The Critique of Pure and Practical Reason
From Immanuel Kant’s point of view, he believes in the existence of basic law. However, he emphasized that what he was looking for was the basis of morality. It is not about the content of morality. He does this by getting rid of what is mostly a human statement. Kant published works such as the shorter Critique of Pure Reason, and the Critique of Practical Reason, seven years after his brilliant idea.
As he did in the Critique of Pure Reason, the Critique of Practical Reason returns to the question of God that previously people could not discuss. It is because it is not included in the categories. This book is an ethical part of Kant’s system in which he no longer seeks metaphysical grounds for perception. However, it looks for those foundations for morality. For Kant, morality itself must also be about what is good in itself.
It must be concerned with the good and the bad of humans as humans. What Kant was looking for was a fundamental moral law. What is good in itself is goodwill that is not outward. For example, this does not guarantee that it is a moral act if the accompanying goals get praise. It attracts the sympathy of certain groups and it can be seen that someone is doing something good such as making donations to victims of charity or rioting at places of worship.
The Aspects of Quantity, Quality, Relationship, and Modality
For Kant, totality, plurality, and unity act as aspects of quantity that will perceive all things from the outside. Restriction, negation, and reality act as quality aspects. As for community, cause and effect, and substance and accident are aspects of the relationship. Necessity-contingency, existence and non-existence, and possibility-impossibility, are aspects of modality. Kant’s distinction between the ethical value of an act that people do for the sake of action and a goal that is done for the sake of duty.
The moral commands he meant were categorical imperatives and hypothetical imperatives. It led people to Kant’s formulation of the moral commandments. The first is a moral imperative that orders people to take an action only on the assumption that people want to achieve a certain goal. If it accommodates goodwill as an inner reality, then people can say that moral actions are good.
Goodwill is a will that is willing to do what it is obliged to do, purely for the sake of the obligation itself. On the other hand, goodwill is only good if it wants to fulfill its obligations according to Kant. In this case, he does not seem to care about the material in the form of the result or purpose of moral action. It is this principle that people later know as deontology, a form of whether an action is obligatory or not.
The Principle of Universalization
In summary, Kant in this case does not provide a material answer. Instead, he gives a formal form of the principle of universalization. According to him, people should act according to the maxims, standards, and considerations that people want as a general law. People formulate Kant’s ethic that good deeds have no value based on outward appearance. Rather, it acts as an inner attitude of goodwill.
The will is only good if it purely fulfills its obligations. For example, Kant said that the demand for human moral autonomy is obedience that people do with full awareness. Actions that people solely underlie through obligations and not other goals or venting impulses. Kant put this categorical imperative into a single principle. It defines a category that people cannot escape. Commands that apply absolutely without exception because what Kant ordered him becomes an obligation to himself.
It does not depend on the next destination. For example, Kant argued that the moral value of action should not be determined by people according to the consequences. However, it is only based on the extent to which the action is in harmony with the obligations that lie behind it. This is the a priori basis for all moral action, that is, its metaphysical premise. Kant’s teaching on the categorical imperative contains several principles of action.
There is human autonomy, which he contrasts with heteronomy, the principle which contains human teaching as an end in itself, and the principle of general law. These principles then lead Kant to a belief. The belief is that humans should act by the obligations of humans themselves. It is not according to feelings. Indeed, it is a conclusion that in general terms is very difficult for people to accept.
Kant’s Inconsistent Views
Interestingly, Kant himself is not so consistent with his views. Once upon a time when the somewhat old-fashioned Frederick William II ascended the throne, the king sued Kant. He vowed that he would never write or teach on religious matters again. He also stated to obey the order. In short, he is well aware of the consequences of this argument. However, he still sticks with his opinion.
According to Kant, lying to a murderer who was chasing a friend who was hitchhiking at home was a crime. No matter what the consequences, Kant’s ethical system led him to believe that people should not lie. For Kant, practical ratios are ratios that tell people what to do. In other words, ratio gives orders to the will of the people. Kant always asks how necessity is possible and whether it is possible.
He shows that the practical ratio gives an absolute command which he calls the categorical imperative. After the king’s death, Kant returned to writing with a passionate spirit on religious matters. He considers himself free to no longer fulfill his promise. Here, he seems to see that lying is common when certain situations do support him.
