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BOOK I.: THE ANALYTIC OF PURE PRACTICAL REASON. - Immanuel Kant, Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason and Other Works on the Theory of Ethics 
Kant’s Critique of Practical Reason and Other Works on the Theory of Ethics, trans. Thomas Kingsmill Abbott, B.D., Fellow and Tutor of Trinity College, Dublin, 4th revised ed. (London: Kongmans, Green and Co., 1889).
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THE ANALYTIC OF PURE PRACTICAL REASON.
of the principles of pure practical reason.
§ I. —
PRACTICAL PRINCIPLES are propositions which contain a general determination of the will, having under it several practical rules. They are subjective, or Maxims, when the condition is regarded by the subject as valid only for his own will, but are objective, or practical laws, when the condition is recognised as objective, that is, valid for the will of every rational being.
Supposing that pure reason contains in itself a practical motive (126), that is, one adequate to determine the will, then there are practical laws; otherwise all practical principles will be mere maxims. In case the will of a rational being is pathologically affected, there may occur a conflict of the maxims with the practical laws recognised by itself. For example, one may make it his maxim to let no injury pass unrevenged, and yet he may see that this is not a practical law, but only his own maxim; that, on the contrary, regarded as being in one and the same maxim a rule for the will of every rational being, it must contradict itself. In natural philosophy the principles of what happens (e.g. the principle of equality of action and reaction in the communication of motion) are at the same time laws of nature; for the use of reason there is theoretical, and determined by the nature of the object. In practical philosophy, i.e. that which has to do only with the grounds of determination of the will, the principles which a man makes for himself are not laws by which one is inevitably bound; because reason in practical matters has to do with the subject, namely, with the faculty of desire, the special character of which may occasion variety in the rule. The practical rule is always a product of reason, because it prescribes action as a means to the effect. But in the case of a being with whom reason does not of itself determine the will, this rule is an imperative, i. e. a rule characterised by “shall,” which expresses the objective necessitation of the action, and signifies that if reason completely determined the will, the action would inevitably take place according to this rule. Imperatives, therefore, are objectively valid, and are quite distinct from maxims, which are subjective principles. The former either determine the conditions of the causality of the rational being as an efficient cause, i. e. merely in reference to the effect and the means of attaining it; or they determine the will only, whether it is adequate to the effect or not (127). The former would be hypothetical imperatives, and contain mere precepts of skill; the latter, on the contrary, would be categorical, and would alone be practical laws. Thus maxims are principles, but not imperatives. Imperatives themselves, however, when they are conditional (i. e. do not determine the will simply as will, but only in respect to a desired effect, that is, when they are hypothetical imperatives), are practical precepts but not laws. Laws must be sufficient to determine the will as will, even before I ask whether I have power sufficient for a desired effect, or the means necessary to produce it; hence they are categorical: otherwise they are not laws at all, because the necessity is wanting, which, if it is to be practical, must be independent on conditions which are pathological, and are therefore only contingently connected with the will. Tell a man, for example, that he must be industrious and thrifty in youth, in order that he may not want in old age; this is a correct and important practical precept of the will. But it is easy to see that in this case the will is directed to something else which it is presupposed that it desires; and as to this desire, we must leave it to the actor himself whether he looks forward to other resources than those of his own acquisition, or does not expect to be old, or thinks that in case of future necessity he will be able to make shift with little. Reason, from which alone can spring a rule involving necessity, does, indeed, give necessity to this precept (else it would not be an imperative), but this is a necessity dependent on subjective conditions, and cannot be supposed in the same degree in all subjects. But that reason may give laws it is necessary that it should only need to presuppose itself, because rules are objectively and universally valid only when they hold without any contingent subjective conditions, which distinguish one rational being from another. Now tell a man that he should never make a deceitful promise, this is a rule which only concerns his will, whether the purposes he may have can be attained thereby or not (128); it is the volition only which is to be determined à priori by that rule. If now it is found that this rule is practically right, then it is a law, because it is a categorical imperative. Thus, practical laws refer to the will only, without considering what is attained by its causality, and we may disregard this latter (as belonging to the world of sense) in order to have them quite pure.
§ II. —
All practical principles which presuppose an object (matter) of the faculty of desire as the ground of determination of the will are empirical, and can furnish no practical laws.
By the matter of the faculty of desire I mean an object the realization of which is desired. Now, if the desire for this object precedes the practical rule, and is the condition of our making it a principle, then I say (in the first place) this principle is in that case wholly empirical, for then what determines the choice is the idea of an object, and that relation of this idea to the subject by which its faculty of desire is determined to its realization. Such a relation to the subject is called the pleasure in the realization of an object. This, then, must be presupposed as a condition of the possibility of determination of the will. But it is impossible to know à priori of any idea of an object whether it will be connected with pleasure or pain, or be indifferent. In such cases, therefore, the determining principle of the choice must be empirical, and, therefore, also the practical material principle which presupposes it as a condition.
(129) In the second place, since susceptibility to a pleasure or pain can be known only empirically, and cannot hold in the same degree for all rational beings, a principle which is based on this subjective condition may serve indeed as a maxim for the subject which possesses this susceptibility, but not as a law even to him (because it is wanting in objective necessity, which must be recognised à priori); it follows, therefore, that such a principle can never furnish a practical law.
§ III. —
All material practical principles as such are of one and the same kind, and come under the general principle of self-love or private happiness.
Pleasure arising from the idea of the existence of a thing, in so far as it is to determine the desire of this thing, is founded on the susceptibility of the subject, since it depends on the presence of an object; hence it belongs to sense (feeling), and not to understanding, which expresses a relation of the idea to an object according to concepts, not to the subject according to feelings. It is then practical only in so far as the faculty of desire is determined by the sensation of agreeableness which the subject expects from the actual existence of the object. Now, a rational being’s consciousness of the pleasantness of life uninterruptedly accompanying his whole existence is happiness, and the principle which makes this the supreme ground of determination of the will is the principle of self-love. All material principles, then, which place the determining ground of the will in the pleasure or pain to be received from the existence of any object are all of the same kind (130), inasmuch as they all belong to the principle of self-love or private happiness.
All material practical rules place the determining principle of the will in the lower desires, and if there were no purely formal laws of the will adequate to determine it, then we could not admit any higher desire at all.
