What is Enlightenment? Outline

I.  Kant's text: entry into history of thought of question of modern philosophy
       A. German/Jewish destiny (Mendelssohn)
       B. Uniqueness of Kant's formulation
            1.  Past formulations
                a. Present belongs to an specific era of the world (Statesman)
                b. Present contains signs of future event (Augustine)
                c. Transition to new world (Vico)
            2.  Kant's formulation: negativity, exit, historical difference
       C. Textual analysis
            1.  Exit as release from immaturity (= acceptance of other's authority in place of reason)
                a. Examples:
                   (1) book/understanding (theory/cognition/C Pure R)
                   (2) spiritual director/conscience (practice/morality/C Practical R)
                   (3) doctor/diet (organismic nature/C Judgment)
                b. Enlightenment modifies pre-existing relations of will, authority, use of reason
            2.  Ambiguity of Kantís presentation (collective process and individual task/obligation)
            3.  Kant's use of 'mankind': (entire race or the 'humanity' of 'mankind'?)
                a. Two conditions of escape: at once spiritual/ethical and institutional/political
                   (1) realms of obedience and reason must be distinguished
                   (2) public (free) vs. private (submissive) uses of reason
                       (a) 'private' = person as cog in machine
                       (b) 'public' = member of 'commonwealth of reason' / 'republic of letters'
                b. Enlightenment = superimposition of universal, free, public uses of reason
            4.  Enlightenment as political problem: How to assure freedom of public use of reason?
                a. Age of Frederick
                b. 'Contract of rational despotism with free reason'
       D. Kís essay as 'crossroads' of the three Critiques and the history writings
       E. Uniqueness of K's essay once again: reflection on 'today' as difference in history

II. The attitude of modernity (rather than as epoch)
       A. Exemplified by Baudelaire
            1.  Ironic heroization: B's attitude to modernity as consciousness of discontinuity of time
            2.  Transfiguring play with reality (contra the flâneur)
            3.  Indispensable asceticism: taking oneself as object of complex and difficult elaboration
            4.  Art as the locus of B's practice
       B. Characterized by Foucault:
            1.  Negatively
                a. Refusal of 'blackmail of the Enlightenment'
                   (1) F's acknowledgment of importance of Enlightenment
                   (2) Such acknowledgment does not entail being 'for or against' Enlightenment
                   (3) Rather, we need to analyze ourselves as conditioned by the Enlightenment
                       (a) not the Habermasian reconstruction and preservation of 'essential kernel'
                       (b) but analysis of 'contemporary limits of the necessary' for our self-constitution as autonomous subjects
                b. Should not confuse humanism and Enlightenment
                   (1) Enlightenment as specific event in conjunction w/ historical processes
                   (2) Humanism as reappearing theme: too diverse to serve as basis of analysis
            2.  Positively: 'historical ontology of ourselves'
                a. Limit attitude: situating ourselves at the frontiers: (contra Kant at each point)
                   (1) what is singular, contingent, arbitrary in allegedly universal, necessary, obligatory?
                   (2) practical critique taking form of possible transgression
                   (3) historical investigation of events by which we constitute ourselves as subjects
                       (a) genealogical in design
                       (b) archaeological in method
                   (4) give new impetus to 'undefined work of freedom'
                b. Experimentation vs programming (contra 'global radicality' of Nazis/Stalinists)
                   (1) must open a realm of historical inquiry
                   (2) must test contemporary reality
                       (a) to find change points
                       (b) and determine form of such change [asking too much?]
                   (3) F's preference for New Left cultural struggles
                   (4) Philosophical ethos = test of limits we can surpass; work on ourselves as free
                c. Objection: such partial localism risks being determined by general structures
                   (1) No precise universal knowledge [connaissance] of our own historical limits
                   (2) But this doesnít necessarily entail disorder and contingency
                       (a) Stakes: paradox of relations of capacity and power [question of education]
                       (b) Homogeneity: study of practical systems;
                           i)  technological: forms of rationality of practice
                           ii) strategic: freedom of action w/in such systems
                       (c) Systematicity: three areas of investigating subject-constitution
                           i)  control over things: knowledge [savoir]
                           ii) action upon others: power
                            iii) relations w/ oneself: ethics
                       (d) Generality: [but not continuity or formality]
                           i)  recurrence of these issues in Western culture
                           ii) investigated as problematicizations

III. Summary: conclusion and return to Kant
       A. Doubt whether we will reach Kantian 'maturity'
       B. But we can give a meaning [sens] to K's essay
            1.  Critical ontology of ourselves as ethos, philosophical life
                a. Historical analysis of imposed limits
                b. Experiments with going beyond
            2.  Translation of this ethos into coherent 'labor of diverse inquiries'
                a. Methodological: arch and gen analysis of practices as technological and strategic
                b. Theoretical: defining unique forms of relations to things, others, ourselves
                c. Practical: careful test of reflection in concrete practices
            3.  This may not mean 'faith' in Enlightenment, but it does mean
                a. work on limits
                b. That is, 'patient labor giving form to our impatience for liberty'