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+ <title>Immanuel Kant: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals</title>
+<body class="hentry groundwork">
+ <h1 class="entry-title"><a href='/kant/groundwork_of_the_metaphysics_of_morals/'>Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals</a></h1>
+ <h2><address class="author vcard"><span class="fn">Immanuel Kant</span></h2>
+ <div class="entry-content">
+ <h3>Contents</h3>
+ <ul>
+ <li><a href="/kant/groundwork_of_the_metaphysics_of_morals/preface.html">Preface</a></li>
+ <li><a href="/kant/groundwork_of_the_metaphysics_of_morals/section_one.html">First
+ Section</a>: Transition from the common rational knowledge of morality
+ to the philosophical.</li>
+ <li><a href="/kant/groundwork_of_the_metaphysic_of_morals/section_two.html">Second
+ Section</a>: Transition from popular moral philosophy to the metaphysic
+ of morals.</li>
+ <li><a href="/kant/groundwork_of_the_metaphysic_of_morals/section_three.html">Third
+ Section</a>: Final step from the metaphysic of morals to the critique of
+ the pure practical reason.</li>
+ </ul>
+ </div>
+ <div class="meta">
+ <p>This text is based on the 1934 translation by Thomas Kingsmill Abbott; I've simply cleaned up the typography, and added emphasis according to my copy of Mary Gregor's translation. The plaintext from Abbott that I started with is available via <a href=''>the Gutenberg Project</a></p>
+ <p class="rights">This work is in <a rel="copyright license" href="">the public domain</a>.</p>
+ <p>Go back to the <a href='/'>list of texts</a>.
+ </div>
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- <title>Immanuel Kant: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals</title>
+ <title>Immanuel Kant: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals &mdash; Preface</title>
<body class="hentry groundwork">
<h1 class="entry-title"><a href='/kant/groundwork_of_the_metaphysics_of_morals/'>Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals</a></h1>
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Section</a>: Transition from the common rational knowledge of morality
to the philosophical.</li>
<li><a href="/kant/groundwork_of_the_metaphysic_of_morals/section_two.html">Second
- Section</a>. Transition from popular moral philosophy to the metaphysic
+ Section</a>: Transition from popular moral philosophy to the metaphysic
of morals.</li>
<li><a href="/kant/groundwork_of_the_metaphysic_of_morals/section_three.html">Third
- Section</a>. Final step from the metaphysic of morals to the critique of
+ Section</a>: Final step from the metaphysic of morals to the critique of
the pure practical reason.</li>
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- <title>Immanuel Kant: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals</title>
+ <title>Immanuel Kant: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals &mdash; Section One</title>
<body class="hentry groundwork">
<h1 class="entry-title"><a href="/kant/groundwork_of_the_metaphysics_of_morals/">Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals</a></h1>
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<p>Go back to the <a href="/">list of texts</a>.
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+The Concept of Freedom is the Key that explains the Autonomy of
+the Will
+The will is a kind of causality belonging to living beings in so far
+as they are rational, and freedom would be this property of such
+causality that it can be efficient, independently of foreign causes
+determining it; just as physical necessity is the property that the
+causality of all irrational beings has of being determined to activity
+by the influence of foreign causes.
+The preceding definition of freedom is negative and therefore
+unfruitful for the discovery of its essence, but it leads to a
+positive conception which is so much the more full and fruitful.
+Since the conception of causality involves that of laws, according
+to which, by something that we call cause, something else, namely
+the effect, must be produced; hence, although freedom is not a
+property of the will depending on physical laws, yet it is not for
+that reason lawless; on the contrary it must be a causality acting
+according to immutable laws, but of a peculiar kind; otherwise a
+free will would be an absurdity. Physical necessity is a heteronomy of
+the efficient causes, for every effect is possible only according to
+this law, that something else determines the efficient cause to
+exert its causality. What else then can freedom of the will be but
+autonomy, that is, the property of the will to be a law to itself? But
+the proposition: "The will is in every action a law to itself," only
+expresses the principle: "To act on no other maxim than that which can
+also have as an object itself as a universal law." Now this is
+precisely the formula of the categorical imperative and is the
+principle of morality, so that a free will and a will subject to moral
+laws are one and the same.
+On the hypothesis, then, of freedom of the will, morality together
+with its principle follows from it by mere analysis of the conception.
+However, the latter is a synthetic proposition; viz., an absolutely
+good will is that whose maxim can always include itself regarded as
+a universal law; for this property of its maxim can never be
+discovered by analysing the conception of an absolutely good will. Now
+such synthetic propositions are only possible in this way: that the
+two cognitions are connected together by their union with a third in
+which they are both to be found. The positive concept of freedom
+furnishes this third cognition, which cannot, as with physical causes,
+be the nature of the sensible world (in the concept of which we find
+conjoined the concept of something in relation as cause to something
+else as effect). We cannot now at once show what this third is to
+which freedom points us and of which we have an idea a priori, nor can
+we make intelligible how the concept of freedom is shown to be
+legitimate from principles of pure practical reason and with it the
+possibility of a categorical imperative; but some further
+preparation is required.
+ Freedom must be presupposed as a Property of the Will
+ of all Rational Beings
+It is not enough to predicate freedom of our own will, from Whatever
+reason, if we have not sufficient grounds for predicating the same
+of all rational beings. For as morality serves as a law for us only
+because we are rational beings, it must also hold for all rational
+beings; and as it must be deduced simply from the property of freedom,
+it must be shown that freedom also is a property of all rational
+beings. It is not enough, then, to prove it from certain supposed
+experiences of human nature (which indeed is quite impossible, and
+it can only be shown a priori), but we must show that it belongs to
+the activity of all rational beings endowed with a will. Now I say
+every being that cannot act except under the idea of freedom is just
+for that reason in a practical point of view really free, that is to
+say, all laws which are inseparably connected with freedom have the
+same force for him as if his will had been shown to be free in
+itself by a proof theoretically conclusive. * Now I affirm that we
+must attribute to every rational being which has a will that it has
+also the idea of freedom and acts entirely under this idea. For in
+such a being we conceive a reason that is practical, that is, has
+causality in reference to its objects. Now we cannot possibly conceive
+a reason consciously receiving a bias from any other quarter with
+respect to its judgements, for then the subject would ascribe the
+determination of its judgement not to its own reason, but to an
+impulse. It must regard itself as the author of its principles
+independent of foreign influences. Consequently as practical reason or
+as the will of a rational being it must regard itself as free, that is
+to say, the will of such a being cannot be a will of its own except
+under the idea of freedom. This idea must therefore in a practical
+point of view be ascribed to every rational being.
+* I adopt this method of assuming freedom merely as an idea which
+rational beings suppose in their actions, in order to avoid the
+necessity of proving it in its theoretical aspect also. The former
+is sufficient for my purpose; for even though the speculative proof
+should not be made out, yet a being that cannot act except with the
+idea of freedom is bound by the same laws that would oblige a being
+who was actually free. Thus we can escape here from the onus which
+presses on the theory.
+ Of the Interest attaching to the Ideas of Morality
+We have finally reduced the definite conception of morality to the
+idea of freedom. This latter, however, we could not prove to be
+actually a property of ourselves or of human nature; only we saw
+that it must be presupposed if we would conceive a being as rational
+and conscious of its causality in respect of its actions, i.e., as
+endowed with a will; and so we find that on just the same grounds we
+must ascribe to every being endowed with reason and will this
+attribute of determining itself to action under the idea of its
+Now it resulted also from the presupposition of these ideas that
+we became aware of a law that the subjective principles of action,
+i.e., maxims, must always be so assumed that they can also hold as
+objective, that is, universal principles, and so serve as universal
+laws of our own dictation. But why then should I subject myself to
+this principle and that simply as a rational being, thus also
+subjecting to it all other being endowed with reason? I will allow
+that no interest urges me to this, for that would not give a
+categorical imperative, but I must take an interest in it and
+discern how this comes to pass; for this properly an "I ought" is
+properly an "I would," valid for every rational being, provided only
+that reason determined his actions without any hindrance. But for
+beings that are in addition affected as we are by springs of a
+different kind, namely, sensibility, and in whose case that is not
+always done which reason alone would do, for these that necessity is
+expressed only as an "ought," and the subjective necessity is
+different from the objective.
+It seems then as if the moral law, that is, the principle of
+autonomy of the will, were properly speaking only presupposed in the
+idea of freedom, and as if we could not prove its reality and
+objective necessity independently. In that case we should still have
+gained something considerable by at least determining the true
+principle more exactly than had previously been done; but as regards
+its validity and the practical necessity of subjecting oneself to
+it, we should not have advanced a step. For if we were asked why the
+universal validity of our maxim as a law must be the condition
+restricting our actions, and on what we ground the worth which we
+assign to this manner of acting- a worth so great that there cannot be
+any higher interest; and if we were asked further how it happens
+that it is by this alone a man believes he feels his own personal
+worth, in comparison with which that of an agreeable or disagreeable
+condition is to be regarded as nothing, to these questions we could
+give no satisfactory answer.
+We find indeed sometimes that we can take an interest in a
+personal quality which does not involve any interest of external
+condition, provided this quality makes us capable of participating
+in the condition in case reason were to effect the allotment; that
+is to say, the mere being worthy of happiness can interest of itself
+even without the motive of participating in this happiness. This
+judgement, however, is in fact only the effect of the importance of
+the moral law which we before presupposed (when by the idea of freedom
+we detach ourselves from every empirical interest); but that we
+ought to detach ourselves from these interests, i.e., to consider
+ourselves as free in action and yet as subject to certain laws, so
+as to find a worth simply in our own person which can compensate us
+for the loss of everything that gives worth to our condition; this
+we are not yet able to discern in this way, nor do we see how it is
+possible so to act- in other words, whence the moral law derives its
+It must be freely admitted that there is a sort of circle here
+from which it seems impossible to escape. In the order of efficient
+causes we assume ourselves free, in order that in the order of ends we
+may conceive ourselves as subject to moral laws: and we afterwards
+conceive ourselves as subject to these laws, because we have
+attributed to ourselves freedom of will: for freedom and
+self-legislation of will are both autonomy and, therefore, are
+reciprocal conceptions, and for this very reason one must not be
+used to explain the other or give the reason of it, but at most only
+logical purposes to reduce apparently different notions of the same
+object to one single concept (as we reduce different fractions of
+the same value to the lowest terms).
+One resource remains to us, namely, to inquire whether we do not
+occupy different points of view when by means of freedom we think
+ourselves as causes efficient a priori, and when we form our
+conception of ourselves from our actions as effects which we see
+before our eyes.
+It is a remark which needs no subtle reflection to make, but which
+we may assume that even the commonest understanding can make, although
+it be after its fashion by an obscure discernment of judgement which
+it calls feeling, that all the "ideas" that come to us involuntarily
+(as those of the senses) do not enable us to know objects otherwise
+than as they affect us; so that what they may be in themselves remains
+unknown to us, and consequently that as regards "ideas" of this kind
+even with the closest attention and clearness that the understanding
+can apply to them, we can by them only attain to the knowledge of
+appearances, never to that of things in themselves. As soon as this
+distinction has once been made (perhaps merely in consequence of the
+difference observed between the ideas given us from without, and in
+which we are passive, and those that we produce simply from ourselves,
+and in which we show our own activity), then it follows of itself that
+we must admit and assume behind the appearance something else that
+is not an appearance, namely, the things in themselves; although we
+must admit that as they can never be known to us except as they affect
+us, we can come no nearer to them, nor can we ever know what they
+are in themselves. This must furnish a distinction, however crude,
+between a world of sense and the world of understanding, of which
+the former may be different according to the difference of the
+sensuous impressions in various observers, while the second which is
+its basis always remains the same, Even as to himself, a man cannot
+pretend to know what he is in himself from the knowledge he has by
+internal sensation. For as he does not as it were create himself,
+and does not come by the conception of himself a priori but
+empirically, it naturally follows that he can obtain his knowledge
+even of himself only by the inner sense and, consequently, only
+through the appearances of his nature and the way in which his
+consciousness is affected. At the same time beyond these
+characteristics of his own subject, made up of mere appearances, he
+must necessarily suppose something else as their basis, namely, his
+ego, whatever its characteristics in itself may be. Thus in respect to
+mere perception and receptivity of sensations he must reckon himself
+as belonging to the world of sense; but in respect of whatever there
+may be of pure activity in him (that which reaches consciousness
+immediately and not through affecting the senses), he must reckon
+himself as belonging to the intellectual world, of which, however,
+he has no further knowledge. To such a conclusion the reflecting man
+must come with respect to all the things which can be presented to
+him: it is probably to be met with even in persons of the commonest
+understanding, who, as is well known, are very much inclined to
+suppose behind the objects of the senses something else invisible
+and acting of itself. They spoil it, however, by presently
+sensualizing this invisible again; that is to say, wanting to make
+it an object of intuition, so that they do not become a whit the
+Now man really finds in himself a faculty by which he
+distinguishes himself from everything else, even from himself as
+affected by objects, and that is reason. This being pure spontaneity
+is even elevated above the understanding. For although the latter is a
+spontaneity and does not, like sense, merely contain intuitions that
+arise when we are affected by things (and are therefore passive),
+yet it cannot produce from its activity any other conceptions than
+those which merely serve to bring the intuitions of sense under
+rules and, thereby, to unite them in one consciousness, and without
+this use of the sensibility it could not think at all; whereas, on the
+contrary, reason shows so pure a spontaneity in the case of what I
+call ideas [ideal conceptions] that it thereby far transcends
+everything that the sensibility can give it, and exhibits its most
+important function in distinguishing the world of sense from that of
+understanding, and thereby prescribing the limits of the understanding
+For this reason a rational being must regard himself qua
+intelligence (not from the side of his lower faculties) as belonging
+not to the world of sense, but to that of understanding; hence he
+has two points of view from which he can regard himself, and recognise
+laws of the exercise of his faculties, and consequently of all his
+actions: first, so far as he belongs to the world of sense, he finds
+himself subject to laws of nature (heteronomy); secondly, as belonging
+to the intelligible world, under laws which being independent of
+nature have their foundation not in experience but in reason alone.
