Reflections on Kant’s Notion of Morality
My reading of Immanuel Kant led me to realize one of his greatest legacies to humankind with his development of the concept of the categorical imperative. This concept presents the principle that our actions should be directed by morality. This also means that what we can do as individuals can be deduced from moral law (Kant’s Groundwork for Metaphysics: A Beginner’s Guide). Kant’s writing on ethics has reinforced my own notions of what is right and wrong.
In the past, I would often use utilitarian ideas to make value judgments on different issues that I encountered in life. In utilitarian thought, the notion of good is equated with the action that generates the greatest amount of benefit for the greatest number of people (Kant’s Groundwork for Metaphysics: A Beginner’s Guide). While this may have been rather appropriate for making decisions on certain issues, I have come to realize through Kant that the concept of good should not be dependent upon the results of the actions that one does. I now know that in certain issues I cannot play safe by always siding with the majority and making their greater number my refuge. Sometimes, one must stand up argue for what is right even if one has contrary views to that of the majority especially if one construes the actions of the majority as having logical contradictions. I realize now that Kant had placed an enormous burden upon us. This burden requires that one shows courage in fighting for what is right in the face of daunting odds.
I subscribe to the ideas presented by Kant in the form of the categorical imperative. I believe that the horrors of the Holocaust and other forms of ethnic cleansing would not happen if people in the world exhibited the courage demanded from us by Kant. Hitler implemented a policy of extermination of the Jewish population of Germany that can arguably be described as based on utilitarian ideas stated earlier. To Hitler, the Jews were considered as the source of Germany’s problems and their extermination as the ultimate solution (Final Solution: Overview). As absurd as this idea was, it was nonetheless carried out because people like us have not understand neither follow the underpinning fundamentals of the categorical imperative. It could have become a milestone for Kant’s piece of idea translated into action but apparently, it became a portrait of failed opportunity.
In essence, Kant’s idea espouses an idea of fairness that can be applied to all human beings whether they are weak or strong, poor or rich, or perceived to be descendants of inferior or superior race. It is this universal appeal that draws me to agree with him. I fervently believe that if a significant number of people believe and adhere to his principles of morality, then, peace among nations and its people can be more attainable.
Kant’s Ground work for the Metaphysics of Morals: A Beginner’s Guide to Kant’s
Moral Philosophy. 18 April 2008
Final Solution: Overview. 21 April 2008