Kant envisions a public forum where powerless subjects would have the right to enter into critical debate about political matters, and to do so in such ways as to make the absolutist state accountable to its enlightment public. In this schema, enlightment does much more than encourage individuals to think for themselves. The process of enlightment aspires to negociate political agency, to grant a public of politically powerless enlightment intellectuals influence in the process of goverment. Enlightment is not just about racional-critical debate. It also aspires to some model of political action. As Kant defines it, enlightment always attempts to politize itself.

Jobathan M. Hess
Enlightment, Public Culture and the Invention of Aesthetic Autonomy