Can conformist tendencies be eliminated from the cultivation of learning? Kant provides an intrepid answer in his seminal essay ‘An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?’, which was first published in 1784. He states: ‘Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-incurred immaturity.’ Such immaturity he describes as ‘the inability to use one’s own understanding without the guidance of another.’1 There is an energy-building attractiveness about Kant’s answer. It manifests the spirit of challenge and the bright hopefulness of the Enlightenment itself; the anticipation that centuries of servile compliance with authoritarian tutelage might finally yield to the blossoming of the rational autonomy of each person.2 We have already seen, however, that disposing of prejudice is a more intractable affair than Kant and the inheritors of the Enlightenment legacy supposed. The insight that ‘we belong to history before it belongs to us’ is unknown to Kant’s thinking. Had he encountered the force and pursued the consequences of this insight, he could scarcely have claimed so much as he did for the powers of human reason. We are now more conscious of the limitations arising from human finitude and from the embeddedness of human experience within history. We have to acknowledge that even the detection, not to speak of the critical appraisal, of all of the previous influences at work in human understanding presents insurmountable difficulties. Such influences, as previously noted, include prejudices, both in the sense of prejudices against and prejudices for something. They also include preconceptions, presuppositions and prior assumptions of diverse sorts. All of these constitute the predisposed context from which a person’s efforts to understand necessarily arise.