Archive for September 27th, 2021

Dare to Know, Redux

Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude!- ‘Have courage to use your own reason!’- that is the motto of enlightenment.

― Immanuel Kant,  What Is Enlightenment?

The painting shown here is one from several years back that made the rounds to the galleries and came back to me. This baffled me because it was and remains a favorite of mine, one that really burned itself deep into my memory. My own preference might be as much about the meaning I attach to it as its actual visual content. I see it as being a symbol for seeking and verifying truth on your own, without the overriding influence of any one person or group.

In this day and age, you might call this being anti-cult. I think of it more as being willing to know the truth of the matter even when it disappoints. Knowing the truth allows you to determine how to deal with it. That is a much more powerful position to move from.

Here’s the original post:

Sapere Aude!

From the Latin, meaning Dare to Know.

I came across the passage above from the 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant and felt immediately that it was a great match for this new painting. In fact I am calling this piece, 11′ by 15″ on paper,  Dare to Know (Sapere Aude!)

The Red Tree here is removed away from the influence and shading of the other trees and houses in the foreground, out of darkness and into the light. There is a light about the Red Tree and a sense of freedom in the openness of the space around it. It is free to examine the world, free to seek the knowledge it craves, and free to simply think for itself.

It’s a great idea, this concept of enlightenment and one that we definitely could use today. Too many of us form our own base of knowledge by relying on the thoughts and opinions of others, often without giving much consideration as to their truthfulness, motives, or origins. Or we shade our base of knowledge with our own desires for  how reality should appear, holding onto false beliefs that suit us even when they obviously contradict reality.

In short, there is no enlightenment based on falsehoods, no way to spin darkness into light. Enlightenment comes in stepping away from the darkness of lies and deceptions to see the world as it is, with clarity. It means stripping away our own self defenses and admitting our own shortcomings, prejudices, and predispositions.

It may not always be the desired outcome one hoped for, but it is an honest reality. And maybe that is enlightenment, the willingness to face all truths with honesty.

To dare to know.

Sapere Aude!

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