It is surprising that men, otherwise acute, can think it possible to distinguish between higher and lower desires, according as the ideas which are connected with the feeling of pleasure have their origin in the senses or in the understanding; for when we inquire what are the determining grounds of desire, and place them in some expected pleasantness, it is of no consequence whence the idea of this pleasing object is derived, but only how much it pleases. Whether an idea has its seat and source in the understanding or not, if it can only determine the choice by presupposing a feeling of pleasure in the subject, it follows that its capability of determining the choice depends altogether on the nature of the inner sense, namely, that this can be agreeably affected by it. However dissimilar ideas of objects may be, though they be ideas of the understanding, or even of the reason in contrast to ideas of sense, yet the feeling of pleasure, by means of which they constitute the determining principle of the will (the expected satisfaction which impels the activity to the production of the object) (131), is of one and the same kind, not only inasmuch as it can be only known empirically, but also inasmuch as it affects one and the same vital force which manifests itself in the faculty of desire, and in this respect can only differ in degree from every other ground of determination. Otherwise, how could we compare in respect of magnitude two principles of determination, the ideas of which depend upon different faculties, so as to prefer that which affects the faculty of desire in the highest degree. The same man may return unread an instructive book which he cannot again obtain, in order not to miss a hunt; he may depart in the midst of a fine speech, in order not to be late for dinner; he may leave a rational conversation, such as he otherwise values highly, to take his place at the gaming-table; he may even repulse a poor man whom he at other times takes pleasure in benefiting, because he has only just enough money in his pocket to pay for his admission to the theatre. If the determination of his will rests on the feeling of the agreeableness or disagreeableness that he expects from any cause, it is all the same to him by what sort of ideas he will be affected. The only thing that concerns him, in order to decide his choice, is, how great, how long continued, how easily obtained, and how often repeated, this agreeableness is. Just as to the man who wants money to spend, it is all the same whether the gold was dug out of the mountain or washed out of the sand, provided it is everywhere accepted at the same value; so the man who cares only for the enjoyment of life does not ask whether the ideas are of the understanding or the senses, but only how much and how great pleasure they will give for the longest time. It is only those that would gladly deny to pure reason the power of determining the will, without the presupposition of any feeling, who could deviate so far from their own exposition as to describe as quite heterogeneous what they have themselves previously brought under one and the same principle (132). Thus, for example, it is observed that we can find pleasure in the mere exercise of power, in the consciousness of our strength of mind in overcoming obstacles which are opposed to our designs, in the culture of our mental talents, etc.; and we justly call these more refined pleasures and enjoyments, because they are more in our power than others; they do not wear out, but rather increase the capacity for further enjoyment of them, and while they delight they at the same time cultivate. But to say on this account that they determine the will in a different way, and not through sense, whereas the possibility of the pleasure presupposes a feeling for it implanted in us, which is the first condition of this satisfaction; this is just as when ignorant persons that like to dabble in metaphysics imagine matter so subtle, so super-subtle, that they almost make themselves giddy with it, and then think that in this way they have conceived it as a spiritual and yet extended being. If with Epicurus we make virtue determine the will only by means of the pleasure it promises, we cannot afterwards blame him for holding that this pleasure is of the same kind as those of the coarsest senses. For we have no reason whatever to charge him with holding that the ideas by which this feeling is excited in us belong merely to the bodily senses. As far as can be conjectured, he sought the source of many of them in the use of the higher cognitive faculty; but this did not prevent him, and could not prevent him, from holding on the principle above stated, that the pleasure itself which those intellectual ideas give us, and by which alone they can determine the will, is just of the same kind. Consistency is the highest obligation of a philosopher, and yet the most rarely found. The ancient Greek schools give us more examples of it than we find in our syncretistic age, in which a certain shallow and dishonest system of compromise of contradictory principles is devised, because it commends itself better to a public (133) which is content to know something of everything and nothing thoroughly, so as to please every party. 1
The principle of private happiness, however much understanding and reason may be used in it, cannot contain any other determining principles for the will than those which belong to the lower desires; and either there are no [higher] 2 desires at all, or pure reason must of itself alone be practical: that is, it must be able to determine the will by the mere form of the practical rule without supposing any feeling, and consequently without any idea of the pleasant or unpleasant, which is the matter of the desire, and which is always an empirical condition of the principles. Then only, when reason of itself determines the will (not as the servant of the inclination), it is really a higher desire to which that which is pathologically determined is subordinate, and is really, and even specifically, distinct from the latter, so that even the slightest admixture of the motives of the latter impairs its strength and superiority; just as in a mathematical demonstration the least empirical condition would degrade and destroy its force and value. Reason, with its practical law, determines the will immediately, not by means of an intervening feeling of pleasure or pain, not even of pleasure in the law itself, and it is only because it can, as pure reason, be practical, that it is possible for it to be legislative.
To be happy is necessarily the wish of every finite rational being, and this, therefore, is inevitably a determining principle of its faculty of desire. For we are not in possession originally of satisfaction with our whole existence—a bliss which would imply a consciousness of our own independent self-sufficiency—this is a problem imposed upon us by our own finite nature, because we have wants, and these wants regard (134) the matter of our desires, that is, something that is relative to a subjective feeling of pleasure or pain, which determines what we need in order to be satisfied with our condition. But just because this material principle of determination can only be empirically known by the subject, it is impossible to regard this problem as a law; for a law being objective must contain the very same principle of determination of the will in all cases and for all rational beings. For, although the notion of happiness is in every case the foundation of the practical relation of the objects to the desires, yet it is only a general name for the subjective determining principles, and determines nothing specifically; whereas this is what alone we are concerned with in this practical problem, which cannot be solved at all without such specific determination. For it is every man’s own special feeling of pleasure and pain that decides in what he is to place his happiness, and even in the same subject this will vary with the difference of his wants according as this feeling changes, and thus a law which is subjectively necessary (as a law of nature) is objectively a very contingent practical principle, which can and must be very different in different subjects, and therefore can never furnish a law; since, in the desire for happiness it is not the form of conformity to law that is decisive, but simply the matter, namely, whether I am to expect pleasure in following the law, and how much. Principles of self-love may, indeed, contain universal precepts of skill (how to find means to accomplish one’s purposes), but in that case they are merely theoretical principles; 1 as, for example, how he who would like to eat bread (135) should contrive a mill; but practical precepts founded on them can never be universal, for the determining principle of the desire is based on the feeling of pleasure and pain, which can never be supposed to be universally directed to the same objects.
Even supposing, however, that all finite rational beings were thoroughly agreed as to what were the objects of their feelings of pleasure and pain, and also as to the means which they must employ to attain the one and avoid the other; still, they could by no means set up the principle of self-love as a practical law, for this unanimity itself would be only contingent. The principle of determination would still be only subjectively valid and merely empirical, and would not possess the necessity which is conceived in every law, namely, an objective necessity arising from à priori grounds; unless, indeed, we hold this necessity to be not at all practical, but merely physical, viz. that our action is as inevitably determined by our inclination, as yawning when we see others yawn. It would be better to maintain that there are no practical laws at all, but only counsels for the service of our desires, than to raise merely subjective principles to the rank of practical laws, which have objective necessity, and not merely subjective, and which must be known by reason à priori, not by experience (however empirically universal this may be). Even the rules of corresponding phenomena are only called laws of nature (e. g. the mechanical laws), when we either know them really à priori, or (as in the case of chemical laws) suppose that they would be known à priori from objective grounds if our insight reached further. But in the case of merely subjective practical principles, it is expressly made a condition (136) that they rest not on objective but on subjective conditions of choice, and hence that they must always be represented as mere maxims; never as practical laws. This second remark seems at first sight to be mere verbal refinement, but it defines 1 the terms of the most important distinction which can come into consideration in practical investigations.
§ IV. —
A rational being cannot regard his maxims as practical universal laws, unless he conceives them as principles which determine the will, not by their matter, but by their form only.
By the matter of a practical principle I mean the object of the will. This object is either the determining ground of the will or it is not. In the former case the rule of the will is subjected to an empirical condition (viz. the relation of the determining idea to the feeling of pleasure and pain), consequently it cannot be a practical law. Now, when we abstract from a law all matter, i. e. every object of the will (as a determining principle), nothing is left but the mere form of a universal legislation. Therefore, either a rational being cannot conceive his subjective practical principles, that is, his maxims, as being at the same time universal laws, or he must suppose that their mere form, by which they are fitted for universal legislation, is alone what makes them practical laws.
The commonest understanding can distinguish without instruction what form of maxim is adapted for universal legislation, and what is not. Suppose, for example, that I have made it my maxim to increase my fortune by every safe means. Now, I have a deposit in my hands, the owner of which is dead and has left no writing about it. This is just the case for my maxim. I desire then to know whether that maxim can also hold good as a universal practical law. I apply it, therefore, to the present case, and ask whether it could take the form of a law, and consequently whether I can by my maxim at the same time give such a law as this, that everyone may deny a deposit of which no one can produce a proof. I at once become aware that such a principle, viewed as a law, would annihilate itself, because the result would be that there would be no deposits. A practical law which I recognize as such must be qualified for universal legislation; this is an identical proposition, and therefore self-evident. Now, if I say that my will is subject to a practical law, I cannot adduce my inclination (e. g. in the present case my avarice) as a principle of determination fitted to be a universal practical law; for this is so far from being fitted for a universal legislation that, if put in the form of a universal law, it would destroy itself.
It is, therefore, surprising that intelligent men could have thought of calling the desire of happiness a universal practical law on the ground that the desire is universal, and, therefore, also the maxim by which everyone makes this desire determine his will. For whereas in other cases a universal law of nature makes everything harmonious; here, on the contrary, if we attribute to the maxim the universality of a law, the extreme opposite of harmony will follow, the greatest opposition, and the complete (138) destruction of the maxim itself, and its purpose. For, in that case, the will of all has not one and the same object, but everyone has his own (his private welfare), which may accidentally accord with the purposes of others which are equally selfish, but it is far from sufficing for a law; because the occasional exceptions which one is permitted to make are endless, and cannot be definitely embraced in one universal rule. In this manner, then, results a harmony like that which a certain satirical poem depicts as existing between a married couple bent on going to ruin, “O, marvellous harmony, what he wishes, she wishes also;” or like what is said of the pledge of Francis I. to the emperor Charles V., “What my brother Charles wishes that I wish also” (viz. Milan). Empirical principles of determination are not fit for any universal external legislation, but just as little for internal; for each man makes his own subject the foundation of his inclination, and in the same subject sometimes one inclination, sometimes another, has the preponderance. To discover a law which would govern them all under this condition, namely, bringing them all into harmony, is quite impossible.
