And what of the Enlightenment itself? Here we may draw on the incisive analysis of Michel Foucault in his 1978 lecture ‘What is Enlightenment?’ As Foucault pointed out, the Enlightenment, ‘as a set of political, economic, social, institutional, and cultural events on which we still depend in large part, constitutes a privileged domain for analysis.’ But performing this analysis ‘does not mean that one has to be “for” or “against” the Enlightenment.’ In fact, this is intellectual ‘blackmail,’ which it is imperative to refuse:

It even means precisely that one has to refuse everything that might present itself in the form of a simplistic and authoritarian alternative: you either accept the Enlightenment and remain within the tradition of its rationalism (this is considered a positive term by some and used by others, on the contrary, as a reproach); or else you criticize the Enlightenment and then try to escape from its principles of rationality (which may be seen once again as good or bad). And we do not break free of this blackmail by introducing ‘dialectical’ nuances while seeking to determine what good and bad elements there may have been in the Enlightenment.

Asad Haider, “The Paradox of Enlightenment”
(via meatthawsmoth)

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