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Why did Rand view Kant as evil?

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You want me to define altruism? The basic premise of altruism is that the effect that causes the most aggregate pleasure is to be pursued by action. Mill is altruism.

Then, isn't Kant against this since he does not believe pleasure has moral worth?

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Good for whom? You are evading the question.

This question is like, "Have you stopped beating your wife?" So, I don't know what to say, really. Sorry?

Then, isn't Kant against this since he does not believe pleasure has moral worth?

Yes, Kant is against altruism. It's really not hard to show that, so I am unsure why this misunderstanding persists.

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You want me to define altruism? The basic premise of altruism is that the effect that causes the most aggregate pleasure is to be pursued by action. Mill is altruism.

So altruism is utilitarianism?

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So altruism is utilitarianism?

Utilitarianism is a form of altruism, and is pretty much the representative of it that is familiar to most people. You could take Hume as representative of it, too, but Mill's philosophy is a lot more convincing. Calculating the extent of suffering and pleasure that will occur from an action is what Mill is all about.

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The categorical imperative, yo.

What is the Categorical Imperative based on? I know the three formulations, but how did Kant come up with them? Why are there only three? How did he argue that his three formulations would suffice to live by?

I'm just curious.

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What is the Categorical Imperative based on? I know the three formulations, but how did Kant come up with them? Why are there only three? How did he argue that his three formulations would suffice to live by?

I'm just curious.

Kant was trying to think of a way to ground morality on something other than the empirical. If you say that morality is whatever makes you happy, then morality can be any number of things, and you certainly cannot tell with absolute certainty what it is before you do it. Grounding morality on happiness would lead to the conclusion that the morality of what you do can only be evaluated a posteriori - one could never tell a person "This is what's right," but one could only say, "Do this, and if it turns out well, it was moral, but if it turns out poorly, it was immoral." The categorical imperative grounds morality on a basis that can be known a priori, and thus can be a motivating basis regardless of effects.

The three formulations are the same thing - the imperative is the same, and the formulations are just other ways of expressing it. There could be more, for all I and Kant know. The three he gave are just convenient alternative ways to express the same idea.

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The categorical imperative grounds morality on a basis that can be known a priori, and thus can be a motivating basis regardless of effects.

How did he come up with the formulations, though? Why the Formula of Universal Law vs. the Formula of Pink Bunnies (just an example!)? How did he justify his specific formulations?

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How did he come up with the formulations, though? Why the Formula of Universal Law vs. the Formula of Pink Bunnies (just an example!)? How did he justify his specific formulations?

The good will is the only thing that can be put a priori as a motivation. Anything else would be based on empirical grounds. The good will does not change with circumstances, so it is universal. Treating people as ends and not as mere means entails treating them in an objectively-based way, and not considering the private inclinations that may be served by a particular action.

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Utilitarianism is a form of altruism, and is pretty much the representative of it that is familiar to most people. You could take Hume as representative of it, too, but Mill's philosophy is a lot more convincing. Calculating the extent of suffering and pleasure that will occur from an action is what Mill is all about.

So the greatest good for the greatest number is what you believe to be the proper basis of morality or just what you believe kant to represent?

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So the greatest good for the greatest number is what you believe to be the proper basis of morality or just what you believe kant to represent?

No, Kant was not interested in grounding morality on happiness at all. The greatest good for the greatest number is a form of altruism, I think we'd all accept. Mill's altruism seems to be the most scientific in that it calls for a moral calculus. Kant did not believe that making any number of people happy was a basis for calling an action good. As I pointed out, though, Kant was not insensitive to the role of happiness in conduct. Kant merely held that the desire for my happiness, your happiness, or everyone's happiness was not a proper motivation for morally sound conduct.

I disagree sharply will utilitarianism as an ethical theory, although Judge Richard Posner's law-and-economics theory of adjudication makes extensive use of cost-benefit analysis (a form of utilitarianism) to decide cases, and I have to admit that I respect Judge Posner a great deal as a jurist.

