Sapere Aude

SAPERE AUDE! (Dare to KNow)

It’s 1784. Your name is Immanuel Kant, and you’re a celebrated German Philosopher in the town of Königsberg, (what is now Kaliningrad, Russia). You’re frustrated that people have lost their will think think for themselves. They move about the streets in a sort of robotic trance, like mice in a maze – honestly, this sounds like most busy streets today. Anyway, back to the story. You decide to write an essay to shake the world awake, and you call this essay ‘What is Enlightenment?’ But people will not notice your essay unless you arm it with a battlecry, and so dig into history and find the perfect Latin phrase – sapere aude!

Sapere aude means Dare to Know. You write these words with vigor, challenging your future readers to look up from the haze of their religions, work duties, politics, and more. Your goal is to get people to stop, and even for one brief moment consider the question, “What do I believe?”
You hope in that moment that people will reach for the courage to find out.

Today, Immanuel Kant stands as one of the greatest philosophers of all time. You may not agree with all of his theories ( I sure don’t ), but his call to sapere aude still stands as a rallying call to all of us waking up each morning, never asking the critical questions of life.

Try this. Find an hour today to read a book that goes against everything you believe. Does that scare you? Good. It should. Perhaps you’re Republican. If so, read something written by a Democrat. Maybe you’re a dedicated Christian. Try reading a book by Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, or Christopher Hitchens (Athiests). Perhaps you only murder mysteries (which I love). Try reading a book on psychology, finance, or anxiety.

Whatever you read today, the goal is for you to sapere aude! Take hold of the beautiful world around you. Dare to learn about it rather than be one of the millions who prefer not to challenge their beliefs and would rather close their eyes to information.

Until tomorrow, read slowly – take notes – apply the ideas.


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