Anja Godo 20130844 16/9/2013 Kant vs.

Twain Revised At first when we look at the readings it seem like the authors are talking about the same state of mind form not thinking on your own to being enlightened. Kant talks about the transition while Twain explains the occurrences in nonage. Upon the deconstruction of both the excerpt and the short story the authors disagree in their main argument. Kant sees enlightenment as a possibility for everyone, “Enlightening is, Man‟s quitting the nonage occasioned by himself”; while Twain believes that because it is the nature of people to seek the approval of others they are willing to give up their believes in order to get that approval and therefore will end up conforming the ideas of others “[Man] wants to stand well with his friends […] wants to hear the precious words, „He‟s on the right track!‟ uttered, perhaps by an ass, but still an ass of high degree, an ass whose approval is gold and diamonds to the smaller ass, and confers […] membership to the herd. For these gauds many a man will dump his life-long principles into the street, and his conscience along with them”. Nevertheless there are arguments in which Kant and Twain agree although the supporting reasons for their arguments are different. For Kant “Laziness and cowardice are the causes, why so great a part of mankind, after nature has long freed them from the guidance of others (naturaliter majornneses), willingly remain minors as long as the live”, similarly, for Twain “It is our nature to conform; it is a force which not many can successfully resist”. Furthermore it is because of conformity that causes people to remain in the nonage for Kant and the reason for self approval for Twain. However this same conformity is used differently because for Kant it is done consciously “If I have a book which has understanding for me, a curate who has conscience for

me, a physician who judges of diet for me, etc. I need not give myself any trouble. I have no occasion to think, if I can but pay; others will save me the trouble of that irksome business”; because thinking is annoying and other can do it for me. Conversely, Twain thinks it is done unconsciously by the need to be a part of something “self approval is acquired mainly from the approval of other people. The result is conformity. Sometimes conformity has a sordid business interest –the bread and butter interest– but not in most cases, I think. I think that in the majority of cases it is unconscious and not calculated; that is born of the human being‟s natural ye arning to stand well with his fellows and have their inspiring approval and praise –a yearning which is commonly so strong and so insistent that it cannot be effectually resisted, and must have its way”. Moreover even those people who establish trends are looking for this self approval, “a person of vast consequence can introduce any kind of novelty in dress and the general world will presently adopt it –moved to do it in the first place, by the natural instinct to passively yield to that vague something recognized as authority, and in the second place by the human instinct to train with the multitude and have its approval.” As both arguments continue on their own, Kant talks about the dangers of having conformed as the “superintendents have first made them as stupid as their domestic animals, and carefully prevented those peaceable creatures from daring to venture a single step beyond the gocart, in which they are inclosed; they point out to them the danger that threatens them, if they should try to go alone. Indeed this danger is not so very great, for, at the expence of a few falls, they would learn to walk at last; but an example of this ort renders timid, and commonly discourages from all further attempts”. He continues his argument by saying how difficu lt it is for every man to leave the nonage because they are not used to thinking on their own but rather are used to using “mechanical instruments of rational use” which have been taught by others who

them themselves don‟t understand on their own. Furthermore they cannot leave the nonage by reason because “he is for the present actually incapable of using his own understanding, because he never was allowed to make the trial”; but if a man leaves the nonage although he will be uncertain in his step because he is not used to the freedom of thought and if enlightened men choose to help others get enlightened a revolution might be caused “but never a true reform to the cast of mind; new prejudices will serve, just as well as the old, for leading-stings to the thoughtless multitude.” Twain‟s argument develops differently, although he mentions the possibility of first hand opinions he believes that “an opinion which is coldly reasoned out in a man‟s head, by a searching analysis of the facts involved, with his heart unconsulted, and the jury room closed against outside influences. It may […] have been born somewhere, at sometime or other, but I suppose it got away before they could catch I and stuff it and put it in a museum” and how this possibility is more likely long gone leaving only public opinions which is thought to be “an aggregation which we consider a boon” when it really is the people that “do no end of feeling and we mistake it for thinking” and it is to his opinion that we conform to and it is this that validates trends; “We cannot invent standards that will stick; what we mistake for standards are only fashions and perishable […] the historical novel starts up suddenly, and sweeps the land. Everyone writes one, and the nation is glad. We had historical novels before; but nobody read them, and the rest of us conformed –without reasoning it out. We are conforming in the other way, now, because it is another case of everybody”. Furthermore he talks about the bias of cornpone opinions because a man will not think for himself but rather with the group he is part of and “they read its literature, but not that of the other side; they arrive at convictions, but they are drawn from a partial view of the matter in hand and are of no particular value” and because of

these convictions that were so wrongly concluded they will follow this group “whether for right and honor, or through blood and dirt and a mush of mutilated morals”. Kant concludes that there will always be a nonage because there will always be people that will choose to remain in the minority and that for whatever reason refuse to think for themselves and because in order to be enlightened you must think by yourself a quit the nonage. On the other hand Twain concludes that if personal and independent thought does exists, it does so with extreme rarity, and it is the majority of people that will follow the opinion others because they search for self approval and will be willing to give up their values to be a part of something more.