§ V. —
Supposing that the mere legislative form of maxims is alone the sufficient determining principle of a will, to find the nature of the will which can be determined by it alone.
Since the bare form of the law can only be conceived by reason, and is, therefore, not an object of the senses, and consequently does not belong to the class of phenomena, it follows that the idea of it (139), which determines the will, is distinct from all the principles that determine events in nature according to the law of causality, because in their case the determining principles must themselves be phenomena. Now, if no other determining principle can serve as a law for the will except that universal legislative form, such a will must be conceived as quite independent on the natural law of phenomena in their mutual relation, namely, the law of causality; such independence is called freedom in the strictest, that is in the transcendental sense; consequently, a will which can have its law in nothing but the mere legislative form of the maxim is a free will.
§ VI. —
Supposing that a will is free, to find the law which alone is competent to determine it necessarily.
Since the matter of the practical law, i. e. an object of the maxim, can never be given otherwise than empirically, and the free will is independent on empirical conditions (that is, conditions belonging to the world of sense) and yet is determinable, consequently a free will must find its principle of determination in the law, and yet independently of the matter of the law. But, besides the matter of the law, nothing is contained in it except the legislative form. It is the legislative form, then, contained in the maxim, which can alone constitute a principle of determination of the [free] will.
Thus freedom and an unconditional practical law reciprocally imply each other. Now I do not ask here whether they are in fact distinct, or whether an unconditioned law is not rather merely the consciousness of a pure practical reason, and the latter identical with the positive concept of freedom; I only ask, whence begins our knowledge of the unconditionally practical, whether it is from freedom or from the practical law? Now it cannot begin from freedom, for of this we cannot be immediately conscious, since the first concept of it is negative; nor can we infer it from experience, for experience gives us the knowledge only of the law of phenomena, and hence of the mechanism of nature, the direct opposite of freedom. It is therefore the moral law, of which we become directly conscious (as soon as we trace for ourselves maxims of the will), that first presents itself to us, and leads directly to the concept of freedom, inasmuch as reason presents it as a principle of determination not to be outweighed by any sensible conditions, nay, wholly independent of them. But how is the consciousness of that moral law possible? We can become conscious of pure practical laws just as we are conscious of pure theoretical principles, by attending to the necessity with which reason prescribes them, and to the elimination of all empirical conditions, which it directs. The concept of a pure will arises out of the former, as that of a pure understanding arises out of the latter. That this is the true subordination of our concepts, and that it is morality that first discovers to us the notion of freedom, hence that it is practical reason which, with this concept, first proposes to speculative reason the most insoluble problem, thereby placing it in the greatest perplexity, is evident from the following consideration:—Since nothing in phenomena can be explained by the concept of freedom, but the mechanism of nature must constitute the only clue (141); moreover, when pure reason tries to ascend in the series of causes to the unconditioned, it falls into an antinomy which is entangled in incomprehensibilities on the one side as much as the other; whilst the latter (namely, mechanism) is at least useful in the explanation of phenomena, therefore no one would ever have been so rash as to introduce freedom into science, had not the moral law, and with it practical reason, come in and forced this notion upon us. Experience, however, confirms this order of notions. Suppose some one asserts of his lustful appetite that, when the desired object and the opportunity are present, it is quite irresistible. [Ask him]—if a gallows were erected before the house where he finds this opportunity, in order that he should be hanged thereon immediately after the gratification of his lust, whether he could not then control his passion; we need not be long in doubt what he would reply. Ask him, however—if his sovereign ordered him, 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.
§ VII. —
Fundamental Law of the Pure Practical Reason.
Act so that the maxim of thy will can always at the same time hold good as a principle of universal legislation.
Pure geometry has postulates which are practical propositions, but contain nothing further than the assumption that we can do something if it is required that we should do it, and these are the only geometrical propositions that concern actual existence. They are, then, practical rules under a problematical condition of the will; but here the rule says:—We absolutely must proceed in a certain manner. The practical rule is, therefore, unconditional, and hence it is conceived à priori as a categorically practical proposition by which the will is objectively determined absolutely and immediately (by the practical rule itself, which thus is in this case a law); for pure reason practical of itself is here directly legislative. The will is thought as independent on empirical conditions, and, therefore, as pure will determined by the mere form of the law, and this principle of determination is regarded as the supreme condition of all maxims. The thing is strange enough, and has no parallel in all the rest of our practical knowledge. For the à priori thought of a possible universal legislation which is therefore merely problematical, is unconditionally commanded as a law without borrowing anything from experience or from any external will. This, however, is not a precept to do something by which some desired effect can be attained (for then the will would depend on physical conditions), but a rule that determines the will à priori only so far as regards the forms of its maxims; and thus it is at least not impossible to conceive that a law, which only applies to the subjective form of principles, yet serves as a principle of determination by means of the objective form of law in general. We may call the consciousness of this fundamental law a fact of reason, because we cannot reason it out from antecedent data of reason, e. g. the consciousness of freedom (for this is not antecedently given), but it forces itself on us as a synthetic à priori proposition (143), which is not based on any intuition, either pure or empirical. It would, indeed, be analytical if the freedom of the will were presupposed, but to presuppose freedom as a positive concept would require an intellectual intuition, which cannot here be assumed; however, when we regard this law as given, it must be observed, in order not to fall into any misconception that it is not an empirical fact, but the sole fact of the pure reason, which thereby announces itself as originally legislative (sic volo, sic jubeo).
Pure reason is practical of itself alone, and gives (to man) a universal law which we call the Moral Law.
The fact just mentioned is undeniable. It is only necessary to analyse the judgment that men pass on the lawfulness of their actions, in order to find that, whatever inclination may say to the contrary, reason, incorruptible and self-constrained, always confronts the maxim of the will in any action with the pure will, that is, with itself, considering itself as à priori practical. Now this principle of morality, just on account of the universality of the legislation which makes it the formal supreme determining principle of the will, without regard to any subjective differences, is declared by the reason to be a law for all rational beings, in so far as they have a will, that is, a power to determine their causality by the conception of rules; and, therefore, so far as they are capable of acting according to principles, and consequently also according to practical à priori principles (for these alone have the necessity that reason requires in a principle). It is, therefore, not limited to men only, but applies to all finite beings that possess reason and will (144); nay, it even includes the Infinite Being as the supreme intelligence. In the former case, however, the law has the form of an imperative, because in them, as rational beings, we can suppose a pure will, but being creatures affected with wants and physical motives, not a holy will, that is, one which would be incapable of any maxim conflicting with the moral law. In their case, therefore, the moral law is an imperative, which commands categorically, because the law is unconditioned; the relation of such a will to this law is dependence under the name of obligation, which implies a constraint to an action, though only by reason and its objective law; and this action is called duty, because an elective will, subject to pathological affections (though not determined by them, and therefore still free), implies a wish that arises from subjective causes, and therefore may often be opposed to the pure objective determining principle; whence it requires the moral constraint of a resistance of the practical reason, which may be called an internal, but intellectual compulsion. In the supreme intelligence the elective will is rightly conceived as incapable of any maxim which could not at the same time be objectively a law; and the notion of holiness, which on that account belongs to it, places it, not indeed above all practical laws, but above all pratically restrictive laws, and consequently above obligation and duty. This holiness of will is, however, a practical idea, which must necessarily serve as a type to which finite rational beings can only approximate indefinitely, and which the pure moral law, which is itself on this account called holy, constantly and rightly holds before their eyes. The utmost that finite practical reason can effect is to be certain of this indefinite progress of one’s maxims, and of their steady disposition to advance. This is virtue, and virtue, at least as a naturally acquired faculty, can never be perfect, because assurance in such a case never becomes apodictic certainty, and when it only amounts to persuasion is very dangerous.
§ VIII. —
The autonomy of the will is the sole principle of all moral laws, and of all duties which conform to them; on the other hand, heteronomy of the elective will not only cannot be the basis of any obligation, but is, on the contrary, opposed to the principle thereof, and to the morality of the will.
