The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 7:13-23 (2000)
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Abstract

It can be little disputed that modern philosophy, as it is generally understood, stands under the broader tradition of the Enlightenment—and, for the most part, consciously and vigorously so! Despite the nuances and important distinctions of style and substance found in the great thinkers of this tradition, one can see clearly a general commitment to the fostering of the natural capacity of human beings to know their world and to interact with it and with other rational creatures in increasingly productive ways. Even if such figures were also critical of some of the tradition’s excesses, they were in an important sense united in their confidence in the successful use of those faculties that passed the critical test of reason. Certainly, Horaces’s words, “Sapere aude!” rang true throughout the modern period, as Kant insists in his essay, What is Enlightenment? Though Kant’s vigorously positive response might not have been fully affirmed in every detail by all Enlightenment philosophers, his central affirmation that humanity was moving from the age of its minority to that of its majority resonates throughout the thought of this era.

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Mark Gedney
Gordon College

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