+As a rational being, and consequently belonging to the
+intelligible world, man can never conceive the causality of his own
+will otherwise than on condition of the idea of freedom, for
+independence of the determinate causes of the sensible world (an
+independence which reason must always ascribe to itself) is freedom.
+Now the idea of freedom is inseparably connected with the conception
+of autonomy, and this again with the universal principle of morality
+which is ideally the foundation of all actions of rational beings,
+just as the law of nature is of all phenomena.
+Now the suspicion is removed which we raised above, that there was a
+latent circle involved in our reasoning from freedom to autonomy,
+and from this to the moral law, viz.: that we laid down the idea of
+freedom because of the moral law only that we might afterwards in turn
+infer the latter from freedom, and that consequently we could assign
+no reason at all for this law, but could only [present] it as a
+petitio principii which well disposed minds would gladly concede to
+us, but which we could never put forward as a provable proposition.
+For now we see that, when we conceive ourselves as free, we transfer
+ourselves into the world of understanding as members of it and
+recognise the autonomy of the will with its consequence, morality;
+whereas, if we conceive ourselves as under obligation, we consider
+ourselves as belonging to the world of sense and at the same time to
+the world of understanding.
+ How is a Categorical Imperative Possible?
+Every rational being reckons himself qua intelligence as belonging
+to the world of understanding, and it is simply as an efficient
+cause belonging to that world that he calls his causality a will. On
+the other side he is also conscious of himself as a part of the
+world of sense in which his actions, which are mere appearances
+[phenomena] of that causality, are displayed; we cannot, however,
+discern how they are possible from this causality which we do not
+know; but instead of that, these actions as belonging to the
+sensible world must be viewed as determined by other phenomena,
+namely, desires and inclinations. If therefore I were only a member of
+the world of understanding, then all my actions would perfectly
+conform to the principle of autonomy of the pure will; if I were
+only a part of the world of sense, they would necessarily be assumed
+to conform wholly to the natural law of desires and inclinations, in
+other words, to the heteronomy of nature. (The former would rest on
+morality as the supreme principle, the latter on happiness.) Since,
+however, the world of understanding contains the foundation of the
+world of sense, and consequently of its laws also, and accordingly
+gives the law to my will (which belongs wholly to the world of
+understanding) directly, and must be conceived as doing so, it follows
+that, although on the one side I must regard myself as a being
+belonging to the world of sense, yet on the other side I must
+recognize myself as subject as an intelligence to the law of the world
+of understanding, i.e., to reason, which contains this law in the idea
+of freedom, and therefore as subject to the autonomy of the will:
+consequently I must regard the laws of the world of understanding as
+imperatives for me and the actions which conform to them as duties.
+And thus what makes categorical imperatives possible is this, that
+the idea of freedom makes me a member of an intelligible world, in
+consequence of which, if I were nothing else, all my actions would
+always conform to the autonomy of the will; but as I at the same
+time intuite myself as a member of the world of sense, they ought so
+to conform, and this categorical "ought" implies a synthetic a
+priori proposition, inasmuch as besides my will as affected by
+sensible desires there is added further the idea of the same will
+but as belonging to the world of the understanding, pure and practical
+of itself, which contains the supreme condition according to reason of
+the former will; precisely as to the intuitions of sense there are
+added concepts of the understanding which of themselves signify
+nothing but regular form in general and in this way synthetic a priori
+propositions become possible, on which all knowledge of physical
+nature rests.
+The practical use of common human reason confirms this reasoning.
+There is no one, not even the most consummate villain, provided only
+that he is otherwise accustomed to the use of reason, who, when we set
+before him examples of honesty of purpose, of steadfastness in
+following good maxims, of sympathy and general benevolence (even
+combined with great sacrifices of advantages and comfort), does not
+wish that he might also possess these qualities. Only on account of
+his inclinations and impulses he cannot attain this in himself, but at
+the same time he wishes to be free from such inclinations which are
+burdensome to himself. He proves by this that he transfers himself
+in thought with a will free from the impulses of the sensibility
+into an order of things wholly different from that of his desires in
+the field of the sensibility; since he cannot expect to obtain by that
+wish any gratification of his desires, nor any position which would
+satisfy any of his actual or supposable inclinations (for this would
+destroy the pre-eminence of the very idea which wrests that wish
+from him): he can only expect a greater intrinsic worth of his own
+person. This better person, however, he imagines himself to be when be
+transfers himself to the point of view of a member of the world of the
+understanding, to which he is involuntarily forced by the idea of
+freedom, i.e., of independence on determining causes of the world of
+sense; and from this point of view he is conscious of a good will,
+which by his own confession constitutes the law for the bad will
+that he possesses as a member of the world of sense- a law whose
+authority he recognizes while transgressing it. What he morally
+"ought" is then what he necessarily "would," as a member of the
+world of the understanding, and is conceived by him as an "ought" only
+inasmuch as he likewise considers himself as a member of the world
+of sense.
+ Of the Extreme Limits of all Practical Philosophy.
+All men attribute to themselves freedom of will. Hence come all
+judgements upon actions as being such as ought to have been done,
+although they have not been done. However, this freedom is not a
+conception of experience, nor can it be so, since it still remains,
+even though experience shows the contrary of what on supposition of
+freedom are conceived as its necessary consequences. On the other side
+it is equally necessary that everything that takes place should be
+fixedly determined according to laws of nature. This necessity of
+nature is likewise not an empirical conception, just for this
+reason, that it involves the motion of necessity and consequently of a
+priori cognition. But this conception of a system of nature is
+confirmed by experience; and it must even be inevitably presupposed if
+experience itself is to be possible, that is, a connected knowledge of
+the objects of sense resting on general laws. Therefore freedom is
+only an idea of reason, and its objective reality in itself is
+doubtful; while nature is a concept of the understanding which proves,
+and must necessarily prove, its reality in examples of experience.
+There arises from this a dialectic of reason, since the freedom
+attributed to the will appears to contradict the necessity of
+nature, and placed between these two ways reason for speculative
+purposes finds the road of physical necessity much more beaten and
+more appropriate than that of freedom; yet for practical purposes
+the narrow footpath of freedom is the only one on which it is possible
+to make use of reason in our conduct; hence it is just as impossible
+for the subtlest philosophy as for the commonest reason of men to
+argue away freedom. Philosophy must then assume that no real
+contradiction will be found between freedom and physical necessity
+of the same human actions, for it cannot give up the conception of
+nature any more than that of freedom.
+Nevertheless, even though we should never be able to comprehend
+how freedom is possible, we must at least remove this apparent
+contradiction in a convincing manner. For if the thought of freedom
+contradicts either itself or nature, which is equally necessary, it
+must in competition with physical necessity be entirely given up.
+It would, however, be impossible to escape this contradiction if the
+thinking subject, which seems to itself free, conceived itself in
+the same sense or in the very same relation when it calls itself
+free as when in respect of the same action it assumes itself to be
+subject to the law of nature. Hence it is an indispensable problem
+of speculative philosophy to show that its illusion respecting the
+contradiction rests on this, that we think of man in a different sense
+and relation when we call him free and when we regard him as subject
+to the laws of nature as being part and parcel of nature. It must
+therefore show that not only can both these very well co-exist, but
+that both must be thought as necessarily united in the same subject,
+since otherwise no reason could be given why we should burden reason
+with an idea which, though it may possibly without contradiction be
+reconciled with another that is sufficiently established, yet
+entangles us in a perplexity which sorely embarrasses reason in its
+theoretic employment. This duty, however, belongs only to
+speculative philosophy. The philosopher then has no option whether
+he will remove the apparent contradiction or leave it untouched; for
+in the latter case the theory respecting this would be bonum vacans,
+into the possession of which the fatalist would have a right to
+enter and chase all morality out of its supposed domain as occupying
+it without title.
+We cannot however as yet say that we are touching the bounds of
+practical philosophy. For the settlement of that controversy does
+not belong to it; it only demands from speculative reason that it
+should put an end to the discord in which it entangles itself in
+theoretical questions, so that practical reason may have rest and
+security from external attacks which might make the ground debatable
+on which it desires to build.
+The claims to freedom of will made even by common reason are founded
+on the consciousness and the admitted supposition that reason is
+independent of merely subjectively determined causes which together
+constitute what belongs to sensation only and which consequently
+come under the general designation of sensibility. Man considering
+himself in this way as an intelligence places himself thereby in a
+different order of things and in a relation to determining grounds
+of a wholly different kind when on the one hand he thinks of himself
+as an intelligence endowed with a will, and consequently with
+causality, and when on the other he perceives himself as a
+phenomenon in the world of sense (as he really is also), and affirms
+that his causality is subject to external determination according to
+laws of nature. Now he soon becomes aware that both can hold good,
+nay, must hold good at the same time. For there is not the smallest
+contradiction in saying that a thing in appearance (belonging to the
+world of sense) is subject to certain laws, of which the very same
+as a thing or being in itself is independent, and that he must
+conceive and think of himself in this twofold way, rests as to the
+first on the consciousness of himself as an object affected through
+the senses, and as to the second on the consciousness of himself as an
+intelligence, i.e., as independent on sensible impressions in the
+employment of his reason (in other words as belonging to the world
+of understanding).
+Hence it comes to pass that man claims the possession of a will
+which takes no account of anything that comes under the head of
+desires and inclinations and, on the contrary, conceives actions as
+possible to him, nay, even as necessary which can only be done by
+disregarding all desires and sensible inclinations. The causality of
+such actions lies in him as an intelligence and in the laws of effects
+and actions [which depend] on the principles of an intelligible world,
+of which indeed he knows nothing more than that in it pure reason
+alone independent of sensibility gives the law; moreover since it is
+only in that world, as an intelligence, that he is his proper self
+(being as man only the appearance of himself), those laws apply to him
+directly and categorically, so that the incitements of inclinations
+and appetites (in other words the whole nature of the world of
+sense) cannot impair the laws of his volition as an intelligence. Nay,
+he does not even hold himself responsible for the former or ascribe
+them to his proper self, i.e., his will: he only ascribes to his
+will any indulgence which he might yield them if he allowed them to
+influence his maxims to the prejudice of the rational laws of the
+When practical reason thinks itself into a world of understanding,
+it does not thereby transcend its own limits, as it would if it
+tried to enter it by intuition or sensation. The former is only a
+negative thought in respect of the world of sense, which does not give
+any laws to reason in determining the will and is positive only in
+this single point that this freedom as a negative characteristic is at
+the same time conjoined with a (positive) faculty and even with a
+causality of reason, which we designate a will, namely a faculty of so
+acting that the principle of the actions shall conform to the
+essential character of a rational motive, i.e., the condition that the
+maxim have universal validity as a law. But were it to borrow an
+object of will, that is, a motive, from the world of understanding,
+then it would overstep its bounds and pretend to be acquainted with
+something of which it knows nothing. The conception of a world of
+the understanding is then only a point of view which reason finds
+itself compelled to take outside the appearances in order to
+conceive itself as practical, which would not be possible if the
+influences of the sensibility had a determining power on man, but
+which is necessary unless he is to be denied the consciousness of
+himself as an intelligence and, consequently, as a rational cause,
+energizing by reason, that is, operating freely. This thought
+certainly involves the idea of an order and a system of laws different
+from that of the mechanism of nature which belongs to the sensible
+world; and it makes the conception of an intelligible world
+necessary (that is to say, the whole system of rational beings as
+things in themselves). But it does not in the least authorize us to
+think of it further than as to its formal condition only, that is, the
+universality of the maxims of the will as laws, and consequently the
+autonomy of the latter, which alone is consistent with its freedom;
+whereas, on the contrary, all laws that refer to a definite object
+give heteronomy, which only belongs to laws of nature and can only
+apply to the sensible world.
+But reason would overstep all its bounds if it undertook to
+explain how pure reason can be practical, which would be exactly the
+same problem as to explain how freedom is possible.
+For we can explain nothing but that which we can reduce to laws, the
+object of which can be given in some possible experience. But
+freedom is a mere idea, the objective reality of which can in no
+wise be shown according to laws of nature, and consequently not in any
+possible experience; and for this reason it can never be
+comprehended or understood, because we cannot support it by any sort
+of example or analogy. It holds good only as a necessary hypothesis of
+reason in a being that believes itself conscious of a will, that is,
+of a faculty distinct from mere desire (namely, a faculty of
+determining itself to action as an intelligence, in other words, by
+laws of reason independently on natural instincts). Now where
+determination according to laws of nature ceases, there all
+explanation ceases also, and nothing remains but defence, i.e., the
+removal of the objections of those who pretend to have seen deeper
+into the nature of things, and thereupon boldly declare freedom
+impossible. We can only point out to them that the supposed
+contradiction that they have discovered in it arises only from this,
+that in order to be able to apply the law of nature to human
+actions, they must necessarily consider man as an appearance: then
+when we demand of them that they should also think of him qua
+intelligence as a thing in itself, they still persist in considering
+him in this respect also as an appearance. In this view it would no
+doubt be a contradiction to suppose the causality of the same
+subject (that is, his will) to be withdrawn from all the natural
+laws of the sensible world. But this contradiction disappears, if they
+would only bethink themselves and admit, as is reasonable, that behind
+the appearances there must also lie at their root (although hidden)
+the things in themselves, and that we cannot expect the laws of
+these to be the same as those that govern their appearances.
+The subjective impossibility of explaining the freedom of the will
+is identical with the impossibility of discovering and explaining an
+interest * which man can take in the moral law. Nevertheless he does
+actually take an interest in it, the basis of which in us we call
+the moral feeling, which some have falsely assigned as the standard of
+our moral judgement, whereas it must rather be viewed as the
+subjective effect that the law exercises on the will, the objective
+principle of which is furnished by reason alone.