In fact the sole principle of morality consists in the independence on all matter of the law (namely, a desired object), and in the determination of the elective will by the mere universal legislative form of which its maxim must be capable. Now this independence is freedom in the negative sense, and this self-legislation of the pure, and, therefore, practical reason, is freedom in the positive sense. Thus the moral law expresses nothing else than the autonomy of the pure practical reason; that is, freedom; and this is itself the formal condition of all maxims, and on this condition only can they agree with the supreme practical law. If therefore the matter of the volition, which can be nothing else than the object of a desire that is connected with the law, enters into the practical law, as the condition of its possibility, there results heteronomy of the elective will, namely, dependence on the physical law that we should follow some impulse or inclination. In that case the will does not give itself the law, but only the precept how rationally to follow pathological law; and the maxim which, in such a case, never contains the universally legislative form, not only produces no obligation, but is itself opposed to the principle of a pure practical reason, and, therefore, also to the moral disposition, even though the resulting action may be conformable to the law.
Hence a practical precept, which contains a material (and therefore empirical) condition, must never be reckoned a practical law. For the law of the pure will, which is free, brings the will into a sphere quite different from the empirical; and as the necessity involved in the law is not a physical necessity, it can only consist in the formal conditions of the possibility of a law in general. All the matter of practical rules rests on subjective conditions, which give them only a conditional universality (in case I desire this or that, what I must do in order to obtain it), and they all turn on the principle of private happiness. Now, it is indeed undeniable that every volition must have an object, and therefore a matter; but it does not follow that this is the determining principle, and the condition of the maxim; for, if it is so, then this cannot be exhibited in a universally legislative form, since in that case the expectation of the existence of the object would be the determining cause of the choice, and the volition must presuppose the dependence of the faculty of desire on the existence of something; but this dependence can only be sought in empirical conditions, and therefore can never furnish a foundation for a necessary and universal rule. Thus, the happiness of others may be the object of the will of a rational being. But if it were the determining principle of the maxim, we must assume that we find not only a rational satisfaction in the welfare of others, but also a want such as the sympathetic disposition in some men occasions. But I cannot assume the existence of this want in every rational being (not at all in God). The matter then of the maxim may remain, but it must not be the condition of it, else the maxim could not be fit for a law. Hence, the mere form of law, which limits the matter, must also be a reason (147) for adding this matter to the will, not for presupposing it. For example, let the matter be my own happiness. This (rule), if I attribute it to everyone (as, in fact, I may, in the case of every finite being), can become an objective practical law only if I include the happiness of others. Therefore, the law that we should promote the happiness of others does not arise from the assumption that this is an object of everyone’s choice, but merely from this, that the form of universality which reason requires as the condition of giving to a maxim of self-love the objective validity of a law, is the principle that determines the will. Therefore it was not the object (the happiness of others) that determined the pure will, but it was the form of law only, by which I restricted my maxim, founded on inclination, so as to give it the universality of a law, and thus to adapt it to the practical reason; and it is this restriction alone, and not the adddition of an external spring, that can give rise to the notion of the obligation to extend the maxim of my self-love to the happiness of others.
The direct opposite of the principle of morality is, when the principle of private happiness is made the determining principle of the will, and with this is to be reckoned, as I have shown above, everything that places the determining principle which is to serve as a law anywhere but in the legislative form of the maxim. This contradiction, however, is not merely logical, like that which would arise between rules empirically conditioned, if they were raised to the rank of necessary principles of cognition, but is practical, and would ruin morality altogether were not the voice of reason in reference to the will so clear, so irrepressible, so distinctly audible even, to the commonest men. It can only, indeed, be maintained in the perplexing (148) speculations of the schools, which are bold enough to shut their ears against that heavenly voice, in order to support a theory that costs no trouble.
Suppose that an acquaintance whom you otherwise liked were to attempt to justify himself to you for having borne false witness, first by alleging the, in his view, sacred duty of consulting his own happiness; then by enumerating the advantages which he had gained thereby, pointing out the prudence he had shown in securing himself against detection, even by yourself, to whom he now reveals the secret, only in order that he may be able to deny it at any time; and suppose he were then to affirm, in all seriousness, that he has fulfilled a true human duty; you would either laugh in his face, or shrink back from him with disgust; and yet, if a man has regulated his principles of action solely with a view to his own advantage, you would have nothing whatever to object against this mode of proceeding. Or suppose some one recommends you a man as steward, as a man to whom you can blindly trust all your affairs; and, in order to inspire you with confidence, extols him as a prudent man who thoroughly understands his own interest, and is so indefatigably active that he lets slip no opportunity of advancing it; lastly, lest you should be afraid of finding a vulgar selfishness in him, praises the good taste with which he lives; not seeking his pleasure in money-making, or in coarse wantonness, but in the enlargement of his knowledge, in instructive intercourse with a select circle, and even in relieving the needy; while as to the means (which, of course, derive all their value from the end) he is not particular, and is ready to use other people’s money for the purpose as if it were his own, provided only he knows that he can do so safely, and without discovery; you would either believe that the recommender was mocking you, or that he had lost his senses. So sharply and clearly marked are the boundaries of morality and self-love that even the commonest eye (149) cannot fail to distinguish whether a thing belongs to the one or the other. The few remarks that follow may appear superfluous where the truth is so plain, but at least they may serve to give a little more distinctness to the judgment of common sense.
The principle of happiness may, indeed, furnish maxims, but never such as would be competent to be laws of the will, even if universal happiness were made the object. For since the knowledge of this rests on mere empirical data, since every man’s judgment on it depends very much on his particular point of view, which is itself moreover very variable, it can supply only general rules, not universal; that is, it can give rules which on the average will most frequently fit, but not rules which must hold good always and necessarily; hence, no practical laws can be founded on it. Just because in this case an object of choice is the foundation of the rule, and must therefore precede it; the rule can refer to nothing but what is [felt] 1 , and therefore it refers to experience and is founded on it, and then the variety of judgment must be endless. This principle, therefore, does not prescribe the same practical rules to all rational beings, although the rules are all included under a common title, namely, that of happiness. The moral law, however, is conceived as objectively necessary, only because it holds for everyone that has reason and will.
The maxim of self-love (prudence) only advises; the law of morality commands. Now there is a great difference between that which we are advised to do and that to which we are obliged.
The commonest intelligence can easily and without hesitation see what, on the principle of autonomy of the will, requires to be done; but on supposition of heteronomy of the will, it is hard and requires knowledge of the world to see what is to be done. That is to say, what duty is, in plain of itself to everyone; but what is to bring true durable advantage, such as will extend to the whole of one’s existence (150), is always veiled in impenetrable obscurity; and much prudence is required to adapt the practical rule founded on it to the ends of life, even tolerably, by making proper exceptions. But the moral law commands the most punctual obedience from everyone; it must, therefore, not be so difficult to judge what it requires to be done, that the commonest unpractised understanding, even without worldly prudence, should fail to apply it rightly.
It is always in everyone’s power to satisfy the categorical command of morality; whereas it is but seldom possible, and by no means so to everyone, to satisfy the empirically conditioned precept of happiness, even with regard to a single purpose. The reason is, that in the former case there is question only of the maxim, which must be genuine and pure; but in the latter case there is question also of one’s capacity and physical power to realise a desired object. A command that everyone should try to make himself happy would be foolish, for one never commands anyone to do what he of himself infallibly wishes to do. We must only command the means, or rather supply them, since he cannot do everything that he wishes. But to command morality under the name of duty is quite rational; for, in the first place, not everyone is willing to obey its precepts if they oppose his inclinations; and as to the means of obeying this law, these need not in this case be taught, for in this respect whatever he wishes to do he can do.
He who has lost at play may be vexed at himself and his folly, but if he is conscious of having cheated at play (although he has gained thereby), he must despise himself as soon as he compares himself with the moral law. This must, therefore, be something different from the principle of private happiness. For a man must have a different criterion when he is compelled to say to himself: I am a worthless fellow, though I have filled my purse; and when he approves himself (151), and says: I am a prudent man, for I have enriched my treasure.
