Kant’s preface opens with a discussion of the difference between physics, ethics and logic, the latter of which Kant views as “formal philosophy” in contrast with physics and ethics, which he calls “material philosophy.” Physics, Kant describes as dealing with how the world works, whereas ethics deals with how it ought to work. He further distinguishes between “empirical” and “pure” philosophy, declaring the necessity of the latter in order to build a solid and unassailable foundation for ethics. He declares, “The sole aim of the present Groundwork is to seek out and establish the supreme principle of morality” (60), and he explains that his intention is to move from common sense thought and observation to theory and back again.
The first chapter is entitled “Passage from Ordinary Rational Knowledge of Morality to Philosophical,” and Kant opens it by declaring, “It is impossible to conceive anything at all in the world, or even out of it, which can be taken as good without qualification except a good will” (61). This is true, he says, because even laudable qualities and abilities can be turned to evil ends if exercised with ill will. Nonetheless, it is not consequences of an action that are ultimately good or bad, but only the will that animates it (61-62).
Kant points to the human capacity for reason as an indication of the importance of good will, argui...
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...er, that his insistence on not submitting to any will but one’s own is so diametrically opposed to biblical injunctions to submit to God and even to human authority, that his viewpoint could reasonably be characterized as diabolical. His emphasis on duty, similarly, resonates with the scriptural idea of dying to self, but the idea that pleasure can strip dutiful behavior of moral value in no way fits with the Bible’s emphasis on love, joy, and whole-heartedness.
Taken together, the emphasis on freedom of the will, self-determination, and the categorical imperative amount to an unsettling rule for conduct. His prescription for moral conduct is that in every decision and every action, people should ask themselves how they want all mankind to conduct themselves, in essence to imagine themselves in the place of God. Such “groundwork” is a shaky foundation for morality.
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- Immanuel Kant was a philosopher born on April 22, 1724, in Konigsberg, East Prussia. Kant devoted his life into writing, reading and teaching. During his time, Kant began his philosophical journey being a believer of rationalism, which is the study of anything based of reasoning or knowledge justifying an idea. He studied this for years but figured a different view was better. That view was the view through metaphysics. Metaphysics is the base of all philosophy which analyzes abstract concepts of life such as time and space.... [tags: Morality, Ethics, Immanuel Kant, Philosophy]
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