+* Interest is that by which reason becomes practical, i.e., a cause
+determining the will. Hence we say of rational beings only that they
+take an interest in a thing; irrational beings only feel sensual
+appetites. Reason takes a direct interest in action then only when the
+universal validity of its maxims is alone sufficient to determine
+the will. Such an interest alone is pure. But if it can determine
+the will only by means of another object of desire or on the
+suggestion of a particular feeling of the subject, then reason takes
+only an indirect interest in the action, and, as reason by itself
+without experience cannot discover either objects of the will or a
+special feeling actuating it, this latter interest would only be
+empirical and not a pure rational interest. The logical interest of
+reason (namely, to extend its insight) is never direct, but
+presupposes purposes for which reason is employed.
+In order indeed that a rational being who is also affected through
+the senses should will what reason alone directs such beings that they
+ought to will, it is no doubt requisite that reason should have a
+power to infuse a feeling of pleasure or satisfaction in the
+fulfilment of duty, that is to say, that it should have a causality by
+which it determines the sensibility according to its own principles.
+But it is quite impossible to discern, i.e., to make it intelligible a
+priori, how a mere thought, which itself contains nothing sensible,
+can itself produce a sensation of pleasure or pain; for this is a
+particular kind of causality of which as of every other causality we
+can determine nothing whatever a priori; we must only consult
+experience about it. But as this cannot supply us with any relation of
+cause and effect except between two objects of experience, whereas
+in this case, although indeed the effect produced lies within
+experience, yet the cause is supposed to be pure reason acting through
+mere ideas which offer no object to experience, it follows that for us
+men it is quite impossible to explain how and why the universality
+of the maxim as a law, that is, morality, interests. This only is
+certain, that it is not because it interests us that it has validity
+for us (for that would be heteronomy and dependence of practical
+reason on sensibility, namely, on a feeling as its principle, in which
+case it could never give moral laws), but that it interests us because
+it is valid for us as men, inasmuch as it had its source in our will
+as intelligences, in other words, in our proper self, and what belongs
+to mere appearance is necessarily subordinated by reason to the nature
+of the thing in itself.
+The question then, "How a categorical imperative is possible," can
+be answered to this extent, that we can assign the only hypothesis
+on which it is possible, namely, the idea of freedom; and we can
+also discern the necessity of this hypothesis, and this is
+sufficient for the practical exercise of reason, that is, for the
+conviction of the validity of this imperative, and hence of the
+moral law; but how this hypothesis itself is possible can never be
+discerned by any human reason. On the hypothesis, however, that the
+will of an intelligence is free, its autonomy, as the essential formal
+condition of its determination, is a necessary consequence.
+Moreover, this freedom of will is not merely quite possible as a
+hypothesis (not involving any contradiction to the principle of
+physical necessity in the connexion of the phenomena of the sensible
+world) as speculative philosophy can show: but further, a rational
+being who is conscious of causality through reason, that is to say, of
+a will (distinct from desires), must of necessity make it practically,
+that is, in idea, the condition of all his voluntary actions. But to
+explain how pure reason can be of itself practical without the aid
+of any spring of action that could be derived from any other source,
+i.e., how the mere principle of the universal validity of all its
+maxims as laws (which would certainly be the form of a pure
+practical reason) can of itself supply a spring, without any matter
+(object) of the will in which one could antecedently take any
+interest; and how it can produce an interest which would be called
+purely moral; or in other words, how pure reason can be practical-
+to explain this is beyond the power of human reason, and all the
+labour and pains of seeking an explanation of it are lost.
+It is just the same as if I sought to find out how freedom itself is
+possible as the causality of a will. For then I quit the ground of
+philosophical explanation, and I have no other to go upon. I might
+indeed revel in the world of intelligences which still remains to
+me, but although I have an idea of it which is well founded, yet I
+have not the least knowledge of it, nor an I ever attain to such
+knowledge with all the efforts of my natural faculty of reason. It
+signifies only a something that remains over when I have eliminated
+everything belonging to the world of sense from the actuating
+principles of my will, serving merely to keep in bounds the
+principle of motives taken from the field of sensibility; fixing its
+limits and showing that it does not contain all in all within
+itself, but that there is more beyond it; but this something more I
+know no further. Of pure reason which frames this ideal, there remains
+after the abstraction of all matter, i.e., knowledge of objects,
+nothing but the form, namely, the practical law of the universality of
+the maxims, and in conformity with this conception of reason in
+reference to a pure world of understanding as a possible efficient
+cause, that is a cause determining the will. There must here be a
+total absence of springs; unless this idea of an intelligible world is
+itself the spring, or that in which reason primarily takes an
+interest; but to make this intelligible is precisely the problem
+that we cannot solve.
+Here now is the extreme limit of all moral inquiry, and it is of
+great importance to determine it even on this account, in order that
+reason may not on the one band, to the prejudice of morals, seek about
+in the world of sense for the supreme motive and an interest
+comprehensible but empirical; and on the other hand, that it may not
+impotently flap its wings without being able to move in the (for it)
+empty space of transcendent concepts which we call the intelligible
+world, and so lose itself amidst chimeras. For the rest, the idea of a
+pure world of understanding as a system of all intelligences, and to
+which we ourselves as rational beings belong (although we are likewise
+on the other side members of the sensible world), this remains
+always a useful and legitimate idea for the purposes of rational
+belief, although all knowledge stops at its threshold, useful, namely,
+to produce in us a lively interest in the moral law by means of the
+noble ideal of a universal kingdom of ends in themselves (rational
+beings), to which we can belong as members then only when we carefully
+conduct ourselves according to the maxims of freedom as if they were
+laws of nature.
+ Concluding Remark
+The speculative employment of reason with respect to nature leads to
+the absolute necessity of some supreme cause of the world: the
+practical employment of reason with a view to freedom leads also to
+absolute necessity, but only of the laws of the actions of a
+rational being as such. Now it is an essential principle of reason,
+however employed, to push its knowledge to a consciousness of its
+necessity (without which it would not be rational knowledge). It is,
+however, an equally essential restriction of the same reason that it
+can neither discern the necessity of what is or what happens, nor of
+what ought to happen, unless a condition is supposed on which it is or
+happens or ought to happen. In this way, however, by the constant
+inquiry for the condition, the satisfaction of reason is only
+further and further postponed. Hence it unceasingly seeks the
+unconditionally necessary and finds itself forced to assume it,
+although without any means of making it comprehensible to itself,
+happy enough if only it can discover a conception which agrees with
+this assumption. It is therefore no fault in our deduction of the
+supreme principle of morality, but an objection that should be made to
+human reason in general, that it cannot enable us to conceive the
+absolute necessity of an unconditional practical law (such as the
+categorical imperative must be). It cannot be blamed for refusing to
+explain this necessity by a condition, that is to say, by means of
+some interest assumed as a basis, since the law would then cease to be
+a supreme law of reason. And thus while we do not comprehend the
+practical unconditional necessity of the moral imperative, we yet
+comprehend its incomprehensibility, and this is all that can be fairly
+demanded of a philosophy which strives to carry its principles up to
+the very limit of human reason.
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+ <title>Immanuel Kant: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals &mdash; Section Two</title>
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+ <h1 class="entry-title"><a href="/kant/groundwork_of_the_metaphysics_of_morals/">Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals</a></h1>
+ <h2><address class="author vcard"><span class="fn">Immanuel Kant</span></h2>
+ <div class="entry-content">
+ <h3>Section One: Transition from popular moral philosophy to the metaphysics of morals</h3>
+<p id="p1">If we have hitherto drawn our notion of duty from the common use
+of our practical reason, it is by no means to be inferred that we have
+treated it as an empirical notion. On the contrary, if we attend to
+the experience of men's conduct, we meet frequent and, as we ourselves
+allow, just complaints that one cannot find a single certain example
+of the disposition to act from pure duty. Although many things are
+done in conformity with what duty prescribes, it is nevertheless
+always doubtful whether they are done strictly from duty, so as to
+have a moral worth. Hence there have at all times been philosophers
+who have altogether denied that this disposition actually exists at
+all in human actions, and have ascribed everything to a more or less
+refined self-love. Not that they have on that account questioned the
+soundness of the conception of morality; on the contrary, they spoke
+with sincere regret of the frailty and corruption of human nature,
+which, though noble enough to take its rule an idea so worthy of
+respect, is yet weak to follow it and employs reason which ought to
+give it the law only for the purpose of providing for the interest
+of the inclinations, whether singly or at the best in the greatest
+possible harmony with one another.
+<p id="p1">In fact, it is absolutely impossible to make out by experience
+with complete certainty a single case in which the maxim of an action,
+however right in itself, rested simply on moral grounds and on the
+conception of duty. Sometimes it happens that with the sharpest
+self-examination we can find nothing beside the moral principle of
+duty which could have been powerful enough to move us to this or
+that action and to so great a sacrifice; yet we cannot from this infer
+with certainty that it was not really some secret impulse of
+self-love, under the false appearance of duty, that was the actual
+determining cause of the will. We like them to flatter ourselves by
+falsely taking credit for a more noble motive; whereas in fact we
+can never, even by the strictest examination, get completely behind
+the secret springs of action; since, when the question is of moral
+worth, it is not with the actions which we see that we are
+concerned, but with those inward principles of them which we do not
+<p id="p1">Moreover, we cannot better serve the wishes of those who ridicule
+all morality as a mere chimera of human imagination over stepping
+itself from vanity, than by conceding to them that notions of duty
+must be drawn only from experience (as from indolence, people are
+ready to think is also the case with all other notions); for or is
+to prepare for them a certain triumph. I am willing to admit out of
+love of humanity that even most of our actions are correct, but if
+we look closer at them we everywhere come upon the dear self which
+is always prominent, and it is this they have in view and not the
+strict command of duty which would often require self-denial.
+Without being an enemy of virtue, a cool observer, one that does not
+mistake the wish for good, however lively, for its reality, may
+sometimes doubt whether true virtue is actually found anywhere in
+the world, and this especially as years increase and the judgement
+is partly made wiser by experience and partly, also, more acute in
+observation. This being so, nothing can secure us from falling away
+altogether from our ideas of duty, or maintain in the soul a
+well-grounded respect for its law, but the clear conviction that
+although there should never have been actions which really sprang from
+such pure sources, yet whether this or that takes place is not at
+all the question; but that reason of itself, independent on all
+experience, ordains what ought to take place, that accordingly actions
+of which perhaps the world has hitherto never given an example, the
+feasibility even of which might be very much doubted by one who founds
+everything on experience, are nevertheless inflexibly commanded by
+reason; that, e.g., even though there might never yet have been a
+sincere friend, yet not a whit the less is pure sincerity in
+friendship required of every man, because, prior to all experience,
+this duty is involved as duty in the idea of a reason determining
+the will by a priori principles.
+<p id="p1">When we add further that, unless we deny that the notion of morality
+has any truth or reference to any possible object, we must admit
+that its law must be valid, not merely for men but for all rational
+creatures generally, not merely under certain contingent conditions or
+with exceptions but with absolute necessity, then it is clear that
+no experience could enable us to infer even the possibility of such
+apodeictic laws. For with what right could we bring into unbounded
+respect as a universal precept for every rational nature that which
+perhaps holds only under the contingent conditions of humanity? Or how
+could laws of the determination of our will be regarded as laws of the
+determination of the will of rational beings generally, and for us
+only as such, if they were merely empirical and did not take their
+origin wholly a priori from pure but practical reason?
+<p id="p1">Nor could anything be more fatal to morality than that we should
+wish to derive it from examples. For every example of it that is set
+before me must be first itself tested by principles of morality,
+whether it is worthy to serve as an original example, i.e., as a
+pattern; but by no means can it authoritatively furnish the conception
+of morality. Even the Holy One of the Gospels must first be compared
+with our ideal of moral perfection before we can recognise Him as
+such; and so He says of Himself, "Why call ye Me (whom you see)
+good; none is good (the model of good) but God only (whom ye do not
+see)?" But whence have we the conception of God as the supreme good?
+Simply from the idea of moral perfection, which reason frames a priori
+and connects inseparably with the notion of a free will. Imitation
+finds no place at all in morality, and examples serve only for
+encouragement, i.e., they put beyond doubt the feasibility of what the
+law commands, they make visible that which the practical rule
+expresses more generally, but they can never authorize us to set aside
+the true original which lies in reason and to guide ourselves by
+<p id="p1">If then there is no genuine supreme principle of morality but what
+must rest simply on pure reason, independent of all experience, I
+think it is not necessary even to put the question whether it is
+good to exhibit these concepts in their generality (in abstracto) as
+they are established a priori along with the principles belonging to
+them, if our knowledge is to be distinguished from the vulgar and to
+be called philosophical.
+<p id="p1">In our times indeed this might perhaps be necessary; for if we
+collected votes whether pure rational knowledge separated from
+everything empirical, that is to say, metaphysic of morals, or whether
+popular practical philosophy is to be preferred, it is easy to guess
+which side would preponderate.
+<p id="p1">This descending to popular notions is certainly very commendable, if
+the ascent to the principles of pure reason has first taken place
+and been satisfactorily accomplished. This implies that we first found
+ethics on metaphysics, and then, when it is firmly established,
+procure a hearing for it by giving it a popular character. But it is
+quite absurd to try to be popular in the first inquiry, on which the
+soundness of the principles depends. It is not only that this
+proceeding can never lay claim to the very rare merit of a true
+philosophical popularity, since there is no art in being
+intelligible if one renounces all thoroughness of insight; but also it
+produces a disgusting medley of compiled observations and
+half-reasoned principles. Shallow pates enjoy this because it can be
+used for every-day chat, but the sagacious find in it only
+confusion, and being unsatisfied and unable to help themselves, they
+turn away their eyes, while philosophers, who see quite well through
+this delusion, are little listened to when they call men off for a
+time from this pretended popularity, in order that they might be
+rightfully popular after they have attained a definite insight.
