Nous sommes Charlie

April 1, 2015

The German philosopher Kant is known as the precursor of criticism. Whose ideas were based on the age of the Enlightenment. A period that, according to him, severed us — humans — as a way to accomplish a higher level of intellect thanks to which men has been able to start inferring his conclusions regardless of imposed dogmas. Yet, currently, we are facing issues that can be compared to the ones Kant tried to solve. An example of it being the latest terrorist attack against the Parisian journal Charlie Hedbo.

The Enlightenment was an intellectual movement led by some intellectuals from the 18th Century, whose foundations were rooted in human rationality. Their goal was to liberate men from the chains of tradition, oppression and dogmatism, in order to allow us to grow into adulthood — intellectually speaking.

For Kant, who was deeply rooted in the ideals of his period as well as in rationalism and empiricism, rationality could only be achieved by following the ideals dictated during the age of Enlightenment. Influenced by other philosophers such as Descartes, Hume and Rousseau, Kant considered that rationality is our highest faculty. The only one that allows us to discriminate the truth — whose verdicts are submitted to religion, progress, moral, freedom and rights.

Consequently, the philosopher recognized the Enlightenment as the period when humans started to be autonomous, responsible and free, and where men transformed into an adult capable of inferring their own choices. According to Kant, ethics can only be achieved if men become autonomous, the fundamental norm of morality.

Currently, have men gone backwards? Have we come back to a period dominated by dogmatism and tradition, in which injustice prevails over rationality and autonomy? An example of this can be the terrorist attack that took place in Paris, against the satirical journal Charlie Hedbo. A group of people premeditatedly killed a group of illustrators and writers on behalf of their God. The slayers clearly decided to be guided by religious doctrines, instead of sticking to rationality, justice and ethics.

Consequently, it can be stated that the ethical ideals exposed by the German philosopher and his vision of men as children, are right. In most occasions, “infantilism” prevails over rationality, which clearly showcases the need to enhance our current morality by implementing Kant’s ideals. However, the philosopher did not rejected faith nor religious beliefs, but men who put those beliefs above rationality.