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No, Kant was not interested in grounding morality on happiness at all. The greatest good for the greatest number is a form of altruism, I think we'd all accept.

I will accept that utilitarianism is a form of altruism, yes. Really, I think that altruism is best defined as "other-ism," or morality based on fulfillment of the good of others. This leaves open what one thinks is good for others. I don't think it's appropriate to say that only concern for the happiness of others is altruism, as this is too narrow. Thus, I don't think Kant should be excluded from the altruist label on that basis.

Ultimately, all forms of altruism boil down to nihilism, since if the good is to sacrifice one's interest for the good of others, then it is therefore good for others to be sacrificing their interests for the good of others. In the end, nobody rightfully gets to have their interests, since everyone must sacrifice for this "other" who never ends up existing since the whole thing goes in a big circle. Kant is merely more explicitly nihilist since his "good" is an otherworldly duty that comes from nowhere, just because, and he, unlike other altruists, is willing to state explicitly that this is what he advocates. Other altruists generally try to hide the ultimate nihilism that their philosophy boils down to. But I guess Kant could also be said to be hiding it because his works are so friggin huge and incomprehensible and he doesn't exactly like getting to the point. Plus, he likes to hold up the mantle of what he is actually destroying; reason is one such example.

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I will accept that utilitarianism is a form of altruism, yes. Really, I think that altruism is best defined as "other-ism," or morality based on fulfillment of the good of others. This leaves open what one thinks is good for others. I don't think it's appropriate to say that only concern for the happiness of others is altruism, as this is too narrow. Thus, I don't think Kant should be excluded from the altruist label on that basis.

Ultimately, all forms of altruism boil down to nihilism, since if the good is to sacrifice one's interest for the good of others, then it is therefore good for others to be sacrificing their interests for the good of others. In the end, nobody rightfully gets to have their interests, since everyone must sacrifice for this "other" who never ends up existing since the whole thing goes in a big circle. Kant is merely more explicitly nihilist since his "good" is an otherworldly duty that comes from nowhere, just because, and he, unlike other altruists, is willing to state explicitly that this is what he advocates. Other altruists generally try to hide the ultimate nihilism that their philosophy boils down to. But I guess Kant could also be said to be hiding it because his works are so friggin huge and incomprehensible and he doesn't exactly like getting to the point. Plus, he likes to hold up the mantle of what he is actually destroying; reason is one such example.

"Happiness" is the sum total of all pleasures. Altruism considers the pleasures and/or happiness of others when considering what is right. Altruism need not be selfless - the self has pleasures, of course, and those pleasures might well be considered when considering what is right for the whole world of selves. If altruism is this nihilism of which you accuse it, then altruism simply isn't working well - if no one is happy, then how is it that the philosophy that advocates happiness is bringing people to that end?

EDIT: There may be some confusion on your part. Morality as it applies to the person asks, "What ought I to do?" The actions of others are outside my control. Thus, an altruist who is doing everything he can for others to his own detriment will by unhappy if all that happens to him happens through his action. But of course, in a world of altruists, every action of every other person is tending to the happiness of others, so what is not in his control will be making him happy. If that fallacy of yours is your basis for criticizing altruism, then you might want to take what I have said into account.

The otherworldly duty does not come from nowhere, and by the rest of your post, I get the feeling you simply don't have the patience to read and understand Kant. Kant is not difficult if careful study is given to him, and if the special uses he has for words are recognized. Kant is consistent in his vocabulary and avoids as far as possibly that ambiguity that everyday words have, so in a way he's more understandable. Knowing that when Kant says "cognition," he's talking about a specific kind of thinking, and not using that word in a haphazard way to refer to many different uses of the intellect, will help clear any potential confusion about his use of the word. That is just an example.

Edited by Iamblichus

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...Kant is not difficult if careful study is given to him...

"The notion of duty, therefore, requires in the action,

objectively, agreement with the law, and, subjectively in its maxim,

that respect for the law shall be the sole mode in which the will is

determined thereby. "

Easy to understand? Seriously? There, are, seven, comma's, in, this, one, sentence i quoted earlier? I had to read that sentence 3 times to understand it a little bit and I'm pretty sharp for a marble.

