What is enlightenment?

Philosophy, Cavell reminds us, is education for adults, perhaps a set of varied apercu as we think of movies and theater and various texts that abide with us through the years, or various incidents from childhood that tickle or haunt or teach so many years later, and sometimes texts, like Thoreau’s, that probe both particular situations and human nature, human living, human history — simultaneously — waking us up.  Enlightenment that counts is awakening to a dawn we had shadowed (not just release from the tutelage of kings and priests and parents and schools — and the almighty dollar, among other questionable thirsts).

We never outgrow the demands of such enlightenment, and so must be educated again and again, whatever our census age.  As Cavell implies, philosophy is not that set of books on the shelf with their puzzles, and the raft of articles and books refuting and reinstating those theories and problems, but (or am I reading too much into his line?) the leading out of adults (even myself) into ever new awakening.

Just a bit ago awakened by these cadences:

{The} end [of education] is a noble unrest, an ever renewed awakening from the dead, a ceaseless questioning of the past for the interpretation of the future, an urging of the motions of life, which had better far be accelerated into fever, than retarded into lethargy.   

Thanks to George MacDonald, for the words, and to kellydeanjolley for passing them on. [see Quantum Est In Rebus Inane on blogroll.]


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