It is from the epithet of a parable, explaining that a fool waits for the stream to stop before crossing, while a wise man forgoes comfort and crosses anyway.
The original use seems to be in Epistle II of Horace‘s Epistularum liber primus:
“Dimidium facti qui coepit habet: sapere aude” (“He who has begun is half done: dare to know!”).
- “Have the courage to think for yourself“
- “Have courage to use your own reason“, in the context of committing to tasks that need to be embarked upon, however unpleasant or awkward.
- “Dare to be wise”, the motto of the Enlightenment.
- Immanuel Kant described it as the motto of the Enlightenment in his essay “What Is Enlightenment?“.
- It is a frequently used motto for academic institutions.
Kant answers the question in the first sentence of the essay: “Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity (Unmündigkeit).”
He argues that the immaturity is self-inflicted not from a lack of understanding, but from the lack of courage to use one’s reason, intellect, and wisdom without the guidance of another.
Kant argued that using one’s reason is considered dangerous by most men and all women.
He exclaims that the motto of the Enlightenment is “Sapere aude“! – Dare to be wise!
“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.
‘Have courage to use your own reason!’- that is the motto of enlightenment.”
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