Finally, there is something further in the idea of our practical reason, which accompanies the transgression of a moral law—namely, its ill desert. Now the notion of punishment, as such, cannot be united with that of becoming a partaker of happiness; for although he who inflicts the punishment may at the same time have the benevolent purpose of directing this punishment to this end, yet it must first be justified in itself as punishment, i. e. as mere harm, so that if it stopped there, and the person punished could get no glimpse of kindness hidden behind this harshness, he must yet admit that justice was done him, and that his reward was perfectly suitable to his conduct. In every punishment, as such, there must first be justice, and this constitutes the essence of the notion. Benevolence may, indeed, be united with it, but the man who has deserved punishment has not the least reason to reckon upon this. Punishment, then, is a physical evil, which, though it be not connected with moral evil as a natural consequence, ought to be connected with it as a consequence by the principles of a moral legislation. Now, if every crime, even without regarding the physical consequence with respect to the actor, is in itself punishable, that is, forfeits happiness (at least partially), it is obviously absurd to say that the crime consisted just in this, that he has drawn punishment on himself, thereby injuring his private happiness (which, on the principle of self-love, must be the proper notion of all crime). According to this view the punishment would be the reason for calling anything a crime, and justice would, on the contrary, consist in omitting all punishment, and even preventing that which naturally follows; for, if this were done, there would no longer be any evil in the action, since the harm which otherwise followed it, and on account of which alone the action was called evil, would now be prevented. To look, however, on all rewards and punishments as merely the machinery in the hand (152) of a higher power, which is to serve only to set rational creatures striving after their final end (happiness), this is to reduce the will to a mechanism destructive of freedom; this is so evident that it need not detain us.
More refined, though equally false, is the theory of those who suppose a certain special moral sense, which sense and not reason determines the moral law, and in consequence of which the consciousness of virtue is supposed to be directly connected with contentment and pleasure; that of vice, with mental dissatisfaction and pain; thus reducing the whole to the desire of private happiness. Without repeating what has been said above, I will here only remark the fallacy they fall into. In order to imagine the vicious man as tormented with mental dissatisfaction by the consciousness of his transgressions, they must first represent him as in the main basis of his character, at least in some degree, morally good; just as he who is pleased with the consciousness of right conduct must be conceived as already virtuous. The notion of morality and duty must, therefore, have preceded any regard to this satisfaction, and cannot be derived from it. A man must first appreciate the importance of what we call duty, the authority of the moral law, and the immediate dignity which the following of it gives to the person in his own eyes, in order to feel that satisfaction in the consciousness of his conformity to it, and the bitter remorse that accompanies the consciousness of its transgression. It is, therefore, impossible to feel this satisfaction or dissatisfaction prior to the knowledge of obligation, or to make it the basis of the latter. A man must be at least half honest in order even to be able to form a conception of these feelings. I do not deny that as the human will is, by virtue of liberty capable of being immediately determined by the moral law, so frequent practice in accordance with this principle of determination can, at last, produce subjectively a feeling of satisfaction (153); on the contrary, it is a duty to establish and to cultivate this, which alone deserves to be called properly the moral feeling; but the notion of duty cannot be derived from it, else we should have to suppose a feeling for the law as such, and thus make that an object of sensation which can only be thought by the reason; and this, if it is not to be a flat contradiction, would destroy all notion of duty, and put in its place a mere mechanical play of refined inclinations sometimes contending with the coarser.
If now we compare our formal supreme principle of pure practical reason (that of autonomy of the will) with all previous material principles or morality, we can exhibit them all in a table in which all possible cases are exhausted, except the one formal principle; and thus we can show visibly that it is vain to look for any other principle than that now proposed. In fact all possible principles of determination of the will are either merely subjective, and therefore empirical, or are also objective and rational; and both are either external or internal.
(154) Practical Material Principles of Determination taken as the Foundation of Morality, are:—
(155) Those at the left hand are all empirical, and evidently incapable of furnishing the universal principle of morality; but those on the right hand are based on reason (for perfection as a quality of things, and the highest perfection conceived as substance, that is, God, can only be thought by means of rational concepts). But the former notion, namely, that of perfection, may either be taken in a theoretic signification, and then it means nothing but the completeness of each thing in its own kind (transcendental), or that of a thing, merely as a thing (metaphysical); and with that we are not concerned here. But the notion of perfection in a practical sense is the fitness or sufficiency of a thing for all sorts of purposes. This perfection, as a quality of man, and consequently internal, is nothing but talent, and, what strengthens or completes this, skill. Supreme perfection conceived as substance, that is God, and consequently external (considered practically), is the sufficiency of this being for all ends. Ends then must first be given, relatively to which only can the notion of perfection (whether internal in ourselves or external in God) be the determining principle of the will. But an end—being an object which must precede the determination of the will by a practical rule, and contain the ground of the possibility of this determination, and therefore contain also the matter of the will, taken as its determining principle—such an end is always empirical, and, therefore, may serve for the Epicurean principle of the happiness theory, but not for the pure rational principle of morality and duty. Thus, talents and the improvement of them, because they contribute to the advantages of life; or the will of God, if agreement with it be taken as the object of the will, without any antecedent independent practical principle, can be motives only by reason of the happiness expected therefrom. Hence it follows, first, that all the principles here stated are material; secondly, that they include all possible material principles (156); and, finally, the conclusion, that since material principles are quite incapable of furnishing the supreme moral law (as has been shown), the formal practical principle of the pure reason (according to which the mere form of a universal legislation must constitute the supreme and immediate determining principle of the will) is the only one possible which is adequate to furnish categorical imperatives; that is, practical laws (which make actions a duty); and in general to serve as the principle of morality, both in criticising conduct and also in its application to the human will to determine it.
—Of the Deduction of the Fundamental Principles of the Pure Practical Reason.
This Analytic shows that pure reason can be practical, that is, can of itself determine the will independently of anything empirical; and this it proves by a fact in which pure reason in us proves itself actually practical, namely, the autonomy shown in the fundamental principle of morality, by which reason determines the will to action.
It shows at the same time that this fact is inseparably connected with the consciousness of freedom of the will; nay, is identical with it; and by this the will of a rational being, although as belonging to the world of sense, it recognises itself as necessarily subject to the laws of causality like other efficient causes; yet, at the same time, on another side, namely, as a being in itself, is conscious of existing in and being determined by an intelligible order of things; conscious not (157) by virtue of a specal intuition of itself, but by virtue of certain dynamical laws which determine its causality in the sensible world; for it has been elsewhere proved that if freedom is predicated of us, it transports us into an intelligible order of things.
Now, if we compare with this the analytical part of the critique of pure speculative reason, we shall see a remarkable contrast. There it was not fundamental principles, but pure, sensible intuition (space and time), that was the first datum that made à priori knowledge possible, though only of objects of the senses. Synthetical principles could not be derived from mere concepts without intuition; on the contrary, they could only exist with reference to this intuition, and therefore to objects of possible experience, since it is the concepts of the understanding, united with this intuition, which alone make that knowledge possible which we call experience. Beyond objects of experience, and therefore with regard to things as noumena, all positive knowledge was rightly disclaimed for speculative reason. This reason, however, went so far as to establish with certainty the concept of noumena; that is, the possibility, nay the necessity, of thinking them; for example, it showed against all objections that the supposition of freedom, negatively considered, was quite consistent with those principles and limitations of pure theoretic reason. But it could not give us any definite enlargement of our knowledge with respect to such objects, but, on the contrary, cut off all view of them altogether.
On the other hand, the moral law, although it gives no view, yet gives us a fact absolutely inexplicable from any data of the sensible world, and the whole compass of our theoretical use of reason, a fact which points to a pure world of the understanding (158), nay, even defines it positively, and enables us to know something of it, namely, a law.
This law (as far as rational beings are concerned) gives to the world of sense, which is a sensible system of nature, the form of a world of the understanding, that is, of a supersensible system of nature, without interfering with its mechanism. Now, a system of nature, in the most general sense, is the existence of things under laws. The sensible nature of rational beings in general is their existence under laws empirically conditioned, which, from the point of view of reason, is heteronomy. The supersensible nature of the same beings, on the other hand, is their existence according to laws which are independent on every empirical condition, and therefore belong to the autonomy of pure reason. And, since the laws by which the existence of things depends on cognition are practical, supersensible nature, so far as we can form any notion of it, is nothing else than a system of nature under the autonomy of pure practical reason. Now, the law of this autonomy is the moral law, which, therefore, is the fundamental law of a supersensible nature, and of a pure world of understanding, whose counterpart must exist in the world of sense, but without interfering with its laws. We might call the former the archetypal world (natura archetypa), which we only know in the reason; and the latter the ectypal world (natura ectypa), because it contains the possible effect of the idea of the former which is the determining principle of the will. For the moral law, in fact, transfers us ideally into a system in which pure reason, if it were accompanied with adequate physical power, would produce the summum bonum, and it determines our will to give the sensible world the form of a system of rational beings. 1
The least attention to oneself proves that this idea really serves as the model for the determinations of our will.
