The Metaphysical Elements of Ethics
72 Pages
English
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The Metaphysical Elements of Ethics

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72 Pages
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Metaphysical Elements of Ethics by Immanuel Kant (#4 in our series by ImmanuelKant)Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloadingor redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of thisfile. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can alsofind out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****Title: The Metaphysical Elements of EthicsAuthor: Immanuel KantRelease Date: May, 2004 [EBook #5684] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first postedon August 7, 2002]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK, THE METAPHYSICAL ELEMENTS OF ETHICS ***This eBook was prepared by Matthew Stapleton.1780THE METAPHYSICAL ELEMENTS OF ETHICSby Immanuel Kanttranslated by Thomas Kingsmill AbbottPREFACEIf there exists on any subject a ...

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The MetaphysicalElements of Ethics by Immanuel Kant (#4 in ourseries by Immanuel Kant)sCuorpey triog chth leacwk st haer ec ocphayrniggihnt gl aawll so fvoerr  ytohue r wcooruldn.t rByebefore downloading or redistributing this or anyother Project Gutenberg eBook.vTiheiws inhge atdhiesr  Psrhoojeulcdt  bGeu ttehne bfierrsgt  tfihlien. gP lseeaesne  wdhoe nnotremove it. Do not change or edit the headerwithout written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and otherinformation about the eBook and ProjectGutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included isimportant information about your specific rights andrestrictions in how the file may be used. You canalso find out about how to make a donation toProject Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain VanillaElectronic Texts****eBooks Readable By Both Humans and ByComputers, Since 1971*******These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousandsof Volunteers!*****Title: The Metaphysical Elements of Ethics
Author: Immanuel KantRelease Date: May, 2004 [EBook #5684] [Yes, weare more than one year ahead of schedule] [Thisfile was first posted on August 7, 2002]Edition: 10Language: English*E**B OSTOAK,R TT HOEF  MTEHTE APPRHOYJSEICCAT L GEULTEEMNEBNETRSG OFETHICS ***This eBook was prepared by Matthew Stapleton.0871THE METAPHYSICAL ELEMENTS OF ETHICSby Immanuel Kanttranslated by Thomas Kingsmill AbbottPREFACEIf there exists on any subject a philosophy (that is,
a system of rational knowledge based onconcepts), then there must also be for thisphilosophy a system of pure rational concepts,independent of any condition of intuition, in otherwords, a metaphysic. It may be asked whethermetaphysical elements are required also for everypractical philosophy, which is the doctrine of duties,and therefore also for Ethics, in order to be able topresent it as a true science (systematically), notmerely as an aggregate of separate doctrines(fragmentarily). As regards pure jurisprudence, noone will question this requirement; for it concernsonly what is formal in the elective will, which has tobe limited in its external relations according to lawsof freedom; without regarding any end which is thematter of this will. Here, therefore, deontology is amere scientific doctrine (doctrina scientiae). ** One who is acquainted with practical philosophyis not, therefore, a practical philosopher. The latteris he who makes the rational end the principle ofhis actions, while at the same time he joins withthis the necessary knowledge which, as it aims ataction, must not be spun out into the most subtilethreads of metaphysic, unless a legal duty is inquestion; in which case meum and tuum must beaccurately determined in the balance of justice, onthe principle of equality of action and action, whichrequires something like mathematical proportion,but not in the case of a mere ethical duty. For inthis case the question is not only to know what it isa duty to do (a thing which on account of the ends
