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PREFACE. - Immanuel Kant, The Metaphysics of Ethics 
The Metaphysics of Ethics by Immanuel Kant, trans. J.W. Semple, ed. with Iintroduction by Rev. Henry Calderwood (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1886) (3rd edition).
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THE Metaphysic of Ethics was intended to follow the dissertation on the à priori operations of the will. It divides itself into the metaphysical elements of law and the metaphysical elements of morals (ethics in the stricter sense), and constitutes the anti-part to my previous work, the metaphysical elements of natural philosophy.
Jurisprudence is the first part of general ethics. The desideratum with regard to it, is to have a system evolved by pure reason from principles à priori, and such a system would be the metaphysic of law. But since law, although a pure notion, is intended to apply to cases presented in observation and experience, a metaphysic system of it must embrace the à posteriori diversities of such cases, to render it complete. Again, since no classification of what is merely à posteriori and contingent can be complete or certainly pronounced such, and an approximation only to systematic unity is possible, the à posteriori conceptions cannot be introduced as integral parts of the system, but can only be adduced by way of example in notes. This circumstance, however, induces me to term the first part of the Metaphysic of Ethics, the Metaphysical elements of Law only, because, in reference to such practical cases, no system, but merely an approximation to it, is to be looked for. I shall therefore here, as formerly in the Metaphysic Elements of Natural Philosophy, print in the text that part of law which is strictly systematic and à priori; and that part which regards given cases in experience, I shall discuss in notes, since otherwise it would not be clear what ought to be considered as metaphysics, and what as practical law.
I do not know how I can remove, or how better anticipate, the reproach of obscurity with which I am so often taunted, and not simply of obscurity, but of a studied and affected depth of thought, than by using the words of Professor Garve, a philosopher in the true sense of the word, in whose opinion I heartily concur, and whose rule I will endeavour to follow, in so far as the nature of my subject may permit.
Professor Garve desires (Vermischte Aufsätze, p. 352) that every philosophic doctrine be made capable of a popular exposition, otherwise the author is to be deemed chargeable with confusion in his own ideas. This I willingly admit, except with regard to an investigation into the reach and extent of the faculty of reason itself, and of such cognate inquiries as rest on the originary function and use of reason; for there the inquiry always turns on exactly discriminating betwixt the sensible and the supersensible, in so far as this last may be the product of reason. Distinctions like these can never be made popular, nor indeed any formal metaphysic, although the results and conclusions arrived at may be made quite apparent to every sound understanding. In such an investigation, popularity, i.e., talking to the people in their own language and way of thinking, is quite out of the question. Scholastic exactness is indispensable, for the author is talking in the Schools; and, without such rigid terminology, we cannot advance a step in an analysis of reason.
But when pedants have the effrontery to address the public from the pulpit or the chair, in technical phraseology, calculated singly for the school, that cannot be properly charged on any philosophic system, any more than the follies of a logodædalist are to be charged on grammar. The absurdity attaches to the individual, not to the science he perverts.
It is objected that it is extremely arrogant, egotistical, nay, contemptuous, to the followers of the old systems, to assert, that, previous to the publication of my own system, there was no metaphysic science. But, to give due weight to this plausible objection, I desire that it be considered, “Whether or no there can be more than one single system of metaphysic science.” There are no doubt different modes of philosophizing, and various ways of retracing the first principles of thought, upon which afterwards, with more or less success, systems are erected, all which prepare the way, and have contributed to the establishment, of my own. But since, in the nature of things, human reason is but one, there cannot be various systems of philosophy. In other words, there is in the nature of things only one true system possible, however different and contradictory the assertions may have been with regard to each proposition in it. In the same way, the moralist asserts, and with justice, there is but one virtue, and only one doctrine of it, i.e., a single and alone system, establishing all virtues on one common principle. In like manner, the chemist maintains that there is but one chemistry; the physician, there is one alone principle of classifying diseases (that according to Brown); and each of these, although excluding the prior and elder systems, does not deny the intrinsic merits of former moralists, chemists, and physicians,—since, without their discoveries and unsuccessful essays at system, no one could have arrived at a true principle, giving systematic unity to the whole philosophy. Whenever, therefore, any one announces a system of metaphysic as the result of his own excogitation, it is exactly the same thing as if he were to say, hitherto there has been no true system; for, were he to admit a second and true system, then would there be two systems of opinion on the same subject;—different and yet true propositions—which is a contradiction. So that, when the Kantic system announces itself as that before which there was no real true philosophy, it is merely in the situation of every new system, and pretends to no more than every person must in fact pretend to, who projects a system according to his own plan.
There is an objection of still less moment, and yet not entirely to be passed over, that one of the leading features of the Kantic system is not its own, but borrowed from some cognate system of philosophy (or mathematics); for such is the discovery proclaimed by the Tübingen reviewer concerning the author’s definition of philosophy, which he had proposed as his own, and as very important, but which, it seems, had been given long ago by another in almost the same words.* I must here leave it to the private judgment of each, whether or not the words intellectualis quædam constructio could have suggested my doctrine of Time and Space, by which I distinguish so broadly betwixt mathematics and philosophy. I am confident Hausen would himself have refused to acknowledge this interpretation of his words; for the possibility of intuitions à priori, and that space is such intuition, are positions he would willingly have avoided, as, in consequence, he would have felt himself entangled in labyrinthic questions of unknown and sight-outrunning extent and intricacy. A representation made, as it were, by the understanding, was intended by this learned mathematician to signify nothing else than the drawing of lines corresponding to the conception,—where the rule alone is attended to, and the trivial errors which must be made in the actual construction are totally abstracted from, as every one may understand who considers the making lines equal in geometry.
Least of all is that objection worthy of regard which attacks the spirit of my system, by considerations drawn from the confusion wrought by those who attempt to ape it, by using some of those peculiar words which are really not capable of being supplied by any others in more common use; for the using them in common conversation deserves high reprehension, and such castigation has been administered by Mr. Nicolai, although I cannot agree with his remark, that they are to be dispensed with even in their proper field, as being a mere disguise for poverty of thought. However, the unpopular pedant is a better object of sarcasm than an ignorant dogmatist; for, in truth, the metaphysician who is strictly wedded to his system, belongs to the latter class, even though he is willingly ignorant of everything not belonging to his own school. But if, according to Shaftesbury, it is no small test of truth, that a system, particularly a practical one, can hold out against the assaults of ridicule, then, I think, the time will come when the Kantic system may laugh in turn, and with the greater justice, when it beholds the fair but airy castles of its opponents crumble to pieces at its touch, and their defenders taking fright amidst the ruins,—a destiny which inevitably awaits them.
[* ]Porro de actuali constructione hic non quæritur, cum ne possint quidem sensibiles figuræ ad rigorem definitionum effingi; sed requiritur cognitio eorum, quibus absolvitur formatio, quæ intellectualis quædam constructio est.—(C. A. Hausen, Elem. Mathem. pars i. p. 86, a. 1734.)