Immanuel Kant simply stated the creed of the enlightenment: "Dare to know," (Kant 1). To thinkers like Kant, to achieve enlightenment was to "gain release from self-incurred tutelage [the] inability to make use of [one's] understanding without direction from another," (Kant 1). Enlightenment thinkers addressed this issue. They present to us the question; why is it so hard to think for oneself? They propose answers to this puzzle, as well as provide solutions that will teach us how to think for ourselves. Through Immanuel Kant's "What is Enlightenment" and J.S. Mill's On Liberty, we can gain a deeper understanding of this question, and its answers. .
According to Kant, "laziness and cowardice" (1) are why we don't think for ourselves. But this also contributes to the difficulty of thinking for ourselves. We get into the habit of letting others think for us thus it gets increasingly difficult to break this pattern. It is simply easier to let others do the thinking for us. Those who do the thinking also contribute to the pattern. They would, of course, like to maintain their control over the masses that do not think for themselves, so, the "guardians" "show the danger which threatens if they try to go alone," (Kant 2). One example of "failure makes them timid and frightens them away from all further trials," (Kant 2). This is one way that people were taught not to think for themselves, and were prompted to keep letting others think for them. What is so interesting is that Mills tells us "the mass do not now take their opinions from books. Their thinking is done for them by men much like themselves, addressing them or speaking in their name, on the spur of the moment, through the newspapers," (63). The media bombards us with ideas and we are, in a sense, forced to take these opinions and make them our own. We only see what the media wants us to see and understand the world through this perception.