FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF THE METAPHYSIC OF MORALS [NOOK Book]

Overview

PREFACE



Ancient Greek philosophy was divided into three ...
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FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF THE METAPHYSIC OF MORALS

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Overview

PREFACE



Ancient Greek philosophy was divided into three sciences: physics,
ethics, and logic. This division is perfectly suitable to the nature
of the thing; and the only improvement that can be made in it is to
add the principle on which it is based, so that we may both satisfy
ourselves of its completeness, and also be able to determine correctly
the necessary subdivisions.

All rational knowledge is either material or formal: the former
considers some object, the latter is concerned only with the form of
the understanding and of the reason itself, and with the universal
laws of thought in general without distinction of its objects.
Formal philosophy is called logic. Material philosophy, however, has
to do with determinate objects and the laws to which they are subject,
is again twofold; for these laws are either laws of nature or of
freedom. The science of the former is physics, that of the latter,
ethics; they are also called natural philosophy and moral philosophy
respectively.

Logic cannot have any empirical part; that is, a part in which the
universal and necessary laws of thought should rest on grounds taken
from experience; otherwise it would not be logic, i.e., a canon for
the understanding or the reason, valid for all thought, and capable of
demonstration. Natural and moral philosophy, on the contrary, can each
have their empirical part, since the former has to determine the
laws of nature as an object of experience; the latter the laws of
the human will, so far as it is affected by nature: the former,
however, being laws according to which everything does happen; the
latter, laws according to which everything ought to happen. Ethics,
however, must also consider the conditions under which what ought to
happen frequently does not.

We may call all philosophy empirical, so far as it is based on
grounds of experience: on the other band, that which delivers its
doctrines from a priori principles alone we may call pure
philosophy. When the latter is merely formal it is logic; if it is
restricted to definite objects of the understanding it is metaphysic.

In this way there arises the idea of a twofold metaphysic- a
metaphysic of nature and a metaphysic of morals. Physics will thus
have an empirical and also a rational part. It is the same with
Ethics; but here the empirical part might have the special name of
practical anthropology, the name morality being appropriated to the
rational part.

All trades, arts, and handiworks have gained by division of
labour, namely, when, instead of one man doing everything, each
confines himself to a certain kind of work distinct from others in the
treatment it requires, so as to be able to perform it with greater
facility and in the greatest perfection. Where the different kinds
of work are not distinguished and divided, where everyone is a
jack-of-all-trades, there manufactures remain still in the greatest
barbarism. It might deserve to be considered whether pure philosophy
in all its parts does not require a man specially devoted to it, and
whether it would not be better for the whole business of science if
those who, to please the tastes of the public, are wont to blend the
rational and empirical elements together, mixed in all sorts of
proportions unknown to themselves, and who call themselves independent
thinkers, giving the name of minute philosophers to those who apply
themselves to the rational part only- if these, I say, were warned not
to carry on two employments together which differ widely in the
treatment they demand, for each of which perhaps a special talent is
required, and the combination of which in one person only produces
bunglers. But I only ask here whether the nature of science does not
require that we should always carefully separate the empirical from
the rational part, and prefix to Physics proper (or empirical physics)
a metaphysic of nature, and to practical anthropology a metaphysic
of morals, which must be carefully cleared of everything empirical, so
that we may know how much can be accomplished by pure reason in both
cases, and from what sources it draws this its a priori teaching,
and that whether the latter inquiry is conducted by all moralists
(whose name is legion), or only by some who feel a calling thereto.

As my concern here is with moral philosophy, I limit the question
suggested to this: Whether it is not of the utmost necessity to
construct a pure thing which is only empirical and which belongs to
anthropology? for that such a philosophy must be possible is evident
from the common idea of duty and of the moral laws.
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940012484932
  • Publisher: SAP
  • Publication date: 4/27/2011
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 73 KB

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 4 of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Concise introduction to Kant's thought

    Kant is not considered as one of the more accessible philosophers, and most of his monumental works are too long and beyond reach of an average reader. This short book is still fairly advanced and conceptually sophisticated, but fortunately due to its length it does not go much too deep in philosophical concepts. The book deals on several occasions with the central concept in Kant's moral philosophy, and that is the concept of categorical imperative. This imperative can be summed up in Kant's famous dictum: "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law." Several other famous Kant concepts - like practical reason, pure reason, treating humans like ends and not as means in moral considerations, etc. - are dealt with throughout the book. You might need to read the book several times before you get a better understanding of what is being discussed, but again, since it is so short, this can be easily done. The language of the translation sounds a bit archaic to the modern ear, but this does not obscure the meaning at all. Overall, reading this book would be a worthwhile endeavor and as good of a starting point to start reading Kant as they come.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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