Angela Zhou Professor Pourciau GER 210: Intro to German Philosophy 8 March, 2013 Kant begins his Groundwork

Concerning the Metaphysics of Morals by first analyzing "common sense morality" and delineating the true vocation of reason as a will good in itself, rather than an individual’s mechanism for happiness. He suggests that "Now in a being that has reason and a will, if the proper end of nature were its preservation, its welfare, in a word its happiness, then nature would have hit upon a very bad arrangement in selecting the reason of the creature to carry out this purpose." But in passage 4:430, while clarifying the characteristics of necessary and contingent duties to oneself and others, Kant claims that "...the natural end that all human beings have is their own happiness..." and that "there is still only a negative and not a positive agreement with humanity as an end in itself unless everyone also tries, as far as he can, to further the ends of others.” It appears that here Kant contradicts himself by asserting the unsuitability of reason to the pursuit of happiness, and the contingent duty of the rational will to further other's happiness. Untangling the Kant’s ideas about the role of individual happiness reveals its complex and ambiguous relationship with Kant’s oppositions of duty vs inclination and means vs. ends. These binary oppositions are at the heart of Kant’s framework for a metaphysics of morality. To resolve this seeming contradiction, I reconstruct Kant’s statements regarding duty, happiness, and reason. He observes that more often than not, reason ultimately interferes with the individual’s pursuit of happiness and an individual’s instinct could provide better guidance to the

will good-in-itself. thereby opposing duty and inclination as significantly distinct. Thus. He considers happiness as the sum total of all inclinations. even though happiness may oppose some individual inclinations by its multitudinous nature. “common sense” morality deeper to its conditions of possibility in reason and the good will. Kant again considers the role of happiness when in passage 4:399 he describes the characteristics of acting in accordance to duty rather than mere inclination. it ultimately remains the individual’s object of deepest inclination. He notes that the individual’s dissatisfaction would be a great temptation from fulfilling further duties. reason is destined to pursue the good will. proceeding from concrete. He first argues that actions have moral worth when they are not performed out of inclination but only from duty. Therefore. he distinguishes that one’s conduct in promoting one’s own happiness can have moral worth when the individual acts in accordance with duty. Kant argues that the true vocation of reason must therefore be a greater cause than something as subjectively contingent as happiness – rather. rather than mere inclination. Happiness is itself a pre-condition for further moral accordance with duty. Finally. not through reason but through a duty. He conceives of this will good-in-itself as also condition for any other good thing.same end. morally. including demands for happiness. Kant acknowledges that the individual pursuit of happiness is also indirectly a duty in a negative sense. at the same time that Kant delineates the consequences of the distinction between duty and inclination. This qualifier of “deepest inclination” seems to also foreshadow the concept of a “weak duty”. He resolves the personal relationship with the natural end of happiness by considering the satisfaction of total inclination (happiness) as itself facilitating the . he also introduces a perspective where happiness can be pursued. Kant establishes his concept good will as he deemphasizes reason directed towards happiness.

and he formulates an ideal state as itself a “kingdom of ends” rather than a kingdom of means. and again when he distinguishes the hypothetical from the categorical imperative by the former’s contingency on a practical purpose. the categorical imperative is that which “represents an action as objectively necessary of itself. Kant firmly situates happiness as the one purpose.” Kant concedes that “…humanity might indeed subsist if no one contributed to the happiness of others but yet did not intentionally withdraw anything from it…”. Throughout the Groundwork. He considers a positive recognition of humanity as an . duty to others and states that “the natural end that all human beings have is their own happiness.individual to fulfill further duties. since one of Kant’s formulations of the categorical imperative states the moral law as the universal law to treat humanity as an ends. Kant’s descriptions of happiness seem to contradict or challenge each other when viewed in the context of his dichotomy between means and ends. or contingent. one end “presupposed surely and a priori in the case of every human being” that therefore clarifies the hypothetical imperative. Kant identifies the ends as that which may be brought about by a certain action (ends of a will). when during his second practical principle of the will he discusses the meritorious. Happiness therefore occupies an ambiguous liminal space between inclination and duty. and soon after identifies this as a negative fulfillment of humanity as an end in itself. without reference to another end [4:414]. the “practical necessit y of an action as a means to the promotion of happiness [4:416]”. however. Kant employs this notion of the ends when he identifies that the will without regard for the ends is the space of moral worth. The distinction between means and ends must therefore be more closely examined in relation to happiness.” Kant further complicates this conception of happiness. or something’s functional purpose. Set in contrast with this definition. This is by no means trivial.

However. that is. this consideration of duty as derived from the categorical imperative is problematic with his notion of happiness as endgoal of a hypothetical imperative. categorical imperative. a tension arises between Kant’s affirmation of happiness as the “natural end that all humans have” or the “one end that can be presupposed as actual in the case of rational beings”. ends arises again with the hypothetical vs. Kant. evacuated of any consideration of the ends. and Kant’s earlier identification of happiness as an indirect duty. simultaneously the ends of a hypothetical imperative and the means by which one may act in accordance with the categorical imperative. However. and therefore itself a means to fulfilling the good will. Though Kant recognizes the at times opposition of reason and its “true vocation to the good will” to happiness. in the prevention of temptation from fulfilling further duties. their happiness. it is conceivable that ideally. treating humanity as an ends-in-itself by furthering the ends of others by contributing to the happiness of others. having identified happiness as the a priori natural end of rational beings. reason drives the good will in accordance with duty while also furthering the individual’s happiness and the happiness of others as helping them achieve their .end in itself to be the situation where everyone tries to further the ends of others. as the source of all derived imperatives of duty. Kant describes the categorical imperative. considers the act of furthering the ends of others in accordance with the notion of treating humanity as an end in itself. happiness occupies a liminal space between hypothetical and categorical imperative. within Kant’s moral system. He adds that duty can be expressed “by no means” of any hypothetical or contingent imperatives [4:425]. Again. consistent with the second formulation of the categorical imperative. This tension between happiness as a means vs. Therefore. Kant considers happiness as duty in the negative sense.

Yet. while at the same time remaining.natural ends. according to Kant. What is happiness if it is simultaneously a means to fulfilling moral duty and the natural end of the individual? . Happiness therefore may challenge Kant’s binary notion of means and ends and demand an expansion of the concept. it is itself also a means to fulfill other duties. this analysis yields yet another complication in that considering happiness to indirectly be another duty. the “natural end of human beings”.

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