God, Soul, and Will
In principle, what one cannot find based on theoretical ratios must be presupposed based on practical ratios. Given the existence of God, the immorality of the soul, and the freedom of will, man has no practical knowledge. For Kant, accepting these three postulates is called belief. Therefore, by his philosophy, Kant meant to strengthen his faith, especially the Christian faith. The basic principle in answering this question is that people can when others have to.
If man were to make what man could do, all human behavior would be impossible. According to Kant, there are three things that humans must realize as well as they can that he demands and proves. That is why Kant called it the third postulate of the practical ratio. In this case, he firmly rejects a morality that emphasizes tendencies alone. Morality is closely related to individual obligations and duties. It depends on being a free agent that people can’t force.
According to Kant, freedom is the ability to govern. This ability Kant calls freedom of will, contrasts it with actions that arise from choices, desires, and emotions. In questioning action, Kant refers to various kinds of action. There is action out of obligation and action out of inclination. The first action is what the individual should do whatever the inclination while the second act is based on choice or taste.
Immoral and Moral Commitments
Immortality according to Kant can be affirmations based on the guidance of practical reason or moral reasons. On the other hand, human moral dignity demands eternal life in resolving the tension between immoral and moral commitments. With punishment and reward, the fact of the human’s immortality in the spiritual nature’s existence and soul underlies the single. Therefore, it only leads to eternal life and individuals cannot divide it into parts.
The immortality of the individual soul means the endless existence of the center of consciousness that the first person points to. Apart from man himself, the core of religion is no longer a mystery about God. God’s association with an ethical system is a coincidence in this perspective. For Kant, the existence of God is closely related to the human desire to live a moral life.
By no longer being the cause of all existence, God has become a strategy for enabling humans to function more morally and efficiently. In Critique of Practical Reason, people come to know that among the criticisms of Kant that deserve appreciation, are MacIntyre and Hegel. He argued that to live a moral life, humans need a regulator. The regulator will repay the good deed with happiness.
On the other hand, Kant does not give the content of moral obligation. His understanding of ratio is only very formal according to Hegel. It reduces his demands for universality, seeing that the practice of community groups provides the content of the obligation itself. Regardless of whether the individual is part of a particular society, Kant’s morality is very individual.
The Possibility of Humans
Kant’s rationalists are the only ones in proving that without the possibility of an afterlife and God, it is difficult for people to explain the reasons why people should act morally. He believed that it was impossible to prove the existence of God. It is because the human mind cannot access it and it is beyond the reach of the senses. In short, he rejects any attempt to claim a form of knowledge absolutism.
It seeks to be free from experience and its emphasis on intellectual excellence. It had a great influence on Western philosophy as well. It cannot be denied that Kant’s influence on philosophy was enormous despite the number of people who disagreed with his views. In this case, Kant does not see humans from the context. Individuals also always think that they develop independently and do not involve their community.
As a result, his history let go of man himself. Kant’s concept of ethics is no less interesting. In aspects such as purpose, context, and subject, he tends to be weak because it eliminates elements of moral autonomy. Critics of MacIntyre also argue that attempts to justify autonomous rationality have failed.
Perhaps, enlightenment has indeed forgotten its divine origins because it is a common phenomenon. Besides, Kant forgot the religious experience. If humans use reason in trying to formulate ethics, Kant by itself does not arrive at real ethics. Ethics is neither rational nor theoretical apart from Kant, it is not a matter of pure reason. Rational ethics are no longer ethics in addition to being at odds with each other about what is bad and good.
It can instead get caught up in the calculation of profit and loss. Ethical actions can generate benefits for the perpetrators in other words. However, it could also result in a loss for him. According to Kant, ethics is a matter of practical reason. It has been embedded in humans as an obligation. However, humans in essence only fulfill their inclinations in every action. In other words, the tendency to do good, for example, actually exists in humans.
Ethical actions are behind reason but are deontological.
- Kant, I. (1908). Critique of pure reason. 1781. Modern Classical Philosophers, Cambridge, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 370-456.
- Kant, I. (2002). Critique of practical reason. Hackett Publishing.
- Kranak, J. (2019). Kantian deontology. Introduction to philosophy: Ethics.