(159) When the maxim which I am disposed to follow in giving testimony is tested by the practical reason, I always consider what it would be if it were to hold as a universal law of nature. It is manifest that in this view it would oblige everyone to speak the truth. For it cannot hold as a universal law of nature that statements should be allowed to have the force of proof, and yet to be purposely untrue. Similarly, the maxim which I adopt with respect to disposing freely of my life is at once determined, when I ask myself what it should be, in order that a system, of which it is the law, should maintain itself. It is obvious that in such a system no one could arbitrarily put an end to his own life, for such an arrangement would not be a permanent order of things. And so in all similar cases. Now, in nature, as it actually is an object of experience, the free will is not of itself determined to maxims which could of themselves be the foundation of a natural system of universal laws, or which could even be adapted to a system so constituted; on the contrary, its maxims are private inclinations which constitute, indeed, a natural whole in conformity with pathological (physical) laws, but could not form part of a system of nature, which would only be possible through our will acting in accordance with pure practical laws. Yet we are, through reason, conscious of a law to which all our maxims are subject, as though a natural order must be originated from our will. This law, therefore, must be the idea of a natural system not given in experience, and yet possible through freedom; a system, therefore, which is supersensible, and to which we give objective reality, at least in a practical point of view, since we look on it as an object of our will as pure rational beings.
Hence the distinction between the laws of a natural system to which the will is subject, and of a natural system which is subject to a will (as far as its relation to its free actions is concerned) (160) rests on this, that in the former the objects must be causes of the ideas which determine the will; whereas in the latter the will is the cause of the objects; so that its causality has its determining principle solely in the pure faculty of reason, which may therefore be called a pure practical reason.
There are therefore two very distinct problems: how, on the one side, pure reason can cognise objects à priori, and how on the other side it can be an immediate determining principle of the will, that is, of the causality of the rational being with respect to the reality of objects (through the mere thought of the universal validity of its own maxims as laws).
The former, which belongs to the critique of the pure speculative reason, requires a previous explanation, how intuitions, without which no object can be given, and, therefore, none known synthetically, are possible à priori; and its solution turns out to be that these are all only sensible, and therefore do not render possible any speculative knowledge which goes further than possible experience reaches; and that therefore all the principles of that pure speculative 1 reason avail only to make experience possible; either experience of given objects or of those that may be given ad infinitum, but never are completely given.
The latter, which belongs to the critique of practical reason, requires no explanation how the objects of the faculty of desire are possible, for that being a problem of the theoretical knowledge of nature, is left to the critique of the speculative reason, but only how reason can determine the maxims of the will; whether this takes place only by means of empirical ideas as principles of determination, or whether pure reason can be practical and be the law of a possible order of nature, which is not empirically knowable (161). The possibility of such a supersensible system of nature, the conception of which can also be the ground of its reality through our own free will, does not require any à priori intuition (of an intelligible world) which, being in this case supersensible, would be impossible for us. For the question is only as to the determining principle of volition in its maxims, namely, whether it is empirical, or is a conception of the pure reason (having the legal character belonging to it in general), and how it can be the latter. It is left to the theoretic principles of reason to decide whether the causality of the will suffices for the realization of the objects or not, this being an inquiry into the possibility of the objects of the volition. Intuition of these objects is therefore of no importance to the practical problem. We are here concerned only with the determination of the will and the determining principles of its maxims as a free will, not at all with the result. For, provided only that the will conforms to the law of pure reason, then let its power in execution be what it may, whether according to these maxims of legislation of a possible system of nature any such system really results or not, this is no concern of the critique, which only inquires whether, and in what way, pure reason can be practical, that is, directly determine the will.
In this inquiry criticism may and must begin with pure practical laws and their reality. But instead of intuition it takes as their foundation the conception of their existence in the intelligible world, namely, the concept of freedom. For this concept has no other meaning, and these laws are only possible in relation to freedom of the will; but freedom being supposed, they are necessary; or conversely, freedom is necessary because those laws are necessary, being practical postulates. It cannot be further explained how this consciousness of the moral law, or, what is the same thing, of freedom, is possible; but that it is admissible is well established in the theoretical critique.
(162) The Exposition of the supreme principle of practical reason is now finished; that is to say, it has been shown first, what it contains, that it subsists for itself quite à priori and independent on empirical principles; and next, in what it is distinguished from all other practical principles. With the deduction, that is, the justification of its objective and universal validity, and the discernment of the possibility of such a synthetical proposition à priori, we cannot expect to succeed so well as in the case of the principles of pure theoretical reason. For these referred to objects of possible experience, namely, to phenomena, and we could prove that these phenomena could be known as objects of experience only by being brought under the categories in accordance with these laws; and consequently that all possible experience must conform to these laws. But I could not proceed in this way with the deduction of the moral law. For this does not concern the knowledge of the properties of objects, which may be given to the reason from some other source; but a knowledge which can itself be the ground of the existence of the objects, and by which reason in a rational being has causality, i. e. pure reason, which can be regarded as a faculty immediately determining the will.
Now all our human insight is at an end as soon as we have arrived at fundamental powers or faculties, for the possibility of these cannot be understood by any means, and just as little should it be arbitrarily invented and assumed. Therefore, in the theoretic use of reason, it is experience alone that can justify us in assuming them. But this expedient of adducing empirical proofs, instead of a deduction from à priori sources of knowledge, is denied us here in respect to the pure practical faculty of reason (163). For whatever requires to draw the proof of its reality from experience must depend for the grounds of its possibility on principles of experience; and pure, yet practical, reason by its very notion cannot be regarded as such. Further, the moral law is given as a fact of pure reason of which we are à priori conscious, and which is apodictically certain, though it be granted that in experience no example of its exact fulfilment can be found. Hence, the objective reality of the moral law cannot be proved by any deduction by any efforts of theoretical reason, whether speculative or empirically supported, and therefore, even if we renounced its apodictic certainty, it could not be proved à posteriori by experience, and yet it is firmly established of itself.
But instead of this vainly sought deduction of the moral principle, something else is found which was quite unexpected, namely, that this moral principle serves conversely as the principle of the deduction of an inscrutable faculty which no experience could prove, but of which speculative reason was compelled at least to assume the possibility (in order to find amongst its cosmological ideas the unconditioned in the chain of causality, so as not to contradict itself)—I mean the faculty of freedom. The moral law, which itself does not require a justification, proves not merely the possibility of freedom, but that it really belongs to beings who recognise this law as binding on themselves. The moral law is in fact a law of the causality of free agents, and therefore of the possibility of a supersensible system of nature, just as the metaphysical law of events in the world of sense was a law of causality of the sensible system of nature; and it therefore determines what speculative philosophy was compelled to leave undetermined, namely, the law for a causality, the concept of which in the latter was only negative; and therefore for the first time gives this concept objective reality.
(164) This sort of credential of the moral law, viz. that it is set forth as a principle of the deduction of freedom, which is a causality of pure reason, is a sufficient substitute for all à priori justification, since theoretic reason was compelled to assume at least the possibility of freedom, in order to satisfy a want of its own. For the moral law proves its reality, so as even to satisfy the critique of the speculative reason, by the fact that it adds a positive definition to a causality previously conceived only negatively, the possibility of which was incomprehensible to speculative reason, which yet was compelled to suppose it. For it adds the notion of a reason that directly determines the will (by imposing on its maxims the condition of a universal legislative form); and thus it is able for the first time to give objective, though only practical, reality to reason, which always became transcendent when it sought to proceed speculatively with its ideas. It thus changes the transcendent use of reason into an immanent1 use (so that reason is itself, by means of ideas, an efficient cause in the field of experience).
