enlightenment too – and the irony of historical un-reason

If you treat an individual as he is, he will remain how he is. But if you treat him as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

As wise as it is, it counteracts its own claim of reason and enlightenment: Why are individuals only men?

No, I don’t claim to be better as the master – we are children of our time, caught in the language of the time … – and criticising those times and words may evoke the hope that our own limitations and errors are less bold, less harming, less offending …

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2 Responses to “enlightenment too – and the irony of historical un-reason”
  1. Brigitte Kratzwald ha detto:

    There are a lot more questions to ask:
    e.g. who defines what an individual “ought to be”? And is this necessarily the same as he or she “could be” or even what he or she would like to be (not to be understood in a hedonistic way as what he or she would enjoy to do)?
    And which possibilities does he or she have to refuse to conform to what he or she “ought to be”?
    Treating somebody “as if he were what he ought to be” can be very empowering indeed, but it might also be a very effective instrument of hegemonic power.

    • williamthompsonucc ha detto:

      well, yes …, in general. Though Kant, having lived more or less the same time – and his spirit determining much of the Zeitgeist (as much as the time of enlightenment it had been the era of Sturm and Drang [indeed, no English for it: storm and stress surely is outlandish ;-)] favours the more optimist version (surely evoking the question then if optimism is inclined to be idealist and vice versa).

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