Jeffery W. Morton
ENG 236: World Literature II
19 January 2015General Purpose Outline
THESIS: Reason and values within the individual is far more important than reason and values within the community when compared.
I. Analysis of Immanuel Kant’s “What Is Enlightenment?”
a. Introduction of Immanuel Kant.
b. Major themes discussed within Kant’s writings.
c. Direct quotations from Kant’s text explained.
II. Analysis of Denis Diderot’s “The Encyclopedie?”
a. Introduction of Denis Diderot’s.
b. Major themes discussed within Diderot’s writings.
c. Direct quotations from Diderot’s text explained.
III. Comparative Analysis of Kant and Diderot’s writings.
a. How Kant and Diderot were similar.
b. How Kant and Diderot’s societies were similar.
c. Personal take on Kant and Diderot.
Reason and Values
Immanuel Kant and Denis Diderot were pioneers of the Enlightenment period. Kant’s “What is Enlightenment?” (105) and Diderot’s “The Encyclopedie” (113) was developed and written in ways to inform the public and shock them. There are enlightenment themes and concepts displayed throughout Kant and Diderot's writings. Although they are two different individuals from two different geographical locations the major themes of their writings are one in the same and are that of religion and politics. Within these two major themes both authors apply the core values of Enlightenment (reason, progress and question of tradition and/or authority) to make for an interesting read. The historical contexts (mainly political, social and cultural environment) that affected both of their writings was very similar because of the time/era that both authors wrote their works. During the Period of Enlightenment it was not common and unheard of for an individual to speak out against tradition and express their own thoughts and opinions. These two men were very brave individuals for their time. Through their separate communities Kant and Diderot analyze reason and the values of the individual and compare to reason and values of the community as a whole. Reason and values within the individual is far more important than reason and values within the community when compared.
Immanuel Kant was a philosopher who spent his entire life in Prussia and was regarded as one of the most influential thinkers in the Western tradition. Kant created and impact that philosophers still debate today. In Kant’s writings he displays enlightenment themes directly through stating his ideologies about religion and politics. Kant speaks mostly on two major issues in society or rather two major issues that he sees with society during his time which are politics (monarchal society) and religion. Kant was not fond of living within a monarchal society and believed that the people could think for themselves and use their own reason and develop their own values to live by. He also focused on the study of the values and ability of an individual within society to display reason. Kant’s ideologies on politics and religion were that of an enlightenment protagonists and revolve around humans simply applying reason or the ability of humans (as individuals) applying reason or rationale to life instead of falling inline so to speak with indigenous superstitions and traditions. "As things now stand, much is lacking which prevents men from being, or easily becoming, capable of correctly using their own reason in religious matters with assurance and freedom from outside direction." (Norton Anthology of World Literature, 108-109). In this quote Kant shows how he feels and states it in a way that almost mocks the situation which shows a sense of frustration with his community on the individual level. Kant spent much time trying to show the people of his time that it is extremely important for people within communities to start utilizing their own reason and to start developing their own values on the individual level which would inevitably change the