The determination of the causality of beings in the world of sense, as such, can never be unconditioned; and yet for every series of conditions there must be something unconditioned, and therefore there must be a causality which is determined wholly by itself. Hence, the idea of freedom as a faculty of absolute spontaneity was not found to be a want, but as far as its possibility is concerned, an analytic principle of pure speculative reason. But as it is absolutely impossible to find in experience any example in accordance with this idea, because amongst the causes of things as phenomena, it would be impossible to meet with any absolutely unconditioned determination of causality, we were only able to defend our supposition that a freely acting cause might be a being in the world of sense, in so far as it is considered in the other point of view as a noumenon (165), showing that there is no contradiction in regarding all its actions as subject to physical conditions so far as they are phenomena, and yet regarding its causality as physically unconditioned, in so far as the acting being belongs to the world of understanding, 2 and in thus making the concept of freedom the regulative principle of reason. By this principle I do not indeed learn what the object is to which that sort of causality is attributed; but I remove the difficulty; for, on the one side, in the explanation of events in the world, and consequently also of the actions of rational beings, I leave to the mechanism of physical necessity the right of ascending from conditioned to condition ad infinitum, while on the other side I keep open for speculative reason the place which for it is vacant, namely, the intelligible, in order to transfer the unconditioned thither. But I was not able to verify this supposition; that is, to change it into the knowledge of a being so acting, not even into the knowledge of the possibility of such a being. This vacant place is now filled by pure practical reason with a definite law of causality in an intelligible world (causality with freedom), namely, the moral law. Speculative reason does not hereby gain anything as regards its insight, but only as regards the certainty of its problematical notion of freedom, which here obtains objective reality, which, though only practical, is nevertheless undoubted. Even the notion of causality—the application, and consequently the signification of which holds properly only in relation to phenomena, so as to connect them into experiences (as is shown by the critique of pure reason)—is not so enlarged as to extend its use beyond these limits. For if reason sought to do this it would have to show how the logical relation of principle and consequence can be used synthetically in a different sort of intuition from the sensible; that is how a causa noumenon is possible (166). This it can never do; and, as practical reason, it does not even concern itself with it, since it only places the determining principle of causality of man as a sensible creature (which is given) in pure reason (which is therefore called practical); and therefore it employs the notion of cause, not in order to know objects, but to determine causality in relation to objects in general. It can abstract altogether from the application of this notion to objects with a view to theoretical knowledge (since this concept is always found à priori in the understanding, even independently on any intuition). Reason then employs it only for a practical purpose, and hence we can transfer the determining principle of the will into the intelligible order of things, admitting, at the same time, that we cannot understand how the notion of cause can determine the knowledge of these things. But reason must cognise causality with respect to the actions of the will in the sensible world in a definite manner; otherwise, practical reason could not really produce any action. But as to the notion which it forms of its own causality as noumenon, it need not determine it theoretically with a view to the cognition of its supersensible existence, so as to give it significance in this way. For it acquires significance apart from this, though only for practical use, namely, through the moral law. Theoretically viewed, it remains always a pure à priori concept of the understanding, which can be applied to objects whether they have been given sensibly or not, although in the latter case it has no definite theoretical significance or application, but is only a formal, though essential, conception of the understanding relating to an object in general. The significance which reason gives it through the moral law is merely practical, inasmuch as the idea of the law of causality (of the will) has self causality, or is its determining principle.
—Of the right that Pure Reason in its practical use has to an extension which is not possible to it in its speculative use.
We have in the moral principle set forth a law of causality, the determining principle of which is set above all the conditions of the sensible world; we have it conceived how the will, as belonging to the intelligible world, is determinable, and therefore we have its subject (man) not merely conceived as belonging to a world of pure understanding, and in this respect unknown (which the critique of speculative reason enabled us to do), but also defined as regards his causality by means of a law which cannot be reduced to any physical law of the sensible world; and therefore our knowledge is extended beyond the limits of that world, a pretension which the critique of the pure reason declared to be futile in all speculation. Now, how is the practical use of pure reason here to be reconciled with the theoretical, as to the determination of the limits of its faculty?
David Hume, of whom we may say that he commenced the assault on the claims of pure reason, which made a thorough investigation of it necessary, argued thus: the notion of cause is a notion that involves the necessity of the connexion of the existence of different things, and that, in so far as they are different, so that, given A, I know that something quite distinct therefrom, namely B, must necessarily also exist (168). Now necessity can be attributed to a connexion, only in so far as it is known à priori, for experience would only enable us to know of such a connexion that it exists, not that it necessarily exists. Now, it is impossible, says he, to know à priori and as necessary the connexion between one thing and another (or between one attribute and another quite distinct) when they have not been given in experience. Therefore the notion of a cause is fictitious and delusive, and, to speak in the mildest way, is an illusion, only excusable inasmuch as the custom (a subjective necessity) of perceiving certain things, or their attributes as often associated in existence along with or in succession to one another, is insensibly taken for an objective necessity of supposing such a connexion in the objects themselves, and thus the notion of a cause has been acquired surreptitiously and not legitimately; nay, it can never be so acquired or authenticated, since it demands a connexion in itself vain, chimerical, and untenable in presence of reason, and to which no object can ever correspond. In this way was empiricism first introduced as the sole source of principles, as far as all knowledge of the existence of things is concerned (mathematics therefore remaining excepted); and with empiricism the most thorough scepticism, even with regard to the whole science of nature (as philosophy). For on such principles we can never conclude from giving attributes of things as existing to a consequence (for this would require the notion of cause, which involves the necessity of such a connexion); we can only, guided by imagination, except similar cases—an expectation which is never certain, however often it has been fulfilled. Of no event could we say: a certain thing must have preceded it (169), on which it necessarily followed; that is, it must have a cause; and therefore, however frequent the cases we have known in which there was such an antecedent, so that a rule could be derived from them, yet we never could suppose it as always and necessarily so happening; we should, therefore, be obliged to leave its share to blind chance, with which all use of reason comes to an end; and this firmly establishes scepticism in reference to arguments ascending from effects to causes, and makes it impregnable.
Mathematics escaped well, so far, because Hume thought that its propositions were analytical; that is, proceeded from one property to another, by virtue of identity, and consequently according to the principle of contradiction. This, however, is not the case, since, on the contrary, they are synthetical; and although geometry, for example, has not to do with the existence of things, but only with their à priori properties in a possible intuition, yet it proceeds just as in the case of the causal notion, from one property (A) to another wholly distinct (B), as necessarily connected with the former. Nevertheless, mathematical science, so highly vaunted for its apodictic certainty, must at last fall under this empiricism for the same reason for which Hume put custom in the place of objective necessity in the notion of cause, and in spite of all its pride must consent to lower its bold pretention of claiming assent à priori, and depend for assent to the universality of its propositions on the kindness of observers, who, when called as witnesses, would surely not hesitate to admit that what the geometer propounds as a theorem they have always perceived to be the fact, and, consequently, although it be not necessarily true, yet they would permit us to expect it to be true in the future. In this manner Hume’s empiricism leads inevitably to scepticism, even with regard (170) to mathematics, and consequently in every scientific theoretical use of reason (for this belongs either to philosophy or mathematics). Whether with such a terrible overthrow of the chief branches of knowledge common reason will escape better, and will not rather become irrecoverably involved in this destruction of all knowledge, so that from the same principles a universal scepticism should follow (affecting, indeed, only the learned), this I will leave everyone to judge for himself.
As regards my own labours in the critical examination of pure reason, which were occasioned by Hume’s sceptical teaching, but went much farther, and embraced the whole field of pure theoretical reason in its synthetic use, and, consequently, the field of what is called metaphysics in general; I proceeded in the following manner with respect to the doubts raised by the Scottish philosopher touching the notion of causality. If Hume took the objects of experience for things in themselves (as is almost always done), he was quite right in declaring the notion of cause to be a deception and false illusion; for as to things in themselves, and their attributes as such, it is impossible to see why because A is given, B, which is different, must necessarily be also given, and therefore he could by no means admit such an à priori knowledge of things in themselves. Still less could this acute writer allow an empirical origin of this concept, since this is directly contradictory to the necessity of connexion which constitutes the essence of the notion of causality; hence the notion was proscribed, and in its place was put custom in the observation of the course of perceptions.
It resulted, however, from my inquiries, that the objects with which we have to do in experience (171) are by no means things in themselves, but merely phenomena; and that although in the case of things in themselves it is impossible to see how, if A is supposed, it should be contradictory that B, which is quite different from A, should not also be supposed (i. e. to see the necessity of the connexion between A as cause and B as effect); yet it can very well be conceived that, as phenomena, they may be necessarily connected in one experience in a certain way (e. g. with regard to time-relations); so that they could not be separated without contradicting that connexion, by means of which this experience is possible in which they are objects, and in which alone they are cognisable by us. And so it was found to be in fact; so that I was able not only to prove the objective reality of the concept of cause in regard to objects of experience, but also to deduce it as an à priori concept by reason of the necessity of the connexion it implied; that is, to show the possibility of its origin from pure understanding without any empirical sources; and thus, after removing the source of empiricism, I was able also to overthrow the inevitable consequence of this, namely, scepticism, first with regard to physical science, and then with regard to mathematics (in which empiricism has just the same grounds), both being sciences which have reference to objects of possible experience; herewith overthrowing the thorough doubt of whatever theoretic reason professes to discern.
