Kant: Reasons and Causes, Morality and Religion
Kant was a deontologist who believed that knowledge was created by the mind, not external factors; because of this he wanted to unite reason and experience. Humanity’s frail nature was the human condition according to Kant, their struggle to make moral decisions and do the right thing can only be solved by employing reason and his three maxims when decision making.
Kant’s diagnoses the human condition as human’s frailty and impurity when distinguishing between one’s self interested inclinations and moral duty. Humans were “…finite beings with our individual needs…yet we [were] also rational beings, and for Kant that include[d]…the recognition of moral obligations” (Stevenson and Haberman p.155). The contrast and ever-apparent strain between these opposing sides of human nature fuel Kant’s diagnosis of human’s frailty. In Kant’s conception of human reason and action, he distinguished between categorical and hypothetical imperatives which displayed the human struggles regarding what decisions were morally right. Self interested desires, “…which involve[ed] only the selection of means to satisfy one’s own desire” (p.151) could be defined as a hypothetical imperative. However, categorical imperative claims “…that morality is fundamentally a function of [one’s] reason, not just [one’s] feelings” (p.151). Knowing what was morally right and doing what was morally right was the depravity of human nature, the choice of choosing one’s own happiness over their obligations to those who surround them. The desire for instant gratification from any action hinders human’s consideration of longer-term self-interest. The difficulty arises when the one must decide to postpone immediate satisfaction in the interest of future goals; a “…balance to strike between living for the moment and planning for the future….” (p.155) must be reached. Human’s struggles with moral decisions and personal gain exemplify their...
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