obey. They don’t want you to question anything, they want you to believe them and obey them.
There are expectations of trust in the system and they silence the mind. These expectations are meant to quiet your suspicions of legitimacy or morality. Even in a country based on freedom ideals, the people restrict their own enlightenment, or free thought, by trusting the system without question. Many people are comfortable being sheep, but we are living in an age of enlightenment as Kant would say.
There are many activists groups that are challenging the system. But, they are striving towards their version of an enlightened society. These groups often strike controversy.
They want to change the rules or the norms in our society that some people are comfortable with. When there is a massive group acting for change, the new minority, the people that don’t want change, eventually quiets down and stop voicing their reasoning publicly. They are less encouraged to voice their view. This is a different form of free thought suppression; Not authority, but dominance. This is a huge influence on how people think. If something is overwhelmingly dominant a lot of people don’t see the point in speaking up. They may eventually conform to the dominant influence. This is in my opinion failed freedom of thought. When someone no longer feels that they have a voice that matters their motivation for free thought disappears, suddenly they just want to be accepted. They lose sight of their reasoning. This doesn’t happen to all people on the losing side but it certainly happens.
Unlike Kant, I don’t believe that an entire diverse society could ever be enlightened because of the eternal conflicts within it. Even if the society has freedom it wouldn’t work because individuals in themselves may be free thinkers but they manipulate and influence others to pursue their own cause or interest. The people that are followers exists in every society. I don’t think the majority of our society consists of free thinkers. Kant believed that if freedom of thought were allowed that the free people could all be enlightened but some people never reach that level of maturity.
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