+<p id="p1">We need only look at the attempts of moralists in that favourite
+fashion, and we shall find at one time the special constitution of
+human nature (including, however, the idea of a rational nature
+generally), at one time perfection, at another happiness, here moral
+sense, there fear of God. a little of this, and a little of that, in
+marvellous mixture, without its occurring to them to ask whether the
+principles of morality are to be sought in the knowledge of human
+nature at all (which we can have only from experience); or, if this is
+not so, if these principles are to be found altogether a priori,
+free from everything empirical, in pure rational concepts only and
+nowhere else, not even in the smallest degree; then rather to adopt
+the method of making this a separate inquiry, as pure practical
+philosophy, or (if one may use a name so decried) as metaphysic of
+morals<a class="note" id="cite1" href="#note1">1</a>, to bring it by itself to completeness, and to require the
+public, which wishes for popular treatment, to await the issue of this
+<p id="p1">Such a metaphysic of morals, completely isolated, not mixed with any
+anthropology, theology, physics, or hyperphysics, and still less
+with occult qualities (which we might call hypophysical), is not
+only an indispensable substratum of all sound theoretical knowledge of
+duties, but is at the same time a desideratum of the highest
+importance to the actual fulfilment of their precepts. For the pure
+conception of duty, unmixed with any foreign addition of empirical
+attractions, and, in a word, the conception of the moral law,
+exercises on the human heart, by way of reason alone (which first
+becomes aware with this that it can of itself be practical), an
+influence so much more powerful than all other springs <a class="note" id="cite2" href="#note2">2</a> which may be
+derived from the field of experience, that, in the consciousness of
+its worth, it despises the latter, and can by degrees become their
+master; whereas a mixed ethics, compounded partly of motives drawn
+from feelings and inclinations, and partly also of conceptions of
+reason, must make the mind waver between motives which cannot be
+brought under any principle, which lead to good only by mere
+accident and very often also to evil.
+<p id="p1">From what has been said, it is clear that all moral conceptions have
+their seat and origin completely a priori in the reason, and that,
+moreover, in the commonest reason just as truly as in that which is in
+the highest degree speculative; that they cannot be obtained by
+abstraction from any empirical, and therefore merely contingent,
+knowledge; that it is just this purity of their origin that makes them
+worthy to serve as our supreme practical principle, and that just in
+proportion as we add anything empirical, we detract from their genuine
+influence and from the absolute value of actions; that it is not
+only of the greatest necessity, in a purely speculative point of view,
+but is also of the greatest practical importance, to derive these
+notions and laws from pure reason, to present them pure and unmixed,
+and even to determine the compass of this practical or pure rational
+knowledge, i.e., to determine the whole faculty of pure practical
+reason; and, in doing so, we must not make its principles dependent on
+the particular nature of human reason, though in speculative
+philosophy this may be permitted, or may even at times be necessary;
+but since moral laws ought to hold good for every rational creature,
+we must derive them from the general concept of a rational being. In
+this way, although for its application to man morality has need of
+anthropology, yet, in the first instance, we must treat it
+independently as pure philosophy, i.e., as metaphysic, complete in
+itself (a thing which in such distinct branches of science is easily
+done); knowing well that unless we are in possession of this, it would
+not only be vain to determine the moral element of duty in right
+actions for purposes of speculative criticism, but it would be
+impossible to base morals on their genuine principles, even for common
+practical purposes, especially of moral instruction, so as to
+produce pure moral dispositions, and to engraft them on men's minds to
+the promotion of the greatest possible good in the world.
+<p id="p1">But in order that in this study we may not merely advance by the
+natural steps from the common moral judgement (in this case very
+worthy of respect) to the philosophical, as has been already done, but
+also from a popular philosophy, which goes no further than it can
+reach by groping with the help of examples, to metaphysic (which
+does allow itself to be checked by anything empirical and, as it
+must measure the whole extent of this kind of rational knowledge, goes
+as far as ideal conceptions, where even examples fail us), we must
+follow and clearly describe the practical faculty of reason, from
+the general rules of its determination to the point where the notion
+of duty springs from it.
+<p id="p1">Everything in nature works according to laws. Rational beings
+alone have the faculty of acting according to the conception of
+laws, that is according to principles, i.e., have a will. Since the
+deduction of actions from principles requires reason, the will is
+nothing but practical reason. If reason infallibly determines the
+will, then the actions of such a being which are recognised as
+objectively necessary are subjectively necessary also, i.e., the
+will is a faculty to choose that only which reason independent of
+inclination recognises as practically necessary, i.e., as good. But if
+reason of itself does not sufficiently determine the will, if the
+latter is subject also to subjective conditions (particular
+impulses) which do not always coincide with the objective
+conditions; in a word, if the will does not in itself completely
+accord with reason (which is actually the case with men), then the
+actions which objectively are recognised as necessary are subjectively
+contingent, and the determination of such a will according to
+objective laws is obligation, that is to say, the relation of the
+objective laws to a will that is not thoroughly good is conceived as
+the determination of the will of a rational being by principles of
+reason, but which the will from its nature does not of necessity
+<p id="p1">The conception of an objective principle, in so far as it is
+obligatory for a will, is called a command (of reason), and the
+formula of the command is called an imperative.
+<p id="p1">All imperatives are expressed by the word ought [or shall], and
+thereby indicate the relation of an objective law of reason to a will,
+which from its subjective constitution is not necessarily determined
+by it (an obligation). They say that something would be good to do
+or to forbear, but they say it to a will which does not always do a
+thing because it is conceived to be good to do it. That is practically
+good, however, which determines the will by means of the conceptions
+of reason, and consequently not from subjective causes, but
+objectively, that is on principles which are valid for every
+rational being as such. It is distinguished from the pleasant, as that
+which influences the will only by means of sensation from merely
+subjective causes, valid only for the sense of this or that one, and
+not as a principle of reason, which holds for every one <a class="note" id="cite3" href="#note3">3</a>.
+A perfectly good will would therefore be equally subject to
+objective laws (viz., laws of good), but could not be conceived as
+obliged thereby to act lawfully, because of itself from its subjective
+constitution it can only be determined by the conception of good.
+Therefore no imperatives hold for the Divine will, or in general for a
+holy will; ought is here out of place, because the volition is already
+of itself necessarily in unison with the law. Therefore imperatives
+are only formulae to express the relation of objective laws of all
+volition to the subjective imperfection of the will of this or that
+rational being, e.g., the human will.
+Now all imperatives command either hypothetically or
+categorically. The former represent the practical necessity of a
+possible action as means to something else that is willed (or at least
+which one might possibly will). The categorical imperative would be
+that which represented an action as necessary of itself without
+reference to another end, i.e., as objectively necessary.
+Since every practical law represents a possible action as good
+and, on this account, for a subject who is practically determinable by
+reason, necessary, all imperatives are formulae determining an
+action which is necessary according to the principle of a will good in
+some respects. If now the action is good only as a means to
+something else, then the imperative is hypothetical; if it is
+conceived as good in itself and consequently as being necessarily
+the principle of a will which of itself conforms to reason, then it is
+Thus the imperative declares what action possible by me would be
+good and presents the practical rule in relation to a will which
+does not forthwith perform an action simply because it is good,
+whether because the subject does not always know that it is good, or
+because, even if it know this, yet its maxims might be opposed to
+the objective principles of practical reason.
+Accordingly the hypothetical imperative only says that the action is
+good for some purpose, possible or actual. In the first case it is a
+problematical, in the second an assertorial practical principle. The
+categorical imperative which declares an action to be objectively
+necessary in itself without reference to any purpose, i.e., without
+any other end, is valid as an apodeictic (practical) principle.
+Whatever is possible only by the power of some rational being may
+also be conceived as a possible purpose of some will; and therefore
+the principles of action as regards the means necessary to attain some
+possible purpose are in fact infinitely numerous. All sciences have
+a practical part, consisting of problems expressing that some end is
+possible for us and of imperatives directing how it may be attained.
+These may, therefore, be called in general imperatives of skill.
+Here there is no question whether the end is rational and good, but
+only what one must do in order to attain it. The precepts for the
+physician to make his patient thoroughly healthy, and for a poisoner
+to ensure certain death, are of equal value in this respect, that each
+serves to effect its purpose perfectly. Since in early youth it cannot
+be known what ends are likely to occur to us in the course of life,
+parents seek to have their children taught a great many things, and
+provide for their skill in the use of means for all sorts of arbitrary
+ends, of none of which can they determine whether it may not perhaps
+hereafter be an object to their pupil, but which it is at all events
+possible that he might aim at; and this anxiety is so great that
+they commonly neglect to form and correct their judgement on the value
+of the things which may be chosen as ends.
+There is one end, however, which may be assumed to be actually
+such to all rational beings (so far as imperatives apply to them,
+viz., as dependent beings), and, therefore, one purpose which they not
+merely may have, but which we may with certainty assume that they
+all actually have by a natural necessity, and this is happiness. The
+hypothetical imperative which expresses the practical necessity of
+an action as means to the advancement of happiness is assertorial.
+We are not to present it as necessary for an uncertain and merely
+possible purpose, but for a purpose which we may presuppose with
+certainty and a priori in every man, because it belongs to his
+being. Now skill in the choice of means to his own greatest well-being
+may be called prudence <a class="note" id="cite4" href="#note4">4</a>, in the narrowest sense. And thus the
+imperative which refers to the choice of means to one's own happiness,
+i.e., the precept of prudence, is still always hypothetical; the
+action is not commanded absolutely, but only as means to another
+Finally, there is an imperative which commands a certain conduct
+immediately, without having as its condition any other purpose to be
+attained by it. This imperative is categorical. It concerns not the
+matter of the action, or its intended result, but its form and the
+principle of which it is itself a result; and what is essentially good
+in it consists in the mental disposition, let the consequence be
+what it may. This imperative may be called that of morality.
+There is a marked distinction also between the volitions on these
+three sorts of principles in the dissimilarity of the obligation of
+the will. In order to mark this difference more clearly, I think
+they would be most suitably named in their order if we said they are
+either rules of skill, or counsels of prudence, or commands (laws)
+of morality. For it is law only that involves the conception of an
+unconditional and objective necessity, which is consequently
+universally valid; and commands are laws which must be obeyed, that
+is, must be followed, even in opposition to inclination. Counsels,
+indeed, involve necessity, but one which can only hold under a
+contingent subjective condition, viz., they depend on whether this
+or that man reckons this or that as part of his happiness; the
+categorical imperative, on the contrary, is not limited by any
+condition, and as being absolutely, although practically, necessary,
+may be quite properly called a command. We might also call the first
+kind of imperatives technical (belonging to art), the second
+pragmatic <a class="note" id="cite5" href="#note5">5</a> (to welfare), the third moral (belonging to free conduct
+generally, that is, to morals).
+Now arises the question, how are all these imperatives possible?
+This question does not seek to know how we can conceive the
+accomplishment of the action which the imperative ordains, but
+merely how we can conceive the obligation of the will which the
+imperative expresses. No special explanation is needed to show how
+an imperative of skill is possible. Whoever wills the end, wills
+also (so far as reason decides his conduct) the means in his power
+which are indispensably necessary thereto. This proposition is, as
+regards the volition, analytical; for, in willing an object as my
+effect, there is already thought the causality of myself as an
+acting cause, that is to say, the use of the means; and the imperative
+educes from the conception of volition of an end the conception of
+actions necessary to this end. Synthetical propositions must no
+doubt be employed in defining the means to a proposed end; but they do
+not concern the principle, the act of the will, but the object and its
+realization. E.g., that in order to bisect a line on an unerring
+principle I must draw from its extremities two intersecting arcs; this
+no doubt is taught by mathematics only in synthetical propositions;
+but if I know that it is only by this process that the intended
+operation can be performed, then to say that, if I fully will the
+operation, I also will the action required for it, is an analytical
+proposition; for it is one and the same thing to conceive something as
+an effect which I can produce in a certain way, and to conceive myself
+as acting in this way.
+If it were only equally easy to give a definite conception of
+happiness, the imperatives of prudence would correspond exactly with
+those of skill, and would likewise be analytical. For in this case
+as in that, it could be said: "Whoever wills the end, wills also
+(according to the dictate of reason necessarily) the indispensable
+means thereto which are in his power." But, unfortunately, the
+notion of happiness is so indefinite that although every man wishes to
+attain it, yet he never can say definitely and consistently what it is
+that he really wishes and wills. The reason of this is that all the
+elements which belong to the notion of happiness are altogether
+empirical, i.e., they must be borrowed from experience, and
+nevertheless the idea of happiness requires an absolute whole, a
+maximum of welfare in my present and all future circumstances. Now
+it is impossible that the most clear-sighted and at the same time most
+powerful being (supposed finite) should frame to himself a definite
+conception of what he really wills in this. Does he will riches, how
+much anxiety, envy, and snares might he not thereby draw upon his
+shoulders? Does he will knowledge and discernment, perhaps it might
+prove to be only an eye so much the sharper to show him so much the
+more fearfully the evils that are now concealed from him, and that
+cannot be avoided, or to impose more wants on his desires, which
+already give him concern enough. Would he have long life? who
+guarantees to him that it would not be a long misery? would he at
+least have health? how often has uneasiness of the body restrained
+from excesses into which perfect health would have allowed one to
+fall? and so on. In short, he is unable, on any principle, to
+determine with certainty what would make him truly happy; because to
+do so he would need to be omniscient. We cannot therefore act on any
+definite principles to secure happiness, but only on empirical
+counsels, e.g. of regimen, frugality, courtesy, reserve, etc., which
+experience teaches do, on the average, most promote well-being.