that all men naturally have can be easily decided),but the chief point is the inner principle of the willnamely that the consciousness of this duty be alsothe spring of action, in order that we may be ableto say of the man who joins to his knowledge thisprinciple of wisdom that he is a practicalphilosopher.Now in this philosophy (of ethics) it seems contraryto the idea of it that we should go back tometaphysical elements in order to make the notionof duty purified from everything empirical (fromevery feeling) a motive of action. For what sort ofnotion can we form of the mighty power andherculean strength which would be sufficient toovercome the vice-breeding inclinations, if Virtue isto borrow her "arms from the armoury ofmetaphysics," which is a matter of speculation thatonly few men can handle? Hence all ethicalteaching in lecture rooms, pulpits, and popularbooks, when it is decked out with fragments ofmetaphysics, becomes ridiculous. But it is not,therefore, useless, much less ridiculous, to trace inmetaphysics the first principles of ethics; for it isonly as a philosopher that anyone can reach thefirst principles of this conception of duty, otherwisewe could not look for either certainty or purity in theethical teaching. To rely for this reason on a certainfeeling which, on account of the effect expectedfrom it, is called moral, may, perhaps, even satisfythe popular teacher, provided he desires as thecriterion of a moral duty to consider the problem:
"If everyone in every case made your maxim theuniversal law, how could this law be consistent withitself?" But if it were merely feeling that made it ourduty to take this principle as a criterion, then thiswould not be dictated by reason, but only adoptedinstinctively and therefore blindly.{PREFACE ^paragraph 5}But in fact, whatever men imagine, no moralprinciple is based on any feeling, but such aprinciple is really nothing else than an obscurelyconceived metaphysic which inheres in everyman's reasoning faculty; as the teacher will easilyfind who tries to catechize his pupils in the Socraticmethod about the imperative of duty and itsapplication to the moral judgement of his actions.The mode of stating it need not be alwaysmetaphysical, and the language need notnecessarily be scholastic, unless the pupil is to betrained to be a philosopher. But the thought mustgo back to the elements of metaphysics, withoutwhich we cannot expect any certainty or purity, oreven motive power in ethics.If we deviate from this principle and begin frompathological, or purely sensitive, or even moralfeeling (from what is subjectively practical insteadof what is objective), that is, from the matter of thewill, the end, not from its form that is the law, inorder from thence to determine duties; then,certainly, there are no metaphysical elements ofethics, for feeling by whatever it may be excited isalways physical. But then ethical teaching, whether
in schools, or lecture-rooms, etc., is corrupted in itssource. For it is not a matter of indifference bywhat motives or means one is led to a goodpurpose (the obedience to duty). Howeverdisgusting, then, metaphysics may appear to thosepretended philosophers who dogmatize oracularly,or even brilliantly, about the doctrine of duty, it is,nevertheless, an indispensable duty for those whooppose it to go back to its principles even in ethics,and to begin by going to school on its benches.We may fairly wonder how, after all previousexplanations of the principles of duty, so far as it isderived from pure reason, it was still possible toreduce it again to a doctrine of happiness; in sucha way, however, that a certain moral happiness notresting on empirical causes was ultimately arrivedat, a self-contradictory nonentity. In fact, when thethinking man has conquered the temptations tovice, and is conscious of having done his (oftenhard) duty, he finds himself in a state of peace andsatisfaction which may well be called happiness, inwhich virtue is her own reward. Now, says theeudaemonist, this delight, this happiness, is thereal motive of his acting virtuously. The notion ofduty, says be, does not immediately determine hiswill; it is only by means of the happiness inprospect that he is moved to his duty. Now, on theother hand, since he can promise himself thisreward of virtue only from the consciousness ofhaving done his duty, it is clear that the latter musthave preceded: that is, be must feel himself bound
