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Immanuel KantKant in
"Pure reason is practical of itself alone
and gives (to man) a universal law
which we call the moral law..."
"Morality is not the doctrine of
how we may make ourselves happy,
but how we may make ourselves
worthy of happiness!"
Immanuel Kant grew up in |
Koenigsberg, East Prussia
He received a stern education
strict, punitive, and disciplinary
learned Latin early, and got
strong religious instructions.
His first school was the
Collegium Fredericianum, later he
enrolled at the University of Königsberg
where he studied Theology, Philosophy,
natural science, physics, and mathematics
Born: April 22, 1724
Capital of East Prussia
Died: Feb. 12, 1804
His father was a craftsman
"All the preparations of reason, therefore, in what may be called pure philosophy, are in reality directed to those three problems only:|
God, the soul, and freedom.
However, these three elements in themselves still hold independent, proportional, objective weight individually. Moreover, in a collective relational context; namely, to know what ought to be done: if the will is free, if there is a God, and if there is a future world. As this concerns our actions with reference to the highest aims of life, we see that the ultimate intention of nature in her wise provision was really, in the constitution of our reason, directed to moral interests only."
Kant stated: "If one cannot prove that a thing is, he may try to prove that it is not. And if he succeeds in doing neither (as often occurs), he may still ask whether it is in his interest to accept one or the other of the alternatives hypothetically, from the theoretical or the practical point of view. Hence the question no longer is as to whether perpetual peace is a real thing or not a real thing, or as to whether we may not be deceiving ourselves when we adopt the former alternative, but we must act on the supposition of its being real." The presupposition of God, soul, and freedom was then a practical concern, for "Morality, by itself, constitutes a system, but happiness does not, unless it is distributed in exact proportion to morality. This, however, is possible in an intelligible world only under a wise author and ruler. Reason compels us to admit such a ruler, together with life in such a world, which we must consider as future like, or else all moral laws are to be considered as idle dreams." Kant argued that "a good will is one that acts from duty in accordance with the universal moral law" that the autonomous human being freely gives itself.
Kant wrote more on this important theory in his book "The Critique of Pure Reason", which has often been cited as the most significant volume of metaphysics and epistemology in modern philosophy.
Immanuel Kant developed his moral philosophy in three works:
Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals in 1785
Critique of Practical Reason in 1787
Metaphysics of Morals in 1797
Listen to the first words of What is enlightenment
In the Groundwork, Kant's method involves trying to convert our everyday, obvious, rational knowledge of morality into philosophical knowledge. The latter two works followed a method of using "practical reason" , which is based only upon things about which reason can tell us, and not deriving any principles from experience, to reach conclusions which are able to be applied to the world of experience (in the second part of The Metaphysic of Morals).
Kant is known for his theory that there is a single moral obligation, which he called the "Categorical Imperative", and is derived from the concept of duty. Kant defines the demands of the moral law as "categorical imperatives."
"Categorical imperatives are principles that are intrinsically valid; they are good in and of themselves. They must be obeyed in all situations and circumstances if our behavior is to observe the moral law."
"From the Categorical Imperative all other moral obligations are generated, and by which all moral obligations can be tested."
Kant believed that the moral law is a principle of reason itself, and is not based on contingent facts about the world, such as what would make us happy, but to act upon the moral law which has no other motive than "worthiness of being happy". Moral obligation applies to all and only rational agents.
Kant believed that if an action is not done with the motive of duty, then it is without moral value. He thought that every action should have pure intention behind it; otherwise it was meaningless. He didn't necessarily believe that the final result was the most important aspect of an action, but that how the person felt while carrying out the action was the time at which value was set to the result.
"Always act according to that maxim whose universality as a law you can at the same time will"
"So act as if your maxims should serve at the same time as the universal law (of all rational beings)"
Political philosophy of Immanuel Kant listed several conditions that he thought necessary for ending wars and creating a lasting peace, only possible in a world of constitutional republics. Kant thought long about democracy, and came to the conclusion that a direct democracy, would posed a threat to individual liberty. He stated: "Democracy is, properly speaking, necessarily a despotism, because it establishes an executive power in which 'all' decide for or even against one who does not agree; that is, 'all,' who are not quite all, decide, and this is a contradiction of the general will with itself and with freedom."
Kant was not able to think that people who pledged to serve their country, would just look for power, or money!
In Kant's brain clear rules guided him through life. One of them he cited very often:
"Live your life as though your every act were to become a universal law."
"...only the ideal of morality and the universalization of refined value through the improvement of the mind of man belongs to culture.
“Law And Freedom without Violence (Anarchy)|
Law And Violence without Freedom (Despotism)
Violence without Freedom And Law (Barbarism)
Violence with Freedom And Law (Republic)
“Enlightenment is man’s leaving his self-caused immaturity. Immaturity is the incapacity to use one's intelligence without the guidance of another. Such immaturity is self-caused if it is not caused by lack of intelligence, but by lack of determination and courage to use one's intelligence without being guided by another. Sapere Aude! Have the courage to use your own intelligence! is therefore the motto of the enlightenment...”
Immanuel Kant - Critique of Pure Reason|
"Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more often and steadily we reflect upon them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me. I do not seek or conjecture either of them as if they were veiled obscurities or extravagances beyond the horizon of my vision; I see them before me and connect them immediately with the consciousness of my existence."
"Laziness and cowardice explain why so many men. . . remain under a life-long tutelage and why it is so easy for some men to set themselves up as the guardians of all the rest. . . If I have a book which understands for me, a pastor who has a conscience for me, a doctor who decides my diet, I need not trouble myself. If I am willing to pay, I need not think. Others will do it for me.”
Think about: A lot of the freedom Americans have faced in their country is based on the thoughts of many enlightened men|
Immanuel Kant has written his famous books over 2 centuries ago!
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We have tried to give you a little glimpse of one of the German philosophers
Immanuel Kant was part of the "Age of Enlightenment", a time when knowledge and understanding was highest priority.
When I read the thoughts of these famous men that lived centuries ago, I often wonder why these values, why this kind of moral thinking is very scarcely found today? Maybe responsibility is not convenient anymore?
"Responsibility is born when the love, the feeling of responsibility for others
grows stronger than the love for yourself."
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