+Hence it follows that the imperatives of prudence do not, strictly
+speaking, command at all, that is, they cannot present actions
+objectively as practically necessary; that they are rather to be
+regarded as counsels (consilia) than precepts precepts of reason, that
+the problem to determine certainly and universally what action would
+promote the happiness of a rational being is completely insoluble, and
+consequently no imperative respecting it is possible which should,
+in the strict sense, command to do what makes happy; because happiness
+is not an ideal of reason but of imagination, resting solely on
+empirical grounds, and it is vain to expect that these should define
+an action by which one could attain the totality of a series of
+consequences which is really endless. This imperative of prudence
+would however be an analytical proposition if we assume that the means
+to happiness could be certainly assigned; for it is distinguished from
+the imperative of skill only by this, that in the latter the end is
+merely possible, in the former it is given; as however both only
+ordain the means to that which we suppose to be willed as an end, it
+follows that the imperative which ordains the willing of the means
+to him who wills the end is in both cases analytical. Thus there is no
+difficulty in regard to the possibility of an imperative of this
+kind either.
+On the other hand, the question how the imperative of morality is
+possible, is undoubtedly one, the only one, demanding a solution, as
+this is not at all hypothetical, and the objective necessity which
+it presents cannot rest on any hypothesis, as is the case with the
+hypothetical imperatives. Only here we must never leave out of
+consideration that we cannot make out by any example, in other words
+empirically, whether there is such an imperative at all, but it is
+rather to be feared that all those which seem to be categorical may
+yet be at bottom hypothetical. For instance, when the precept is:
+"Thou shalt not promise deceitfully"; and it is assumed that the
+necessity of this is not a mere counsel to avoid some other evil, so
+that it should mean: "Thou shalt not make a lying promise, lest if
+it become known thou shouldst destroy thy credit," but that an
+action of this kind must be regarded as evil in itself, so that the
+imperative of the prohibition is categorical; then we cannot show with
+certainty in any example that the will was determined merely by the
+law, without any other spring of action, although it may appear to
+be so. For it is always possible that fear of disgrace, perhaps also
+obscure dread of other dangers, may have a secret influence on the
+will. Who can prove by experience the non-existence of a cause when
+all that experience tells us is that we do not perceive it? But in
+such a case the so-called moral imperative, which as such appears to
+be categorical and unconditional, would in reality be only a pragmatic
+precept, drawing our attention to our own interests and merely
+teaching us to take these into consideration.
+We shall therefore have to investigate a priori the possibility of a
+categorical imperative, as we have not in this case the advantage of
+its reality being given in experience, so that [the elucidation of]
+its possibility should be requisite only for its explanation, not
+for its establishment. In the meantime it may be discerned
+beforehand that the categorical imperative alone has the purport of
+a practical law; all the rest may indeed be called principles of the
+will but not laws, since whatever is only necessary for the attainment
+of some arbitrary purpose may be considered as in itself contingent,
+and we can at any time be free from the precept if we give up the
+purpose; on the contrary, the unconditional command leaves the will no
+liberty to choose the opposite; consequently it alone carries with
+it that necessity which we require in a law.
+Secondly, in the case of this categorical imperative or law of
+morality, the difficulty (of discerning its possibility) is a very
+profound one. It is an a priori synthetical practical proposition; <a class="note" id="cite6" href="#note6">6</a>
+and as there is so much difficulty in discerning the possibility of
+speculative propositions of this kind, it may readily be supposed that
+the difficulty will be no less with the practical.
+In this problem we will first inquire whether the mere conception of
+a categorical imperative may not perhaps supply us also with the
+formula of it, containing the proposition which alone can be a
+categorical imperative; for even if we know the tenor of such an
+absolute command, yet how it is possible will require further
+special and laborious study, which we postpone to the last section.
+When I conceive a hypothetical imperative, in general I do not
+know beforehand what it will contain until I am given the condition.
+But when I conceive a categorical imperative, I know at once what it
+contains. For as the imperative contains besides the law only the
+necessity that the maxims <a class="note" id="cite7" href="#note7">7</a> shall conform to this law, while the law
+contains no conditions restricting it, there remains nothing but the
+general statement that the maxim of the action should conform to a
+universal law, and it is this conformity alone that the imperative
+properly represents as necessary.
+There is therefore but one categorical imperative, namely, this: Act
+only on that maxim whereby thou canst at the same time will that it
+should become a universal law.
+Now if all imperatives of duty can be deduced from this one
+imperative as from their principle, then, although it should remain
+undecided what is called duty is not merely a vain notion, yet at
+least we shall be able to show what we understand by it and what
+this notion means.
+Since the universality of the law according to which effects are
+produced constitutes what is properly called nature in the most
+general sense (as to form), that is the existence of things so far
+as it is determined by general laws, the imperative of duty may be
+expressed thus: Act as if the maxim of thy action were to become by
+thy will a universal law of nature.
+We will now enumerate a few duties, adopting the usual division of
+them into duties to ourselves and ourselves and to others, and into
+perfect and imperfect duties. <a class="note" id="cite8" href="#note8">8</a>
+1. A man reduced to despair by a series of misfortunes feels wearied
+of life, but is still so far in possession of his reason that he can
+ask himself whether it would not be contrary to his duty to himself to
+take his own life. Now he inquires whether the maxim of his action
+could become a universal law of nature. His maxim is: "From
+self-love I adopt it as a principle to shorten my life when its longer
+duration is likely to bring more evil than satisfaction." It is
+asked then simply whether this principle founded on self-love can
+become a universal law of nature. Now we see at once that a system
+of nature of which it should be a law to destroy life by means of
+the very feeling whose special nature it is to impel to the
+improvement of life would contradict itself and, therefore, could
+not exist as a system of nature; hence that maxim cannot possibly
+exist as a universal law of nature and, consequently, would be
+wholly inconsistent with the supreme principle of all duty.
+2. Another finds himself forced by necessity to borrow money. He
+knows that he will not be able to repay it, but sees also that nothing
+will be lent to him unless he promises stoutly to repay it in a
+definite time. He desires to make this promise, but he has still so
+much conscience as to ask himself: "Is it not unlawful and
+inconsistent with duty to get out of a difficulty in this way?"
+Suppose however that he resolves to do so: then the maxim of his
+action would be expressed thus: "When I think myself in want of money,
+I will borrow money and promise to repay it, although I know that I
+never can do so." Now this principle of self-love or of one's own
+advantage may perhaps be consistent with my whole future welfare;
+but the question now is, "Is it right?" I change then the suggestion
+of self-love into a universal law, and state the question thus: "How
+would it be if my maxim were a universal law?" Then I see at once that
+it could never hold as a universal law of nature, but would
+necessarily contradict itself. For supposing it to be a universal
+law that everyone when he thinks himself in a difficulty should be
+able to promise whatever he pleases, with the purpose of not keeping
+his promise, the promise itself would become impossible, as well as
+the end that one might have in view in it, since no one would consider
+that anything was promised to him, but would ridicule all such
+statements as vain pretences.
+3. A third finds in himself a talent which with the help of some
+culture might make him a useful man in many respects. But he finds
+himself in comfortable circumstances and prefers to indulge in
+pleasure rather than to take pains in enlarging and improving his
+happy natural capacities. He asks, however, whether his maxim of
+neglect of his natural gifts, besides agreeing with his inclination to
+indulgence, agrees also with what is called duty. He sees then that
+a system of nature could indeed subsist with such a universal law
+although men (like the South Sea islanders) should let their talents
+rest and resolve to devote their lives merely to idleness,
+amusement, and propagation of their species- in a word, to
+enjoyment; but he cannot possibly will that this should be a universal
+law of nature, or be implanted in us as such by a natural instinct.
+For, as a rational being, he necessarily wills that his faculties be
+developed, since they serve him and have been given him, for all sorts
+of possible purposes.
+4. A fourth, who is in prosperity, while he sees that others have to
+contend with great wretchedness and that he could help them, thinks:
+"What concern is it of mine? Let everyone be as happy as Heaven
+pleases, or as he can make himself; I will take nothing from him nor
+even envy him, only I do not wish to contribute anything to his
+welfare or to his assistance in distress!" Now no doubt if such a mode
+of thinking were a universal law, the human race might very well
+subsist and doubtless even better than in a state in which everyone
+talks of sympathy and good-will, or even takes care occasionally to
+put it into practice, but, on the other side, also cheats when he can,
+betrays the rights of men, or otherwise violates them. But although it
+is possible that a universal law of nature might exist in accordance
+with that maxim, it is impossible to will that such a principle should
+have the universal validity of a law of nature. For a will which
+resolved this would contradict itself, inasmuch as many cases might
+occur in which one would have need of the love and sympathy of others,
+and in which, by such a law of nature, sprung from his own will, he
+would deprive himself of all hope of the aid he desires.
+These are a few of the many actual duties, or at least what we
+regard as such, which obviously fall into two classes on the one
+principle that we have laid down. We must be able to will that a maxim
+of our action should be a universal law. This is the canon of the
+moral appreciation of the action generally. Some actions are of such a
+character that their maxim cannot without contradiction be even
+conceived as a universal law of nature, far from it being possible
+that we should will that it should be so. In others this intrinsic
+impossibility is not found, but still it is impossible to will that
+their maxim should be raised to the universality of a law of nature,
+since such a will would contradict itself It is easily seen that the
+former violate strict or rigorous (inflexible) duty; the latter only
+laxer (meritorious) duty. Thus it has been completely shown how all
+duties depend as regards the nature of the obligation (not the
+object of the action) on the same principle.
+If now we attend to ourselves on occasion of any transgression of
+duty, we shall find that we in fact do not will that our maxim
+should be a universal law, for that is impossible for us; on the
+contrary, we will that the opposite should remain a universal law,
+only we assume the liberty of making an exception in our own favour or
+(just for this time only) in favour of our inclination. Consequently
+if we considered all cases from one and the same point of view,
+namely, that of reason, we should find a contradiction in our own
+will, namely, that a certain principle should be objectively necessary
+as a universal law, and yet subjectively should not be universal,
+but admit of exceptions. As however we at one moment regard our action
+from the point of view of a will wholly conformed to reason, and
+then again look at the same action from the point of view of a will
+affected by inclination, there is not really any contradiction, but an
+antagonism of inclination to the precept of reason, whereby the
+universality of the principle is changed into a mere generality, so
+that the practical principle of reason shall meet the maxim half
+way. Now, although this cannot be justified in our own impartial
+judgement, yet it proves that we do really recognise the validity of
+the categorical imperative and (with all respect for it) only allow
+ourselves a few exceptions, which we think unimportant and forced from
+We have thus established at least this much, that if duty is a
+conception which is to have any import and real legislative
+authority for our actions, it can only be expressed in categorical and
+not at all in hypothetical imperatives. We have also, which is of
+great importance, exhibited clearly and definitely for every practical
+application the content of the categorical imperative, which must
+contain the principle of all duty if there is such a thing at all.
+We have not yet, however, advanced so far as to prove a priori that
+there actually is such an imperative, that there is a practical law
+which commands absolutely of itself and without any other impulse, and
+that the following of this law is duty.
+With the view of attaining to this, it is of extreme importance to
+remember that we must not allow ourselves to think of deducing the
+reality of this principle from the particular attributes of human
+nature. For duty is to be a practical, unconditional necessity of
+action; it must therefore hold for all rational beings (to whom an
+imperative can apply at all), and for this reason only be also a law
+for all human wills. On the contrary, whatever is deduced from the
+particular natural characteristics of humanity, from certain
+feelings and propensions, nay, even, if possible, from any
+particular tendency proper to human reason, and which need not
+necessarily hold for the will of every rational being; this may indeed
+supply us with a maxim, but not with a law; with a subjective
+principle on which we may have a propension and inclination to act,
+but not with an objective principle on which we should be enjoined
+to act, even though all our propensions, inclinations, and natural
+dispositions were opposed to it. In fact, the sublimity and
+intrinsic dignity of the command in duty are so much the more evident,
+the less the subjective impulses favour it and the more they oppose
+it, without being able in the slightest degree to weaken the
+obligation of the law or to diminish its validity.
+Here then we see philosophy brought to a critical position, since it
+has to be firmly fixed, notwithstanding that it has nothing to support
+it in heaven or earth. Here it must show its purity as absolute
+director of its own laws, not the herald of those which are
+whispered to it by an implanted sense or who knows what tutelary
+nature. Although these may be better than nothing, yet they can
+never afford principles dictated by reason, which must have their
+source wholly a priori and thence their commanding authority,
+expecting everything from the supremacy of the law and the due respect
+for it, nothing from inclination, or else condemning the man to
+self-contempt and inward abhorrence.
+Thus every empirical element is not only quite incapable of being an
+aid to the principle of morality, but is even highly prejudicial to
+the purity of morals, for the proper and inestimable worth of an
+absolutely good will consists just in this, that the principle of
+action is free from all influence of contingent grounds, which alone
+experience can furnish. We cannot too much or too often repeat our
+warning against this lax and even mean habit of thought which seeks
+for its principle amongst empirical motives and laws; for human reason
+in its weariness is glad to rest on this pillow, and in a dream of
+sweet illusions (in which, instead of Juno, it embraces a cloud) it
+substitutes for morality a bastard patched up from limbs of various
+derivation, which looks like anything one chooses to see in it, only
+not like virtue to one who has once beheld her in her true form <a class="note" id="cite9" href="#note9">9</a>.
+The question then is this: "Is it a necessary law for all rational
+beings that they should always judge of their actions by maxims of
+which they can themselves will that they should serve as universal
+laws?" If it is so, then it must be connected (altogether a priori)
+with the very conception of the will of a rational being generally.
+But in order to discover this connexion we must, however
+reluctantly, take a step into metaphysic, although into a domain of it
+which is distinct from speculative philosophy, namely, the
+metaphysic of morals. In a practical philosophy, where it is not the
+reasons of what happens that we have to ascertain, but the laws of
+what ought to happen, even although it never does, i.e., objective
+practical laws, there it is not necessary to inquire into the
+reasons why anything pleases or displeases, how the pleasure of mere
+sensation differs from taste, and whether the latter is distinct
+from a general satisfaction of reason; on what the feeling of pleasure
+or pain rests, and how from it desires and inclinations arise, and
+from these again maxims by the co-operation of reason: for all this
+belongs to an empirical psychology, which would constitute the
+second part of physics, if we regard physics as the philosophy of
+nature, so far as it is based on empirical laws. But here we are
+concerned with objective practical laws and, consequently, with the
+relation of the will to itself so far as it is determined by reason
+alone, in which case whatever has reference to anything empirical is
+necessarily excluded; since if reason of itself alone determines the
+conduct (and it is the possibility of this that we are now
+investigating), it must necessarily do so a priori.
