Enlightenment through sciences and culture.

States that ‘culture is to enlightenment as theory is to practice’ emphasizing the necessity of understanding and applying the practical aspect of culture which for him mainly manifests in the aesthetics of the arts, customs, technological advancements and other tangible aspects of our cultural lives – qualities which connote ‘human perfectibility.’ Enlightenment, therefore, is founded mainly on cultural progress and on its practice. He adds that ‘discernment’ intensifies ‘morality’ while ‘cultural criticism’ enhances ‘virtuosity’ (314). Even if these concepts necessitate divergent definitions, ‘they exist in the closest possible synergy’ (314). Although these expressions are identical in concept, they equally represent the struggles of the individuals to develop themselves and improve their social position. He believes that artistic endeavors such as an architectural work portrays development and can bring society advantages as these impinge upon human perfection. He believes that human perfection can be used as a gauge to measure our struggles as well as a great prize. Moreover, Mendelssohn brings forth the notion of being ‘polished’ which according to him is parallel to being cultured. Nations whose ‘polish’ is the result of their efforts to achieve enlightenment should be praised. He contends that social class and status or vocation establishes that duties, responsibilities, and rights of individuals in society which puts forth demands in relation to social status, talents, skills and incidences or tendencies. “The more these qualities correspond exactly to the different social classes with their professions, the more culture a nation possesses” (317).

This denotes the importance of both culture and enlightenment that the citizens and individuals must possess in that “all practical virtues only acquire meaning in relation to life in the social sphere” (315). As Mendelssohn asserts that culture and enlightenment are manifested in the aesthetics, the philosopher assumes that the human soul has learned to mimic beauty in different forms of arts.

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