to do his duty before he thinks, and withoutthinking, that happiness will be the consequence ofobedience to duty. He is thus involved in a circle inhis assignment of cause and effect. He can onlyhope to be happy if he is conscious of hisobedience to duty: and he can only be moved toobedience to duty if be foresees that he willthereby become happy. But in this reasoning thereis also a contradiction. For, on the one side, hemust obey his duty, without asking what effect thiswill have on his happiness, consequently, from amoral principle; on the other side, he can onlyrecognize something as his duty when he canreckon on happiness which will accrue to himthereby, and consequently on a pathologicalprinciple, which is the direct opposite of the former.I have in another place (the Berlin Monatsschrift),reduced, as I believe, to the simplest expressionsthe distinction between pathological and moralpleasure. The pleasure, namely, which mustprecede the obedience to the law in order that onemay act according to the law is pathological, andthe process follows the physical order of nature;that which must be preceded by the law in orderthat it may be felt is in the moral order. If thisdistinction is not observed; if eudaemonism (theprinciple of happiness) is adopted as the principleinstead of eleutheronomy (the principle of freedomof the inner legislation), the consequence is theeuthanasia (quiet death) of all morality.{PREFACE ^paragraph 10}
The cause of these mistakes is no other than thefollowing: Those who are accustomed only tophysiological explanations will not admit into theirheads the categorical imperative from which theselaws dictatorially proceed, notwithstanding that theyfeel themselves irresistibly forced by it. Dissatisfiedat not being able to explain what lies wholly beyondthat sphere, namely, freedom of the elective will,elevating as is this privilege, that man has of beingcapable of such an idea. They are stirred up by theproud claims of speculative reason, which feels itspower so strongly in the fields, just as if they wereallies leagued in defence of the omnipotence oftheoretical reason and roused by a general call toarms to resist that idea; and thus they are atpresent, and perhaps for a long time to come,though ultimately in vain, to attack the moralconcept of freedom and if possible render itdoubtful.INTRODUCTIONIENLTERMOEDNUTCS TIOOF NE TTOHI TCHSE METAPHYSICALEthics in ancient times signified moral philosophy(philosophia moral is) generally, which was alsocalled the doctrine of duties. Subsequently it wasfound advisable to confine this name to a part ofmoral philosophy, namely, to the doctrine of dutieswhich are not subject to external laws (for which in
German the name Tugendlehre was foundsuitable). Thus the system of general deontology isdivided into that of jurisprudence (jurisprudentia),which is capable of external laws, and of ethics,which is not thus capable, and we may let thisdivision stand.I. Exposition of the Conception of EthicsThe notion of duty is in itself already the notion of aconstraint of the free elective will by the law;whether this constraint be an external one or beself-constraint. The moral imperative, by itscategorical (the unconditional ought) announcesthis constraint, which therefore does not apply toall rational beings (for there may also be holybeings), but applies to men as rational physicalbeings who are unholy enough to be seduced bypleasure to the transgression of the moral law,although they themselves recognize its authority;and when they do obey it, to obey it unwillingly(with resistance of their inclination); and it is in thisthat the constraint properly consists. * Now, asman is a free (moral) being, the notion of duty cancontain only self-constraint (by the idea of the lawitself), when we look to the internal determinationof the will (the spring), for thus only is it possible tocombine that constraint (even if it were external)with the freedom of the elective will. The notion of
duty then must be an ethical one.{INTRODUCTION ^paragraph 5}* Man, however, as at the same time a moralbeing, when he considers himself objectively, whichhe is qualified to do by his pure practical reason,(i.e., according to humanity in his own person).finds himself holy enough to transgress the lawonly unwillingly; for there is no man so depravedwho in this transgression would not feel aresistance and an abhorrence of himself, so thathe must put a force on himself. It is impossible toexplain the phenomenon that at this parting of theways (where the beautiful fable places Herculesbetween virtue and sensuality) man shows morepropensity to obey inclination than the law. For, wecan only explain what happens by tracing it to acause according to physical laws; but then weshould not be able to conceive the elective will asfree. Now this mutually opposed self-constraint andthe inevitability of it makes us recognize theincomprehensible property of freedom.The impulses of nature, then, contain hindrancesto the fulfilment of duty in the mind of man, andresisting forces, some of them powerful; and hemust judge himself able to combat these and toconquer them by means of reason, not in thefuture, but in the present, simultaneously with thethought; he must judge that he can do what the law