+The will is conceived as a faculty of determining oneself to
+action in accordance with the conception of certain laws. And such a
+faculty can be found only in rational beings. Now that which serves
+the will as the objective ground of its self-determination is the end,
+and, if this is assigned by reason alone, it must hold for all
+rational beings. On the other hand, that which merely contains the
+ground of possibility of the action of which the effect is the end,
+this is called the means. The subjective ground of the desire is the
+spring, the objective ground of the volition is the motive; hence
+the distinction between subjective ends which rest on springs, and
+objective ends which depend on motives valid for every rational being.
+Practical principles are formal when they abstract from all subjective
+ends; they are material when they assume these, and therefore
+particular springs of action. The ends which a rational being proposes
+to himself at pleasure as effects of his actions (material ends) are
+all only relative, for it is only their relation to the particular
+desires of the subject that gives them their worth, which therefore
+cannot furnish principles universal and necessary for all rational
+beings and for every volition, that is to say practical laws. Hence
+all these relative ends can give rise only to hypothetical
+Supposing, however, that there were something whose existence has in
+itself an absolute worth, something which, being an end in itself,
+could be a source of definite laws; then in this and this alone
+would lie the source of a possible categorical imperative, i.e., a
+practical law.
+Now I say: man and generally any rational being exists as an end
+in himself, not merely as a means to be arbitrarily used by this or
+that will, but in all his actions, whether they concern himself or
+other rational beings, must be always regarded at the same time as
+an end. All objects of the inclinations have only a conditional worth,
+for if the inclinations and the wants founded on them did not exist,
+then their object would be without value. But the inclinations,
+themselves being sources of want, are so far from having an absolute
+worth for which they should be desired that on the contrary it must be
+the universal wish of every rational being to be wholly free from
+them. Thus the worth of any object which is to be acquired by our
+action is always conditional. Beings whose existence depends not on
+our will but on nature's, have nevertheless, if they are irrational
+beings, only a relative value as means, and are therefore called
+things; rational beings, on the contrary, are called persons,
+because their very nature points them out as ends in themselves,
+that is as something which must not be used merely as means, and so
+far therefore restricts freedom of action (and is an object of
+respect). These, therefore, are not merely subjective ends whose
+existence has a worth for us as an effect of our action, but objective
+ends, that is, things whose existence is an end in itself; an end
+moreover for which no other can be substituted, which they should
+subserve merely as means, for otherwise nothing whatever would possess
+absolute worth; but if all worth were conditioned and therefore
+contingent, then there would be no supreme practical principle of
+reason whatever.
+If then there is a supreme practical principle or, in respect of the
+human will, a categorical imperative, it must be one which, being
+drawn from the conception of that which is necessarily an end for
+everyone because it is an end in itself, constitutes an objective
+principle of will, and can therefore serve as a universal practical
+law. The foundation of this principle is: rational nature exists as an
+end in itself. Man necessarily conceives his own existence as being
+so; so far then this is a subjective principle of human actions. But
+every other rational being regards its existence similarly, just on
+the same rational principle that holds for me: <a class="note" id="cite10" href="#note10">10</a> so that it is at the
+same time an objective principle, from which as a supreme practical
+law all laws of the will must be capable of being deduced. Accordingly
+the practical imperative will be as follows: So act as to treat
+humanity, whether in thine own person or in that of any other, in
+every case as an end withal, never as means only. We will now
+inquire whether this can be practically carried out.
+* This proposition is here stated as a postulate. The ground of it
+will be found in the concluding section.
+To abide by the previous examples:
+Firstly, under the head of necessary duty to oneself: He who
+contemplates suicide should ask himself whether his action can be
+consistent with the idea of humanity as an end in itself. If he
+destroys himself in order to escape from painful circumstances, he
+uses a person merely as a mean to maintain a tolerable condition up to
+the end of life. But a man is not a thing, that is to say, something
+which can be used merely as means, but must in all his actions be
+always considered as an end in himself. I cannot, therefore, dispose
+in any way of a man in my own person so as to mutilate him, to
+damage or kill him. (It belongs to ethics proper to define this
+principle more precisely, so as to avoid all misunderstanding, e.
+g., as to the amputation of the limbs in order to preserve myself,
+as to exposing my life to danger with a view to preserve it, etc. This
+question is therefore omitted here.)
+Secondly, as regards necessary duties, or those of strict
+obligation, towards others: He who is thinking of making a lying
+promise to others will see at once that he would be using another
+man merely as a mean, without the latter containing at the same time
+the end in himself. For he whom I propose by such a promise to use for
+my own purposes cannot possibly assent to my mode of acting towards
+him and, therefore, cannot himself contain the end of this action.
+This violation of the principle of humanity in other men is more
+obvious if we take in examples of attacks on the freedom and
+property of others. For then it is clear that he who transgresses
+the rights of men intends to use the person of others merely as a
+means, without considering that as rational beings they ought always
+to be esteemed also as ends, that is, as beings who must be capable of
+containing in themselves the end of the very same action. <a class="note" id="cite11" href="#note11">11</a>
+* Let it not be thought that the common "quod tibi non vis fieri,
+etc." could serve here as the rule or principle. For it is only a
+deduction from the former, though with several limitations; it
+cannot be a universal law, for it does not contain the principle of
+duties to oneself, nor of the duties of benevolence to others (for
+many a one would gladly consent that others should not benefit him,
+provided only that he might be excused from showing benevolence to
+them), nor finally that of duties of strict obligation to one another,
+for on this principle the criminal might argue against the judge who
+punishes him, and so on.
+Thirdly, as regards contingent (meritorious) duties to oneself: It
+is not enough that the action does not violate humanity in our own
+person as an end in itself, it must also harmonize with it. Now
+there are in humanity capacities of greater perfection, which belong
+to the end that nature has in view in regard to humanity in
+ourselves as the subject: to neglect these might perhaps be consistent
+with the maintenance of humanity as an end in itself, but not with the
+advancement of this end.
+Fourthly, as regards meritorious duties towards others: The
+natural end which all men have is their own happiness. Now humanity
+might indeed subsist, although no one should contribute anything to
+the happiness of others, provided he did not intentionally withdraw
+anything from it; but after all this would only harmonize negatively
+not positively with humanity as an end in itself, if every one does
+not also endeavour, as far as in him lies, to forward the ends of
+others. For the ends of any subject which is an end in himself ought
+as far as possible to be my ends also, if that conception is to have
+its full effect with me.
+This principle, that humanity and generally every rational nature is
+an end in itself (which is the supreme limiting condition of every
+man's freedom of action), is not borrowed from experience, firstly,
+because it is universal, applying as it does to all rational beings
+whatever, and experience is not capable of determining anything
+about them; secondly, because it does not present humanity as an end
+to men (subjectively), that is as an object which men do of themselves
+actually adopt as an end; but as an objective end, which must as a law
+constitute the supreme limiting condition of all our subjective
+ends, let them be what we will; it must therefore spring from pure
+reason. In fact the objective principle of all practical legislation
+lies (according to the first principle) in the rule and its form of
+universality which makes it capable of being a law (say, e. g., a
+law of nature); but the subjective principle is in the end; now by the
+second principle the subject of all ends is each rational being,
+inasmuch as it is an end in itself. Hence follows the third
+practical principle of the will, which is the ultimate condition of
+its harmony with universal practical reason, viz.: the idea of the
+will of every rational being as a universally legislative will.
+On this principle all maxims are rejected which are inconsistent
+with the will being itself universal legislator. Thus the will is
+not subject simply to the law, but so subject that it must be regarded
+as itself giving the law and, on this ground only, subject to the
+law (of which it can regard itself as the author).
+In the previous imperatives, namely, that based on the conception of
+the conformity of actions to general laws, as in a physical system
+of nature, and that based on the universal prerogative of rational
+beings as ends in themselves- these imperatives, just because they
+were conceived as categorical, excluded from any share in their
+authority all admixture of any interest as a spring of action; they
+were, however, only assumed to be categorical, because such an
+assumption was necessary to explain the conception of duty. But we
+could not prove independently that there are practical propositions
+which command categorically, nor can it be proved in this section; one
+thing, however, could be done, namely, to indicate in the imperative
+itself, by some determinate expression, that in the case of volition
+from duty all interest is renounced, which is the specific criterion
+of categorical as distinguished from hypothetical imperatives. This is
+done in the present (third) formula of the principle, namely, in the
+idea of the will of every rational being as a universally
+legislating will.
+For although a will which is subject to laws may be attached to this
+law by means of an interest, yet a will which is itself a supreme
+lawgiver so far as it is such cannot possibly depend on any
+interest, since a will so dependent would itself still need another
+law restricting the interest of its self-love by the condition that it
+should be valid as universal law.
+Thus the principle that every human will is a will which in all
+its maxims gives universal laws, <a class="note" id="cite12" href="#note12">12</a> provided it be otherwise
+justified, would be very well adapted to be the categorical
+imperative, in this respect, namely, that just because of the idea
+of universal legislation it is not based on interest, and therefore it
+alone among all possible imperatives can be unconditional. Or still
+better, converting the proposition, if there is a categorical
+imperative (i.e., a law for the will of every rational being), it
+can only command that everything be done from maxims of one's will
+regarded as a will which could at the same time will that it should
+itself give universal laws, for in that case only the practical
+principle and the imperative which it obeys are unconditional, since
+they cannot be based on any interest.
+* I may be excused from adducing examples to elucidate this
+principle, as those which have already been used to elucidate the
+categorical imperative and its formula would all serve for the like
+purpose here.
+Looking back now on all previous attempts to discover the
+principle of morality, we need not wonder why they all failed. It
+was seen that man was bound to laws by duty, but it was not observed
+that the laws to which he is subject are only those of his own giving,
+though at the same time they are universal, and that he is only
+bound to act in conformity with his own will; a will, however, which
+is designed by nature to give universal laws. For when one has
+conceived man only as subject to a law (no matter what), then this law
+required some interest, either by way of attraction or constraint,
+since it did not originate as a law from his own will, but this will
+was according to a law obliged by something else to act in a certain
+manner. Now by this necessary consequence all the labour spent in
+finding a supreme principle of duty was irrevocably lost. For men
+never elicited duty, but only a necessity of acting from a certain
+interest. Whether this interest was private or otherwise, in any
+case the imperative must be conditional and could not by any means
+be capable of being a moral command. I will therefore call this the
+principle of autonomy of the will, in contrast with every other
+which I accordingly reckon as heteronomy.
+The conception of the will of every rational being as one which must
+consider itself as giving in all the maxims of its will universal
+laws, so as to judge itself and its actions from this point of view-
+this conception leads to another which depends on it and is very
+fruitful, namely that of a kingdom of ends.
+By a kingdom I understand the union of different rational beings
+in a system by common laws. Now since it is by laws that ends are
+determined as regards their universal validity, hence, if we
+abstract from the personal differences of rational beings and likewise
+from all the content of their private ends, we shall be able to
+conceive all ends combined in a systematic whole (including both
+rational beings as ends in themselves, and also the special ends which
+each may propose to himself), that is to say, we can conceive a
+kingdom of ends, which on the preceding principles is possible.
+For all rational beings come under the law that each of them must
+treat itself and all others never merely as means, but in every case
+at the same time as ends in themselves. Hence results a systematic
+union of rational being by common objective laws, i.e., a kingdom
+which may be called a kingdom of ends, since what these laws have in
+view is just the relation of these beings to one another as ends and
+means. It is certainly only an ideal.
+A rational being belongs as a member to the kingdom of ends when,
+although giving universal laws in it, he is also himself subject to
+these laws. He belongs to it as sovereign when, while giving laws,
+he is not subject to the will of any other.
+A rational being must always regard himself as giving laws either as
+member or as sovereign in a kingdom of ends which is rendered possible
+by the freedom of will. He cannot, however, maintain the latter
+position merely by the maxims of his will, but only in case he is a
+completely independent being without wants and with unrestricted power
+adequate to his will.
+Morality consists then in the reference of all action to the
+legislation which alone can render a kingdom of ends possible. This
+legislation must be capable of existing in every rational being and of
+emanating from his will, so that the principle of this will is never
+to act on any maxim which could not without contradiction be also a
+universal law and, accordingly, always so to act that the will could
+at the same time regard itself as giving in its maxims universal laws.
+If now the maxims of rational beings are not by their own nature
+coincident with this objective principle, then the necessity of acting
+on it is called practical necessitation, i.e., duty. Duty does not
+apply to the sovereign in the kingdom of ends, but it does to every
+member of it and to all in the same degree.
+The practical necessity of acting on this principle, i.e., duty,
+does not rest at all on feelings, impulses, or inclinations, but
+solely on the relation of rational beings to one another, a relation
+in which the will of a rational being must always be regarded as
+legislative, since otherwise it could not be conceived as an end in
+itself. Reason then refers every maxim of the will, regarding it as
+legislating universally, to every other will and also to every
+action towards oneself; and this not on account of any other practical
+motive or any future advantage, but from the idea of the dignity of
+a rational being, obeying no law but that which he himself also gives.
+In the kingdom of ends everything has either value or dignity.
+Whatever has a value can be replaced by something else which is
+equivalent; whatever, on the other hand, is above all value, and
+therefore admits of no equivalent, has a dignity.
