The Enlightenment: has the light gone out?

Immanuel KantOn Tuesday 2o January at 7:00PM in Hallmark Hotel Derby, Midland Road, DE1 2SQ Derby, the East Midlands Salon is hosting a discussion entitled ‘The Enlightenment: has the light gone out?’

Sapere aude! – ‘Dare to know!’ or ‘Have the courage to use your own reason!’ was what the philosopher Immanuel Kant chose as the motto of the Enlightenment. In his famous essay ‘What is Enlightenment?’ (1784) he wrote:

‘…enlightenment requires nothing but freedom–and the most innocent of all that may be called “freedom”: freedom to make public use of one’s reason in all matters. Now I hear the cry from all sides: “Do not argue!” The officer says: “Do not argue–drill!” The tax collector: “Do not argue–pay!” The pastor: “Do not argue–believe!” Only one ruler in the world says: “Argue as much as you please, but obey!” We find restrictions on freedom everywhere. But which restriction is harmful to enlightenment? Which restriction is innocent, and which advances enlightenment? I reply: the public use of one’s reason must be free at all times, and this alone can bring enlightenment to mankind’.

Today we might adopt what the philosopher Paul Boghossian called ‘Fear of Knowledge’ as the motto of our time when criticism, reason and individual judgement have been replaced by a culture of fear and caution in which you can only say what is generally thought to be acceptable, inoffensive and morally correct.

What has happened to the spirit of the Enlightenment? Has the light gone out or can we rebuild a new culture in which we can criticise everything?

Join us for the first Salon of 2015 when our discussion will be introduced by Professor Paul Elliot (University of Derby), an historian and an expert on the Enlightenment, and Dolan Cummings (associate fellow of the Institute of Ideas) many of whose writings, and in particular his edited book Debating Humanism, are a defence of the values of the Enlightenment. Chairing the debate will be Dr Vanessa Pupavac (University of Nottingham).

Tickets are available now through Eventbrite.

Suggested Readings

On-line articles

Immanuel Kant ‘What is Enlightenment?’ (1784)

Frank Furedi Towards Enlightenment (2007)


Paul Boghossian Fear of Knowledge (2006)

Dolan Cummings (Ed.) Debating Humanism (2005)

Paul Elliott Enlightenment, Modernity and Science (2010)

Time and Date: Please arrive in time to get yourself a drink for a 19.00 start (Ends 20.30), Tuesday 20 January 2015

Tickets: £5 (£3 Concessions) Book now through this The Enlightenment link.

Venue: Hallmark Hotel Derby, Midland Road, Derby DE1 2SQ.