I suggest he is not difficult to understand, in the objective sense, that, if he were interested in being understood, unilaterally, he would have reconsidered his approach, in the subjective sense, that with the appropriate view, his duty to his readers, best described as illusive, in most cases, would be served, in the most efficient way, by a presentation, in which he chose to articulate, in what most would consider, managable portions, the concepts, which are to be found in, a place best described as, his document.

He doesn't want to be understood.

"Happiness" is the sum total of all pleasures. Altruism considers the pleasures and/or happiness of others when considering what is right. Altruism need not be selfless - the self has pleasures, of course, and those pleasures might well be considered when considering what is right for the whole world of selves. If altruism is this nihilism of which you accuse it, then altruism simply isn't working well - if no one is happy, then how is it that the philosophy that advocates happiness is bringing people to that end?

I disagree that altruism need not be selfless. It must be selfless for the individual, everytime the benefit to him is in conflict with the benefit to others. Your statement suggests that he would be selfish because on occasion when considering the good of others, his best interest would also be theirs. In otherwords, he need only hold himself as a sacrificial animal some of the time. Selfishness in the objectivist sense is a full time deal.

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If altruism is this nihilism of which you accuse it, then altruism simply isn't working well - if no one is happy, then how is it that the philosophy that advocates happiness is bringing people to that end?

I would answer that it isn't working well because it can't work. If the good is sacrifice of self to other, then even if the goal is happiness for others, still nobody can be happy because the recipients are in turn obligated to sacrifice themselves to others. If it seems like this doesn't make sense, then yes that is the whole point: altruism doesn't make sense.

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How did he come up with the formulations, though?

Oh, that's simple--it was just a priori synthesis of the manifold of pure intuitions. Duh, Mimpy! :)

Actually, Kant's system and the ways he arrived at many of his conclusions place Kant's philosophy among the most tortuously complicated systems devised by a philosopher, IMO (at least, compared to philosophers prior to Kant). I don't know if this quote from Nietzsche is true, but it makes me laugh, and it might not be far from true:

It seems to me that today attempts are made everywhere to divert attention from the actual influence Kant exerted on German philosophy, and especially to ignore prudently the value he set upon himself. Kant was first and foremost proud of his table of categories; with that in his hand he said: "This is the most difficult thing that could ever be undertaken on behalf of metaphysics."

Let us only understand this "could be"! [...]

But I think it is important to read and try to understand Kant's system--as offensive and boring and seemingly arbitrary as it can sometimes be. In a letter to John Hospers, Ayn Rand said this once, and I think she's right:

I do not believe that modern philosophy can be discussed without reaching an understanding on Kant. Modern philosophy may and does depart from him on many issues, but it is his epistemological premises that have been accepted without challenge or proof. If you want to understand my philosophical position in a historical context, this is just a brief clue.

I don't think that means you necessarily have to read him in the original (at least, in English translations I've read, he can sometimes be almost unintelligible, without having to practically diagram the sentences in your head to figure out what he's trying to say), but at least the best, least biased commentaries and analyses of his works you can find. Quaint aphorisms aside, his philosophy isn't always something so simple as can be explained on a message board (just as Ayn Rand's philosophy isn't, but more so, because he's one of those philosophers who was influenced by geometry, and they always tend to be more complicated! : )).

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Kant was not anti-happiness. [...] So Kant is certainly not against happiness, but he does not view happiness as objectively good or evil in itself.
Did you read the quote I provided, in which Kant says that happiness tends to "corrupt [the strict laws of duty] at their very source, and entirely to destroy their worth- a thing which even common practical reason cannot ultimately call good"? Is this not anti-happiness?

Most of Kant's works are available as etexts--so even though you might not always get the specific translation you want, you can at least usually look up a page reference, just by doing a quick Google search, if you know basically what you're looking for. I find that references help--if someone can check your source, it makes it easier for him to understand your position, and also to learn more about the topic if it's interesting.

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