+Whatever has reference to the general inclinations and wants of
+mankind has a market value; whatever, without presupposing a want,
+corresponds to a certain taste, that is to a satisfaction in the
+mere purposeless play of our faculties, has a fancy value; but that
+which constitutes the condition under which alone anything can be an
+end in itself, this has not merely a relative worth, i.e., value,
+but an intrinsic worth, that is, dignity.
+Now morality is the condition under which alone a rational being can
+be an end in himself, since by this alone is it possible that he
+should be a legislating member in the kingdom of ends. Thus
+morality, and humanity as capable of it, is that which alone has
+dignity. Skill and diligence in labour have a market value; wit,
+lively imagination, and humour, have fancy value; on the other hand,
+fidelity to promises, benevolence from principle (not from
+instinct), have an intrinsic worth. Neither nature nor art contains
+anything which in default of these it could put in their place, for
+their worth consists not in the effects which spring from them, not in
+the use and advantage which they secure, but in the disposition of
+mind, that is, the maxims of the will which are ready to manifest
+themselves in such actions, even though they should not have the
+desired effect. These actions also need no recommendation from any
+subjective taste or sentiment, that they may be looked on with
+immediate favour and satisfaction: they need no immediate propension
+or feeling for them; they exhibit the will that performs them as an
+object of an immediate respect, and nothing but reason is required
+to impose them on the will; not to flatter it into them, which, in the
+case of duties, would be a contradiction. This estimation therefore
+shows that the worth of such a disposition is dignity, and places it
+infinitely above all value, with which it cannot for a moment be
+brought into comparison or competition without as it were violating
+its sanctity.
+What then is it which justifies virtue or the morally good
+disposition, in making such lofty claims? It is nothing less than
+the privilege it secures to the rational being of participating in the
+giving of universal laws, by which it qualifies him to be a member
+of a possible kingdom of ends, a privilege to which he was already
+destined by his own nature as being an end in himself and, on that
+account, legislating in the kingdom of ends; free as regards all
+laws of physical nature, and obeying those only which he himself
+gives, and by which his maxims can belong to a system of universal
+law, to which at the same time he submits himself. For nothing has any
+worth except what the law assigns it. Now the legislation itself which
+assigns the worth of everything must for that very reason possess
+dignity, that is an unconditional incomparable worth; and the word
+respect alone supplies a becoming expression for the esteem which a
+rational being must have for it. Autonomy then is the basis of the
+dignity of human and of every rational nature.
+The three modes of presenting the principle of morality that have
+been adduced are at bottom only so many formulae of the very same law,
+and each of itself involves the other two. There is, however, a
+difference in them, but it is rather subjectively than objectively
+practical, intended namely to bring an idea of the reason nearer to
+intuition (by means of a certain analogy) and thereby nearer to
+feeling. All maxims, in fact, have:
+1. A form, consisting in universality; and in this view the
+formula of the moral imperative is expressed thus, that the maxims
+must be so chosen as if they were to serve as universal laws of
+2. A matter, namely, an end, and here the formula says that the
+rational being, as it is an end by its own nature and therefore an end
+in itself, must in every maxim serve as the condition limiting all
+merely relative and arbitrary ends.
+3. A complete characterization of all maxims by means of that
+formula, namely, that all maxims ought by their own legislation to
+harmonize with a possible kingdom of ends as with a kingdom of
+nature. <a class="note" id="cite13" href="#note13">13</a> There is a progress here in the order of the categories of
+unity of the form of the will (its universality), plurality of the
+matter (the objects, i.e., the ends), and totality of the system of
+these. In forming our moral judgement of actions, it is better to
+proceed always on the strict method and start from the general formula
+of the categorical imperative: Act according to a maxim which can at
+the same time make itself a universal law. If, however, we wish to
+gain an entrance for the moral law, it is very useful to bring one and
+the same action under the three specified conceptions, and thereby
+as far as possible to bring it nearer to intuition.
+* Teleology considers nature as a kingdom of ends; ethics regards a
+possible kingdom of ends as a kingdom nature. In the first case, the
+kingdom of ends is a theoretical idea, adopted to explain what
+actually is. In the latter it is a practical idea, adopted to bring
+about that which is not yet, but which can be realized by our conduct,
+namely, if it conforms to this idea.
+We can now end where we started at the beginning, namely, with the
+conception of a will unconditionally good. That will is absolutely
+good which cannot be evil- in other words, whose maxim, if made a
+universal law, could never contradict itself. This principle, then, is
+its supreme law: "Act always on such a maxim as thou canst at the same
+time will to be a universal law"; this is the sole condition under
+which a will can never contradict itself; and such an imperative is
+categorical. Since the validity of the will as a universal law for
+possible actions is analogous to the universal connexion of the
+existence of things by general laws, which is the formal notion of
+nature in general, the categorical imperative can also be expressed
+thus: Act on maxims which can at the same time have for their object
+themselves as universal laws of nature. Such then is the formula of an
+absolutely good will.
+Rational nature is distinguished from the rest of nature by this,
+that it sets before itself an end. This end would be the matter of
+every good will. But since in the idea of a will that is absolutely
+good without being limited by any condition (of attaining this or that
+end) we must abstract wholly from every end to be effected (since this
+would make every will only relatively good), it follows that in this
+case the end must be conceived, not as an end to be effected, but as
+an independently existing end. Consequently it is conceived only
+negatively, i.e., as that which we must never act against and which,
+therefore, must never be regarded merely as means, but must in every
+volition be esteemed as an end likewise. Now this end can be nothing
+but the subject of all possible ends, since this is also the subject
+of a possible absolutely good will; for such a will cannot without
+contradiction be postponed to any other object. The principle: "So act
+in regard to every rational being (thyself and others), that he may
+always have place in thy maxim as an end in himself," is accordingly
+essentially identical with this other: "Act upon a maxim which, at the
+same time, involves its own universal validity for every rational
+being." For that in using means for every end I should limit my
+maxim by the condition of its holding good as a law for every subject,
+this comes to the same thing as that the fundamental principle of
+all maxims of action must be that the subject of all ends, i.e., the
+rational being himself, be never employed merely as means, but as
+the supreme condition restricting the use of all means, that is in
+every case as an end likewise.
+It follows incontestably that, to whatever laws any rational being
+may be subject, he being an end in himself must be able to regard
+himself as also legislating universally in respect of these same laws,
+since it is just this fitness of his maxims for universal
+legislation that distinguishes him as an end in himself; also it
+follows that this implies his dignity (prerogative) above all mere
+physical beings, that he must always take his maxims from the point of
+view which regards himself and, likewise, every other rational being
+as law-giving beings (on which account they are called persons). In
+this way a world of rational beings (mundus intelligibilis) is
+possible as a kingdom of ends, and this by virtue of the legislation
+proper to all persons as members. Therefore every rational being
+must so act as if he were by his maxims in every case a legislating
+member in the universal kingdom of ends. The formal principle of these
+maxims is: "So act as if thy maxim were to serve likewise as the
+universal law (of all rational beings)." A kingdom of ends is thus
+only possible on the analogy of a kingdom of nature, the former
+however only by maxims, that is self-imposed rules, the latter only by
+the laws of efficient causes acting under necessitation from
+without. Nevertheless, although the system of nature is looked upon as
+a machine, yet so far as it has reference to rational beings as its
+ends, it is given on this account the name of a kingdom of nature. Now
+such a kingdom of ends would be actually realized by means of maxims
+conforming to the canon which the categorical imperative prescribes to
+all rational beings, if they were universally followed. But although a
+rational being, even if he punctually follows this maxim himself,
+cannot reckon upon all others being therefore true to the same, nor
+expect that the kingdom of nature and its orderly arrangements shall
+be in harmony with him as a fitting member, so as to form a kingdom of
+ends to which he himself contributes, that is to say, that it shall
+favour his expectation of happiness, still that law: "Act according to
+the maxims of a member of a merely possible kingdom of ends
+legislating in it universally," remains in its full force, inasmuch as
+it commands categorically. And it is just in this that the paradox
+lies; that the mere dignity of man as a rational creature, without any
+other end or advantage to be attained thereby, in other words, respect
+for a mere idea, should yet serve as an inflexible precept of the
+will, and that it is precisely in this independence of the maxim on
+all such springs of action that its sublimity consists; and it is this
+that makes every rational subject worthy to be a legislative member in
+the kingdom of ends: for otherwise he would have to be conceived
+only as subject to the physical law of his wants. And although we
+should suppose the kingdom of nature and the kingdom of ends to be
+united under one sovereign, so that the latter kingdom thereby
+ceased to be a mere idea and acquired true reality, then it would no
+doubt gain the accession of a strong spring, but by no means any
+increase of its intrinsic worth. For this sole absolute lawgiver must,
+notwithstanding this, be always conceived as estimating the worth of
+rational beings only by their disinterested behaviour, as prescribed
+to themselves from that idea [the dignity of man] alone. The essence
+of things is not altered by their external relations, and that
+which, abstracting from these, alone constitutes the absolute worth of
+man, is also that by which he must be judged, whoever the judge may
+be, and even by the Supreme Being. Morality, then, is the relation
+of actions to the relation of actions will, that is, to the autonomy
+of potential universal legislation by its maxims. An action that is
+consistent with the autonomy of the will is permitted; one that does
+not agree therewith is forbidden. A will whose maxims necessarily
+coincide with the laws of autonomy is a holy will, good absolutely.
+The dependence of a will not absolutely good on the principle of
+autonomy (moral necessitation) is obligation. This, then, cannot be
+applied to a holy being. The objective necessity of actions from
+obligation is called duty.
+From what has just been said, it is easy to see how it happens that,
+although the conception of duty implies subjection to the law, we
+yet ascribe a certain dignity and sublimity to the person who
+fulfils all his duties. There is not, indeed, any sublimity in him, so
+far as he is subject to the moral law; but inasmuch as in regard to
+that very law he is likewise a legislator, and on that account alone
+subject to it, he has sublimity. We have also shown above that neither
+fear nor inclination, but simply respect for the law, is the spring
+which can give actions a moral worth. Our own will, so far as we
+suppose it to act only under the condition that its maxims are
+potentially universal laws, this ideal will which is possible to us is
+the proper object of respect; and the dignity of humanity consists
+just in this capacity of being universally legislative, though with
+the condition that it is itself subject to this same legislation.
+The Autonomy of the Will as the Supreme Principle of Morality
+Autonomy of the will is that property of it by which it is a law
+to itself (independently of any property of the objects of
+volition). The principle of autonomy then is: "Always so to choose
+that the same volition shall comprehend the maxims of our choice as
+a universal law." We cannot prove that this practical rule is an
+imperative, i.e., that the will of every rational being is necessarily
+bound to it as a condition, by a mere analysis of the conceptions
+which occur in it, since it is a synthetical proposition; we must
+advance beyond the cognition of the objects to a critical
+examination of the subject, that is, of the pure practical reason, for
+this synthetic proposition which commands apodeictically must be
+capable of being cognized wholly a priori. This matter, however,
+does not belong to the present section. But that the principle of
+autonomy in question is the sole principle of morals can be readily
+shown by mere analysis of the conceptions of morality. For by this
+analysis we find that its principle must be a categorical imperative
+and that what this commands is neither more nor less than this very
+Heteronomy of the Will as the Source of all spurious Principles
+ of Morality
+If the will seeks the law which is to determine it anywhere else
+than in the fitness of its maxims to be universal laws of its own
+dictation, consequently if it goes out of itself and seeks this law in
+the character of any of its objects, there always results
+heteronomy. The will in that case does not give itself the law, but it
+is given by the object through its relation to the will. This
+relation, whether it rests on inclination or on conceptions of reason,
+only admits of hypothetical imperatives: "I ought to do something
+because I wish for something else." On the contrary, the moral, and
+therefore categorical, imperative says: "I ought to do so and so, even
+though I should not wish for anything else." E.g., the former says: "I
+ought not to lie, if I would retain my reputation"; the latter says:
+"I ought not to lie, although it should not bring me the least
+discredit." The latter therefore must so far abstract from all objects
+that they shall have no influence on the will, in order that practical
+reason (will) may not be restricted to administering an interest not
+belonging to it, but may simply show its own commanding authority as
+the supreme legislation. Thus, e.g., I ought to endeavour to promote
+the happiness of others, not as if its realization involved any
+concern of mine (whether by immediate inclination or by any
+satisfaction indirectly gained through reason), but simply because a
+maxim which excludes it cannot be comprehended as a universal law in
+one and the same volition.
+ Classification of all Principles of Morality which can be
+ founded on the Conception of Heteronomy
+Here as elsewhere human reason in its pure use, so long as it was
+not critically examined, has first tried all possible wrong ways
+before it succeeded in finding the one true way.
+All principles which can be taken from this point of view are either
+empirical or rational. The former, drawn from the principle of
+happiness, are built on physical or moral feelings; the latter,
+drawn from the principle of perfection, are built either on the
+rational conception of perfection as a possible effect, or on that
+of an independent perfection (the will of God) as the determining
+cause of our will.
+Empirical principles are wholly incapable of serving as a foundation
+for moral laws. For the universality with which these should hold
+for all rational beings without distinction, the unconditional
+practical necessity which is thereby imposed on them, is lost when
+their foundation is taken from the particular constitution of human
+nature, or the accidental circumstances in which it is placed. The
+principle of private happiness, however, is the most objectionable,
+not merely because it is false, and experience contradicts the
+supposition that prosperity is always proportioned to good conduct,
+nor yet merely because it contributes nothing to the establishment
+of morality- since it is quite a different thing to make a
+prosperous man and a good man, or to make one prudent and
+sharp-sighted for his own interests and to make him virtuous- but
+because the springs it provides for morality are such as rather
+undermine it and destroy its sublimity, since they put the motives
+to virtue and to vice in the same class and only teach us to make a
+better calculation, the specific difference between virtue and vice
+being entirely extinguished. On the other hand, as to moral feeling,
+this supposed special sense, <a class="note" id="cite14" href="#note14">14</a> the appeal to it is indeed superficial
+when those who cannot think believe that feeling will help them out,
+even in what concerns general laws: and besides, feelings, which
+naturally differ infinitely in degree, cannot furnish a uniform
+standard of good and evil, nor has anyone a right to form judgements
+for others by his own feelings: nevertheless this moral feeling is
+nearer to morality and its dignity in this respect, that it pays
+virtue the honour of ascribing to her immediately the satisfaction and
+esteem we have for her and does not, as it were, tell her to her
+face that we are not attached to her by her beauty but by profit.
