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Nicko0301

Immanuel Kant

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Let us provide som further context for the bizarre suggestion that Kant was in any relevant sense "pro-happiness". Because, in fact, when Kant says that it is our duty to pursue happiness, then that is actually, within the larger context, proof of how depraved Kant's moral philosophy is. After all, what he is saying is that if you do not pursue your happiness INDIRECTLY, then you will not be eager to do your duty. Why would one not be eager to do one's duty? Because it is in conflict with one's happiness.

I certainly don't disagree with the point that the Kantian duty to see to one's happiness is mediated by one's obligation to do their duty as such. But Nicko was saying that a Kantian isn't permitted to do anything that benefits themselves. This isn't what the text bears out.

The only way you can be sure you are acting from duty is through your own suffering.

But Kant doesn't think that if you are suffering, then you are doing your duty. He's making the epistemic point that we can't determine the moral worth of actions that comport with duty and with our inclinations. This is not a normative obligation to make oneself suffer.

And I know that everybody, who are honest, and who spend some time to study Kant, in original, will come to the same conclusion.

I have a lot of respect for you if you've studied Kant in the German. I'm told it's very difficult going.

On the other hand - if you meant to impugn my intellectual honesty, I prefer that you do it directly.

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But Kant doesn't think that if you are suffering, then you are doing your duty. He's making the epistemic point that we can't determine the moral worth of actions that comport with duty and with our inclinations. This is not a normative obligation to make oneself suffer.

I know. I did not say anything else. I just made it clear that according to Kant there is a clear conflict between your duty and your happiness and that duty will make you feel pain.

And this clearly implies, in view of the total context, that the only way to know for sure whether somebody is acting from duty is if he is suffering.

I have not read Kant in German, I meant only that I have not relied on any second-hand sources to come to my conclusions regarding Kant.

As to honesty, I was refering to anybody who claims that Ayn Rand and Leonard Peikoff made up and attacked a "straw man" of Kant. Does that include you? Yes, if you have made such a claim.

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But Kant doesn't think that if you are suffering, then you are doing your duty. He's making the epistemic point that we can't determine the moral worth of actions that comport with duty and with our inclinations. This is not a normative obligation to make oneself suffer.
It really is not primarily about epistemology, but ethics, because it relies on a specific notion of morality: not upon a general idea of doing what is right, but upon a specific idea about what types of things are right.

I certainly don't disagree with the point that the Kantian duty to see to one's happiness is mediated by one's obligation to do their duty as such. But Nicko was saying that a Kantian isn't permitted to do anything that benefits themselves. This isn't what the text bears out.
Yes, but the whole context of the discussion is morality: i.e. not about how one acts, but about how one acts morally. It does not matter if Kant says one may enjoy themselves. When discussing morality, the issue is whether he thinks one should. As you showed, he thinks it is appropriate, since it can sometimes be a motivation to doing one's duty. However, in doing so, he is once again implying that to have any moral worth, there must be that primary standard of duty. The motivation to duty is the moral justification, not the enjoyment itself, nor the benefit to oneself... i.e. not as a primary, only as a means to doing one's duty.

I don't think anyone is really reading Kant wrong here. The essence of what he said in this area is really quite simple.

So often, I've seen people point out that Kant said one may enjoy oneself, and not suffer... but, it is such folks who are dropping the essential context of the discussion. The whole discussion is about morality, and about what has moral value and what does not... so, every statement is implicitly preceded by ... "In terms of morality/moral worth..."

I don't think all such folk do it dishonestly; I think they read some type of non-standard interpretation of Kant into Rand's writing, when in fact her interpretation is quite standard and in synch with what Kantians would say.

Edited by softwareNerd

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I think it is pretty clear from the quotes given and from my own reading of Kant that happiness might occur if one is doing one's duty, but that one ought to be motivated out of duty and not personal gain. But Kant is so anti-reality that he doesn't give examples of what he is referring to, which leads to a lot of confusions as some people try to interpret what he is saying. It's all one big floating abstraction, never concretized into what the life of duty would be like. Clearly, for Kant, following one's duty is the primary motivator, not personal happiness. One might be happy following one's duty, but he regards this as accidental and not a moral motivation. In Kant, happiness or personal satisfaction holds no moral worth, only following one's duty can have moral worth. One is supposed to follow one's duty (which is never clearly defined) even if it makes one miserable -- and the more one follows one's duty even though it makes one miserable the more moral such a man is.

