Essay On Kant On The Good Will

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Obvious -the word that perhaps succinctly defines the way Kant saw the truths of the world around him. Not so obvious are the arguments that lie within his writings. As he emphasizes the importance, yet confusing nature of reason in his Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, he proves his own point by his reasoning processes. However, in this work he systematically develops his argument for a universal good- the good will, in which inclination, duty, and reason play crucial roles. In this essay I will explain Kant's reasoning behind his statement that the only true good, without qualification, is the good will, and consequentially determine whether his idea of good varies from the Platonic ideal of goodness.
In Kant's development of his theory he relied upon the faculty of human reason to demonstrate his hypotheses. He begins by inquiring as to the ultimate purpose of human reason.
He considers for a moment that man's reason exists to bring happiness, however he quickly

nullifies this assumption with a common sense judgment:

We find that the more cultivated reason devotes itself to the aim of enjoying life and happiness, the further does man get away from true contentment. . . . because after calculating all the advantages they derive, ... they yet find that they have in fact only brought more trouble on their heads than they have gained in happiness. 1

Thus it is clear to Kant that the long-held idea that reason existed to nurture man's happiness is fundamentally untrue. However Kant maintained that there must be a purpose for which reason was placed in man. He arrives at the conclusion that although reason influences the will, it is not meant to do so in order to supply any goods outside of its initial influence, "[reason'...

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...accruing to me or even to others, but because it cannot be fitting as a principle in a possible legislation of universal Iason exacts from me immediate respect for such legislation. 11

This means that if one's maxim clearly nullifies itself once applied theoretically on a universal level, the maxim, or the theoretic legislation, must be considered against that which is good.
When considering the Platonic form of goodness, Kant's idea of the good will is similar in that it adheres to a theoretical universal, and that reason is essential to its discovery. However, the concept of the Golden Rule is not important to Plato and he would certainly scoff at the exclusivity of the term "moral." But at the heart of the comparison lies the .sim• arity in the

importance of reason, the importance of duty, and the idea of a universal.

9 Ibid.,953.

10 Ibid.

11 1bid.
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