+* I class the principle of moral feeling under that of happiness,
+because every empirical interest promises to contribute to our
+well-being by the agreeableness that a thing affords, whether it be
+immediately and without a view to profit, or whether profit be
+regarded. We must likewise, with Hutcheson, class the principle of
+sympathy with the happiness of others under his assumed moral sense.
+Amongst the rational principles of morality, the ontological
+conception of perfection, notwithstanding its defects, is better
+than the theological conception which derives morality from a Divine
+absolutely perfect will. The former is, no doubt, empty and indefinite
+and consequently useless for finding in the boundless field of
+possible reality the greatest amount suitable for us; moreover, in
+attempting to distinguish specifically the reality of which we are now
+speaking from every other, it inevitably tends to turn in a circle and
+cannot avoid tacitly presupposing the morality which it is to explain;
+it is nevertheless preferable to the theological view, first,
+because we have no intuition of the divine perfection and can only
+deduce it from our own conceptions, the most important of which is
+that of morality, and our explanation would thus be involved in a
+gross circle; and, in the next place, if we avoid this, the only
+notion of the Divine will remaining to us is a conception made up of
+the attributes of desire of glory and dominion, combined with the
+awful conceptions of might and vengeance, and any system of morals
+erected on this foundation would be directly opposed to morality.
+However, if I had to choose between the notion of the moral sense
+and that of perfection in general (two systems which at least do not
+weaken morality, although they are totally incapable of serving as its
+foundation), then I should decide for the latter, because it at
+least withdraws the decision of the question from the sensibility
+and brings it to the court of pure reason; and although even here it
+decides nothing, it at all events preserves the indefinite idea (of
+a will good in itself free from corruption, until it shall be more
+precisely defined.
+For the rest I think I may be excused here from a detailed
+refutation of all these doctrines; that would only be superfluous
+labour, since it is so easy, and is probably so well seen even by
+those whose office requires them to decide for one of these theories
+(because their hearers would not tolerate suspension of judgement).
+But what interests us more here is to know that the prime foundation
+of morality laid down by all these principles is nothing but
+heteronomy of the will, and for this reason they must necessarily miss
+their aim.
+In every case where an object of the will has to be supposed, in
+order that the rule may be prescribed which is to determine the
+will, there the rule is simply heteronomy; the imperative is
+conditional, namely, if or because one wishes for this object, one
+should act so and so: hence it can never command morally, that is,
+categorically. Whether the object determines the will by means of
+inclination, as in the principle of private happiness, or by means
+of reason directed to objects of our possible volition generally, as
+in the principle of perfection, in either case the will never
+determines itself immediately by the conception of the action, but
+only by the influence which the foreseen effect of the action has on
+the will; I ought to do something, on this account, because I wish for
+something else; and here there must be yet another law assumed in me
+as its subject, by which I necessarily will this other thing, and this
+law again requires an imperative to restrict this maxim. For the
+influence which the conception of an object within the reach of our
+faculties can exercise on the will of the subject, in consequence of
+its natural properties, depends on the nature of the subject, either
+the sensibility (inclination and taste), or the understanding and
+reason, the employment of which is by the peculiar constitution of
+their nature attended with satisfaction. It follows that the law would
+be, properly speaking, given by nature, and, as such, it must be known
+and proved by experience and would consequently be contingent and
+therefore incapable of being an apodeictic practical rule, such as the
+moral rule must be. Not only so, but it is inevitably only heteronomy;
+the will does not give itself the law, but is given by a foreign
+impulse by means of a particular natural constitution of the subject
+adapted to receive it. An absolutely good will, then, the principle of
+which must be a categorical imperative, will be indeterminate as
+regards all objects and will contain merely the form of volition
+generally, and that as autonomy, that is to say, the capability of the
+maxims of every good will to make themselves a universal law, is
+itself the only law which the will of every rational being imposes
+on itself, without needing to assume any spring or interest as a
+How such a synthetical practical a priori proposition is possible,
+and why it is necessary, is a problem whose solution does not lie
+within the bounds of the metaphysic of morals; and we have not here
+affirmed its truth, much less professed to have a proof of it in our
+power. We simply showed by the development of the universally received
+notion of morality that an autonomy of the will is inevitably
+connected with it, or rather is its foundation. Whoever then holds
+morality to be anything real, and not a chimerical idea without any
+truth, must likewise admit the principle of it that is here
+assigned. This section then, like the first, was merely analytical.
+Now to prove that morality is no creation of the brain, which it
+cannot be if the categorical imperative and with it the autonomy of
+the will is true, and as an a priori principle absolutely necessary,
+this supposes the possibility of a synthetic use of pure practical
+reason, which however we cannot venture on without first giving a
+critical examination of this faculty of reason. In the concluding
+section we shall give the principal outlines of this critical
+examination as far as is sufficient for our purpose.
+ <p>Continue to the third section: <a href="/kant/groundwork_of_the_metaphysic_of_morals/section_three.html">Transition from the metaphysics of morals to the critique of the pure practical reason.</a>.</p>
+ <h3>Footnotes</h3>
+ <ol id="notes">
+ <li id="note1">
+ Just as pure mathematics are distinguished from applied, pure
+ logic from applied, so if we choose we may also distinguish pure
+ philosophy of morals (metaphysic) from applied (viz., applied to human
+ nature). By this designation we are also at once reminded that moral
+ principles are not based on properties of human nature, but must
+ subsist a priori of themselves, while from such principles practical
+ rules must be capable of being deduced for every rational nature,
+ and accordingly for that of man.
+ <a href="#cite1" title="Jump back to footnote 1 in the text">&#x21A9;</a>
+ </li>
+ <li id="note2">
+ I have a letter from the late excellent Sulzer, in which he asks
+ me what can be the reason that moral instruction, although containing
+ much that is convincing for the reason, yet accomplishes so little? My
+ answer was postponed in order that I might make it complete. But it is
+ simply this: that the teachers themselves have not got their own
+ notions clear, and when they endeavour to make up for this by raking
+ up motives of moral goodness from every quarter, trying to make
+ their physic right strong, they spoil it. For the commonest
+ understanding shows that if we imagine, on the one hand, an act of
+ honesty done with steadfast mind, apart from every view to advantage
+ of any kind in this world or another, and even under the greatest
+ temptations of necessity or allurement, and, on the other hand, a
+ similar act which was affected, in however low a degree, by a
+ foreign motive, the former leaves far behind and eclipses the
+ second; it elevates the soul and inspires the wish to be able to act
+ in like manner oneself. Even moderately young children feel this
+ impression, ana one should never represent duties to them in any other
+ light.
+ <a href="#cite2" title="Jump back to footnote 2 in the text">&#x21A9;</a>
+ </li>
+ <li id="note3">
+ The dependence of the desires on sensations is called
+ inclination, and this accordingly always indicates a want. The
+ dependence of a contingently determinable will on principles of reason
+ is called an interest. This therefore, is found only in the case of
+ a dependent will which does not always of itself conform to reason; in
+ the Divine will we cannot conceive any interest. But the human will
+ can also take an interest in a thing without therefore acting from
+ interest. The former signifies the practical interest in the action,
+ the latter the pathological in the object of the action. The former
+ indicates only dependence of the will on principles of reason in
+ themselves; the second, dependence on principles of reason for the
+ sake of inclination, reason supplying only the practical rules how the
+ requirement of the inclination may be satisfied. In the first case the
+ action interests me; in the second the object of the action (because
+ it is pleasant to me). We have seen in the first section that in an
+ action done from duty we must look not to the interest in the
+ object, but only to that in the action itself, and in its rational
+ principle (viz., the law).
+ <a href="#cite3" title="Jump back to footnote 3 in the text">&#x21A9;</a>
+ </li>
+ <li id="note4">
+* The word prudence is taken in two senses: in the one it may bear
+the name of knowledge of the world, in the other that of private
+prudence. The former is a man's ability to influence others so as to
+use them for his own purposes. The latter is the sagacity to combine
+all these purposes for his own lasting benefit. This latter is
+properly that to which the value even of the former is reduced, and
+when a man is prudent in the former sense, but not in the latter, we
+might better say of him that he is clever and cunning, but, on the
+whole, imprudent.
+ <a href="#cite4" title="Jump back to footnote 4 in the text">&#x21A9;</a>
+ </li>
+ <li id="note5">
+* It seems to me that the proper signification of the word
+pragmatic may be most accurately defined in this way. For sanctions
+are called pragmatic which flow properly not from the law of the
+states as necessary enactments, but from precaution for the general
+welfare. A history is composed pragmatically when it teaches prudence,
+i.e., instructs the world how it can provide for its interests better,
+or at least as well as, the men of former time.
+ <a href="#cite5" title="Jump back to footnote 5 in the text">&#x21A9;</a>
+ </li>
+ <li id="note6">
+* I connect the act with the will without presupposing any
+condition resulting from any inclination, but a priori, and
+therefore necessarily (though only objectively, i.e., assuming the
+idea of a reason possessing full power over all subjective motives).
+This is accordingly a practical proposition which does not deduce
+the willing of an action by mere analysis from another already
+presupposed (for we have not such a perfect will), but connects it
+immediately with the conception of the will of a rational being, as
+something not contained in it.
+ <a href="#cite6" title="Jump back to footnote 6 in the text">&#x21A9;</a>
+ </li>
+ <li id="note7">
+* A maxim is a subjective principle of action, and must be
+distinguished from the objective principle, namely, practical law. The
+former contains the practical rule set by reason according to the
+conditions of the subject (often its ignorance or its inclinations),
+so that it is the principle on which the subject acts; but the law
+is the objective principle valid for every rational being, and is
+the principle on which it ought to act that is an imperative.
+ <a href="#cite7" title="Jump back to footnote 7 in the text">&#x21A9;</a>
+ </li>
+ <li id="note8">
+* It must be noted here that I reserve the division of duties for a
+future metaphysic of morals; so that I give it here only as an
+arbitrary one (in order to arrange my examples). For the rest, I
+understand by a perfect duty one that admits no exception in favour of
+inclination and then I have not merely external but also internal
+perfect duties. This is contrary to the use of the word adopted in the
+schools; but I do not intend to justify there, as it is all one for my
+purpose whether it is admitted or not.
+ <a href="#cite8" title="Jump back to footnote 8 in the text">&#x21A9;</a>
+ </li>
+ <li id="note9">
+* To behold virtue in her proper form is nothing else but to
+contemplate morality stripped of all admixture of sensible things
+and of every spurious ornament of reward or self-love. How much she
+then eclipses everything else that appears charming to the affections,
+every one may readily perceive with the least exertion of his
+reason, if it be not wholly spoiled for abstraction.
+ <a href="#cite9" title="Jump back to footnote 9 in the text">&#x21A9;</a>
+ </li>
+ <li id="note10">
+ <a href="#cite10" title="Jump back to footnote 10 in the text">&#x21A9;</a>
+ </li>
+ <li id="note11">
+ <a href="#cite11" title="Jump back to footnote 11 in the text">&#x21A9;</a>
+ </li>
+ <li id="note12">
+ <a href="#cite12" title="Jump back to footnote 12 in the text">&#x21A9;</a>
+ </li>
+ <li id="note13">
+ <a href="#cite13" title="Jump back to footnote 13 in the text">&#x21A9;</a>
+ </li>
+ <li id="note14">
+ <a href="#cite14" title="Jump back to footnote 14 in the text">&#x21A9;</a>
+ </li>
+ <li id="note15">
+ <a href="#cite15" title="Jump back to footnote 15 in the text">&#x21A9;</a>
+ </li>
+ <li id="note16">
+ <a href="#cite16" title="Jump back to footnote 16 in the text">&#x21A9;</a>
+ </li>
+ <li id="note17">
+ <a href="#cite17" title="Jump back to footnote 17 in the text">&#x21A9;</a>
+ </li>
+ </ol>
+ <h3>Contents</h3>
+ <ol>
+ <li><a href="/kant/groundwork_of_the_metaphysics_of_morals/section_one.html">First
+ Section</a>: Transition from the common rational knowledge of morality to the philosophical.</li>
+ <li><a href="/kant/groundwork_of_the_metaphysic_of_morals/section_two.html">Second
+ Section</a>: Transition from popular moral philosophy to the metaphysics of morals.</li>
+ <li><a href="/kant/groundwork_of_the_metaphysic_of_morals/section_three.html">Third
+ Section</a>: Transition from the metaphysics of morals to the critique of the pure practical reason.</li>
+ </ol>
+ </div>
+ <div class="meta">
+ <p>This text is based on the 1934 translation by Thomas Kingsmill Abbott; I&rsquo;ve simply cleaned up the typography, and added emphasis according to my copy of Mary Gregor&rsquo;s translation. The plaintext from Abbott that I started with is available via <a href="">the Gutenberg Project</a></p>
+ <p class="rights">This work is in <a rel="copyright license" href="">the public domain</a>.</p>
+ <p>Go back to the <a href="/">list of texts</a>.
+ </div>
2 kant/was_ist_aufklaerung/index.html
@@ -7,7 +7,7 @@
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="">
<title>Immanuel Kant: "Was ist Aufklärung?"</title>
-<body class="hentry">
+<body class="hentry enlightenment">
<h1 class="entry-title"><a href='/kant/was_ist_aufklaerung/'>Beantwortung der Frage: &bdquo;Was&nbsp;ist&nbsp;Aufklärung&ldquo;</a></h1>
<h2><address class="author vcard"><span class="fn">Immanuel Kant</span></h2>
<div class="entry-content">