You also have to look at his statements in context, and realize he thinks that the phenomenal world (the world we are aware of) is not the real world, and that following one's duty means to discard all the earthly pleasures one might be seeking because these are not real values. In this context, happiness, the way most Americans think of it, is totally non-real and illusory. Having a happy marriage or a nice car or any other earthly value is just being phenomenal and not noumenal, and it is only the noumenal that counts with Kant, even though he never defines it or gives any evidence for its existence. Kant wants you to disregard all values (as understood by Objectivism) in favor of following the duty imposed by the neumena.

In other words, according to Kant's metaphysics, anything that makes you happy on earth and is an objective value to you ought to be considered a lowly concern because it is not real. Ayn Rand read Kant and realized this, that one is supposed to disregard all earthly values according to his metaphysics and his ethics.

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Kant relates to self-interest as a slave owner relates to the feeding of his slaves. They need to eat something from time to time so they can do their duty.

Exactly. But Kant makes it clear, on so many occasions, that happines is not to be expected for the moral man, that it is just absurd to claim that he is in any shape or form pro-happiness. He is obviously anti-happiness. Here is another quote from Kant:

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.

http://philosophy.eserver.org/kant/metaphys-of-morals.txt

Not only is your duty in conflict with your happiness, it is also in conflict with your life. Here is a classical example from Critique of Practical Reason:

f his sovereign ordered him [the moral man], on pain of the same immediate execution, to bear false witness against an honourable man, whom the prince might wish to destroy under a plausible pretext, would he consider it possible in that case to overcome his love of life, however great it may be. He would perhaps not venture to affirm whether he would do so or not, but he must unhesitatingly admit that it is possible to do so. He judges, therefore, that he can do a certain thing because he is conscious that he ought, and he recognizes that he is free− a fact which but for the moral law he would never have known.

http://www.e-text.org/text/Kant%20Immanuel...al%20Reason.pdf

Apparently, the moral man should be willing to sacrifice his own life. (It looks like Kant, with this example, is the father of all so-called "lifeboat" examples.) But in another situation, one should also, according ot Kant, sacrifice the innocent lives of others. Not for your own gain. Not for anybody's gain. But as an end in itself. In his famous article "On a Supposed Right to Lie from Altruistic Motives" Kant explicitly says that you should not lie in order to protect people from getting murdered. That means, in reality, that you should let innocent people die, for no reason at all - simply because it is your "sacred" duty.

http://caae.phil.cmu.edu/cavalier/80130/part1/sect4/lie.html

Edited by knast

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Interesting that we are going over this in my History of Modern Philosophy class currently. Although we are reading the Critique of Pure Reason, the instructor will occasionally touch on Kant's view of morality.

In his explanation, Kant regards moral law as on a higher order than happiness. Happiness is just the fulfillment of baser natural desires. The self is tied to the body and it's humors, the knowable, causal connections that have been brought about via nature and nurture. Moral duty is of the noumenal world, i.e. the intelligible but unknowable realm. The ideal, the kingdom of heaven is to have both, but, if you cannot have both it is far greater to do your duty than be happy.

As my instructor put it, when I asked for further clarification, "The moral man would rather burn in the fires of hell if it meant doing his duty."

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On 26.11.2009 at 8:37 AM, Nicko0301 said:

Essentially, Rand says of Kant's view, the mind is responsible for distorting the material provided by one's senses, thus, in effect, creating reality (if I am incorrect in describing her interpretation, please let me know). My question is this: is her assessment correct?

Regardless of Rand's ignorance concerning Kant's epistemology, this is not exactly what transcendental means in Kant. Rather than a creation of reality, it is a mechanism for justifiably, necessarily deriving knowledge (experience) from synthesis of thought and sensation. Hence Maurice Merleau-Ponty's argument that Kant takes reality as the scientific perceiver (idealist) is through the theoretical faculties of mind and not changing reality in any external, mutually interdependent way. On the other hand, the concept 'reality' can be interpreted in two different ways: phenomenal or noumenal, neither of which is changeable. I assumed you meant phenomenal, but Rand understood neither in Kant.

