The spring semester 2018 is about to start. The registration numbers for the two courses I am teaching for bachelor students have just hit 700, and are still rising.
As usual, I am trying to get myself in the right mood for coping with this huge amount of young curiosity.
Luck struck me yesterday when listening to “Diagonal” in Austria’s best radio channel OE1. They talked about David Byrne and his new album “American Utopia”, his “Bicycle Diaries”, and his recent talks with the title “Reasons To Be Cheerful”.
In this radio show, the new book by Steven Pinker, “Enlightment Now” was mentioned. The sub-title of this book is “The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress”.
Quickly afterwards I had Pinker’s book on my e-book reader. After having spent reading this book for two hours or so, I decided to use this topic as the main theme governing my courses on “Computer Organisation”.
What is “Enlightment”?
Well, in his famous 1784 essay “What Is Enlightenment?”, the philosopher Immanuel Kant described it as follows:
“Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is the incapacity to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another. Such tutelage is self-imposed if its cause is not lack of intelligence, but rather a lack of determination and courage to use one’s intelligence without being guided by another.”
Let me cite the original German wording:
“Aufklärung ist der Ausgang des Menschen aus seiner selbstverschuldeten Unmündigkeit. Unmündigkeit ist das Unvermögen, sich seines Verstandes ohne Leitung eines anderen zu bedienen. Selbstverschuldet ist diese Unmündigkeit, wenn die Ursache derselben nicht am Mangel des Verstandes, sondern der Entschließung und des Muthes liegt, sich seiner ohne Leitung eines anderen zu bedienen.”
And the next sentence is this:
“Sapere aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen! ist also der Wahlspruch der Aufklärung.”
“Dare to think!”
This is what I would like to teach my students. And the guiding ideas should be Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.
We currently seem to have far too little of this element visible in the daily discussions over the state of this planet.
Welcome to my courses.