Essay on Autonomous Thinking and Immanuel Kant

Essay on Autonomous Thinking and Immanuel Kant

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Considered to be one of the most important philosophers of modern Europe and an important part of philosophical thinking, Immanuel Kant paved the way for current ethical thinkers. He paved the way for philosophers and social behavioral scientists such as Jean Piaget. Kant's theory is hinged by his beliefs on autonomy and his formulation of categorical imperatives.
Kant believed in autonomy however, knowing that autonomy has flaws, he created the categorical imperatives. Autonomy allows us to be self creating when it comes to our values and morality. Autonomy is ones own beliefs, independence, and government: acting without regard for anyone else. Conversely, heteronomy is acting under the influence of someone else and allows for an individual to consistently place blame outside of self. Kant believed that each individual is rational and capable of making free choices; thereby relies on autonomous thinking (Wikipedia, 2009.)

Kant understood that autonomous thinking in and of itself is flawed. To address these flaws, he created the three maxims known as categorical imperatives. These imperatives state: maxims should be chosen with regard to the universal laws of nature (perfect and imperfect duty), do not use humanity of ourselves or others as a means to an end, and one should "act that we may think of ourselves as a member in the universal realm of ends (Wikipedia, 2009.")

The first maxim states that we should choose our 'codes of conduct' only if they serve perfect / imperfect duty and are good for all. Perfect duties are blameworthy if not met and are the basic requirements for a human being. An example of perfect duty is the avoidance of suicide. Suicide is the end of life and Kant believed that "self love impels the improveme...


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...others as we would have done unto us. If we believe that we are justified in murder then we have broken Kant's belief that murder does not benefit the universal good. Under Kant's theory we can only position ourselves for the benefit of universal good thereby denying ourselves the opportunity to live by any other code. If we deny codes of conduct, we could easily deny our religions. Kant believed we could not rely on religion because the belief in G*d cannot be concretely proven. Individuals could not be held to the written mitzvahs since they were constructed by an entity whose existence cannot be proven and cannot be considered to be autonomous in thought (Kemeringly, 2001.) Without laws to govern humanity, I believe humanity would perish and would argue that fully autonomous thinking does not benefit humankind universally. It is selfish and merely self righteous.

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