On 26.11.2009 at 3:17 PM, Grames said:

Rand picked it up by reading on her own in the original german

Is it true? Source, please.

On 26.11.2009 at 4:09 PM, Nicko0301 said:

Incidentally, Kant's philosophy was the inspiration for "The Matrix."

No, The Matrix is purely Platonic, unless you are one of those who confuses Platonism with Kantianism.

On 05.12.2009 at 5:13 AM, Bob G said:

Dr. Peikoff does give you an unadultrated view as close to Kant as is possible.

That's a joke. Peikoff himself said that he couldn't understand Kant other than through interpretations by others. Kant was too difficult to read for him, and, judging by his critique in Synthetic/Analytic dichotomy, he only misinterprets Kant, and does so grossly and unfavorably. Peikoff is simply stuck in the noncontradiction without being able to moderately perceive Kant. His going to extremes of interpreting Kant reflects in such statements that,

Quote

If your statement is proved, it says nothing about that which exists; if it is about existents, it cannot be proved. If it is demonstrated by logical argument, it represents a subjective convention; if it asserts a fact, logic cannot establish it [etc]

But Kant showed, through antinomies, that contradictions are located only in mind, along with all definitions and judgements that help us grasp what's real. The problem ultimately rests in the incommensurability of definitions of Rand/Peikoff and Kant. In my personal verdict, Kant's fault is that he mixed up his understandings of practical (read: commonsensical) with theoretical (read: philosophical), losing on the practical end.

On 06.12.2009 at 11:53 AM, Nicko0301 said:

But the quintessence of Kant's ethics is still a subordination of self-interest.

Subordination to the self-interest of the brain as such, particularly its inner workings.

On 06.12.2009 at 8:52 PM, knast said:

Every single claim by them [Rand/Peikoff] have been verified by reading Kant.

Is that so? Even that Kant was a 'witch-doctor'? Or that he simply should be taken as an a priori evil and false in his writings, without even an ability to prove him so or understand him rightly (and justly at that)?

On 09.12.2009 at 3:48 PM, softwareNerd said:

[Kant] thinks it is appropriate [to enjoy oneself], since it can sometimes be a motivation to doing one's duty. However, in doing so, he is once again implying that to have any moral worth, there must be that primary standard of duty.

I think the point in Kant is that in order for us to examine the motivation, the clearest way to find the duty is when we receive suffering for our actions. Then either there will be duty involved or there wouldn't. In the case when we receive happiness, our inclinations toward such reward could have entwined with the sense of duty, if there was such, and hence, in this case, we cannot fish out the true reason for our actions and know whether it was a moral duty or a simple emotion.

On 09.12.2009 at 3:48 PM, softwareNerd said:

It really is not primarily about epistemology, but ethics

Concerning your comment that ethics, as such, has nothing to do with epistemology, in Kant they are connected. The epistemic element of practical reason that also begins his normative examinations is the conclusion in pure reason from the first Critique. Hence practical reason is also, at the core, a pure (lawful) reason, whose only difference from theoretical reason is that it bypasses the phenomenal and impulsively reaches within toward the noumenal, yet ever in vain and without completing sainthood in life (or eternally, that we could know of).

On 09.12.2009 at 3:48 PM, softwareNerd said:

[some folks] read some type of non-standard interpretation of Kant into Rand's writing, when in fact her interpretation is quite standard and in synch with what Kantians would say.

Frankly, B.S. Not even close to a Bachelor at that. Or to a Kantian in canon.

On 10.12.2009 at 0:43 AM, Lazariun said:

The moral man would rather burn in the fires of hell if it meant doing his duty.

Yes, it's ironic that Nazis also killed Jews out of duty to the Führer, who wished to save Capitalism from Jews/Bolsheviks and all other 'degenerates' in order to build a cultural heaven on earth. Not that this connects to Kant in any way, in contrast to what Peikoff believes.

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