Sunday, 2 December 2012

Philosophy of Immanuel Kant

"I say that man, and in general every rational being exists as an end in itself, not merely as a means for arbitrary use by this or that will."
                                                                        - Immanuel Kant.

The above line is the essence of Kant's philosophy. He completely denounces the ideology of the orthodox philosopher which states that:
"Man is an apathetic being and is destined to pain and suffering."
Kant thinks that this is a derisible view of the mater and thinks of man as a respectable being because Reason is the premise that governs humans which is the most important thing which separates us from animals.


1)      MOTIVE:

           Kant says that when a man decides to pursue a certain course of action, it is not the end product that is of importance, but the motive behind the action. Thus a good result not borne out of a good intention is questionable. I'm a bit confused as to how exactly Kant has defined GOOD in this context. But as I come to understand it, it means that the motive should be governed by DUTY, rather than Inclination. Unlike an idiosyncratic inclination, a dutiful motive is governed by respecting the individuality of human beings and humanity in general.


            The second contrast that Kant draws pertains to the will of a human. He claims that the will of a man should be AUTONOMOUS, i.e., he should have a free will and shouldn't be bound by the whims and fancies of other humans. This provides room for development and enrichment of the individuality of the person. Thus, the individuality of people is respected and other people are not used as a MEANS, but rather viewed as AN END IN ITSELF.


            Kant divides them into two categories- Hypothetical and Categorical.Something that relies on the validity of something else, i.e., it is indirectly DEPENDENT, is a hypothetical imperative. I would like to quote Kant's definition of a categorical imperative:

"But suppose, however, there were something whose existence has in itself an absolute value... an end in itself...then in it, and in it alone, would there be ground of a possible categorical imperative." 

This was basically my understanding of the KANT philosophy. However, I must mention that its implications still elude me.

Lastly, I would like to draw your attention to one more point. You will notice that the eminent Kant uses the phrase "man is an end in itself" on a number of occasions. What does this exactly mean?
Remember that reason is our premise and I will leave you to ponder over the following line, which is my interpretation of the phrase-
When every action of man is based on consistent and logical thinking and every decision he makes adheres to the only absolute- REASON, then such a man is said to be an end in himself.

PS: I have tried to elucidate the philosophy to the best of my understanding. Any discrepancies are highly regretted.

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