But how is it with the application of this category of causality (and all the others; for without them there can be no knowledge of anything existing) to things which are not objects of possible experience, but lie beyond its bounds? For I was able to deduce the objective reality of these concepts only with regard to objects of possible experience (172). But even this very fact, that I have saved them, only in case I have proved that objects may by means of them be thought, though not determined à priori; this it is that gives them a place in the pure understanding, by which they are referred to objects in general (sensible or not sensible). If anything is still wanting, it is that which is the condition of the application of these categories, and especially that of causality, to objects, namely, intuition; for where this is not given, the application with a view to theoretic knowledge of the object, as a noumenon, is impossible; and therefore if anyone ventures on it, is (as in the critique of the pure reason) absolutely forbidden. Still, the objective reality of the concept (of causality) remains, and it can be used even of noumena, but without our being able in the least to define the concept theoretically so as to produce knowledge. For that this concept, even in reference to an object, contains nothing impossible, was shown by this, that even while applied to objects of sense, its seat was certainly fixed in the pure understanding; and although, when referred to things in themselves (which cannot be objects of experience), it is not capable of being determined so as to represent a definite object for the purpose of theoretic knowledge; yet for any other purpose (for instance a practical) it might be capable of being determined so as to have such application. This could not be the case if, as Hume maintained, this concept of causality contained something absolutely impossible to be thought.
In order now to discover this condition of the application of the said concept to noumena, we need only recall why we are not content with its application to objects of experience, but desire also to apply it to things in themselves. It will appear, then, that it is not a theoretic but a practical purpose (173) that makes this a necessity. In speculation, even if we were successful in it, we should not really gain anything in the knowledge of nature, or generally with regard to such objects as are given, but we should make a wide step from the sensibly conditioned (in which we have already enough to do to maintain ourselves, and to follow carefully the chain of causes) to the supersensible, in order to complete our knowledge of principles and to fix its limits: whereas there always remains an infinite chasm unfilled between those limits and what we know: and we should have hearkened to a vain curiosity rather than a solid desire of knowledge.
But, besides the relation in which the understanding stands to objects (in theoretical knowledge), it has also a relation to the faculty of desire, which is therefore called the will, and the pure will, inasmuch as pure understanding (in this case called reason) is practical through the mere conception of a law. The objective reality of a pure will, or, what is the same thing, of a pure practical reason, is given in the moral law à priori, as it were, by a fact, for so we may name a determination of the will which is inevitable, although it does not rest on empirical principles. Now, in the notion of a will the notion of causality is already contained, and hence the notion of a pure will contains that of a causality accompanied with freedom, that is, one which is not determinable by physical laws, and consequently is not capable of any empirical intuition in proof of its reality, but, nevertheless, completely justifies its objective reality à priori in the pure practical law; not, indeed (as is easily seen) for the purposes of the theoretical, but of the practical use of reason. Now the notion of a being that has free will is the notion of a causa noumenon, and that this notion involves no contradiction (174) we are already assured by the fact—that inasmuch as the concept of cause has arisen wholly from pure understanding, and has its objective reality assured by the Deduction, as it is moreover in its origin independent on any sensible conditions, it is, therefore, not restricted to phenomena (unless we wanted to make a definite theoretic use of it), but can be applied equally to things that are objects of the pure understanding. But, since this application cannot rest on any intuition (for intuition can only be sensible), therefore, causa noumenon, as regards the theoretic use of reason, although a possible and thinkable, is yet an empty notion. Now, I do not desire by means of this to understand theoretically the nature of a being, in so far as it has a pure will; it is enough for me to have thereby designated it as such, and hence to combine the notion of causality with that of freedom (and what is inseparable from it, the moral law, as its determining principle). Now this right I certainly have by virtue of the pure, not-empirical, origin of the notion of cause, since I do not consider myself entitled to make any use of it except in reference to the moral law which determines its reality, that is, only a practical use.
If, with Hume, I had denied to the notion of causality all objective reality in its [theoretic 1 ] use, not merely with regard to things in themselves the (supersensible), but also with regard to the objects of the senses, it would have lost all significance, and being a theoretically impossible notion would have been declared to be quite useless; and since what is nothing cannot be made any use of, the practical use of a concept theoretically null would have been absurd. But, as it is, the concept of a causality free from empirical conditions, although empty (i. e. without any appropriate intuition), is yet theoretically possible (175), and refers to an indeterminate object, but in compensation significance is given to it in the moral law, and consequently in a practical sense. I have, indeed, no intuition which should determine its objective theoretic reality, but not the less it has a real application, which is exhibited in concreto in intentions or maxims; that is, it has a practical reality which can be specified, and this is sufficient to justify it even with a view to noumena.
Now, this objective reality of a pure concept of the understanding in the sphere of the supersensible, once brought in, gives an objective reality also to all the other categories, although only so far as they stand in necessary connexion with the determining principle of the will (the moral law); a reality only of practical application, which has not the least effect in enlarging our theoretical knowledge of these objects, or the discernment of their nature by pure reason. So we shall find also in the sequel that these categories refer only to beings as intelligences, and in them only to the relation of reason to the will; consequently, always only to the practical, and beyond this cannot pretend to any knowledge of these beings; and whatever other properties belonging to the theoretical representation of supersensible things may be brought into connexion with these categories, this is not to be reckoned as knowledge, but only as a right (in a practical point of view, however, it is a necessity) to admit and assume such beings, even in the case where we [conceive 1 ] supersensible beings (e. g. God) according to analogy, that is, a purely rational relation, of which we make a practical use with reference to what is sensible; and thus the application to the supersensible solely in a practical point of view does not give pure theoretic reason the least encouragement to run riot into the transcendent.
of the concept of an object of pure practical reason.
By a concept of the practical reason I understand the idea of an object as an effect possible to be produced through freedom. To be an object of practical knowledge, as such, signifies, therefore, only the relation of the will to the action by which the object or its opposite would be realized; and to decide whether something is an object of pure practical reason or not, is only to discern the possibility or impossibility of willing the action by which, if we had the required power (about which experience must decide), a certain object would be realized. If the object be taken as the determining principle of our desire, it must first be known whether it is physically possible by the free use of our powers, before we decide whether it is an object of practical reason or not. On the other hand, if the law can be considered à priori as the determining principle of the action, and the latter therefore as determined by pure practical reason; the judgment, whether a thing (177) is an object of pure practical reason or not does not depend at all on the comparison with our physical power; and the question is only whether we should will an action that is directed to the existence of an object, if the object were in our power; hence the previous question is only as to the moral possibility of the action, for in this case it is not the object, but the law of the will, that is the determining principle of the action. The only objects of practical reason are therefore those of good and evil. For by the former is meant an object necessarily desired according to a principle of reason; by the latter one necessarily shunned, also according to a principle of reason.
If the notion of good is not to be derived from an antecedent practical law, but, on the contrary, is to serve as its foundation, it can only be the notion of something whose existence promises pleasure, and thus determines the causality of the subject to produce it, that is to say, determines the faculty of desire. Now, since it is impossible to discern à priori what idea will be accompanied with pleasure, and what with pain, it will depend on experience alone to find out what is primarily 1 good or evil. The property of the subject, with reference to which alone this experiment can be made, is the feeling of pleasure and pain, a receptivity belonging to the internal sense; thus that only would be primarily good with which the sensation of pleasure is immediately connected, and that simply evil which immediately excites pain. Since, however, this is opposed even to the usage of language, which distinguishes the pleasant from the good, the unpleasant from the evil, and requires that good and evil shall always be judged by reason, and, therefore, by concepts which can be communicated to everyone, and not by mere sensation, which is limited to individual subjects 2 and their susceptibility (178); and, since nevertheless, pleasure or pain cannot be connected with any idea of an object à priori, the philosopher who thought himself obliged to make a feeling of pleasure the foundation of his practical judgments would call that good which is a means to the pleasant, and evil what is a cause of unpleasantness and pain; for the judgment on the relation of means to ends certainly belongs to reason. But, although reason is alone capable of discerning the connexion of means with their ends (so that the will might even be defined as the faculty of ends, since these are always determining principles of the desires), yet the practical maxims which would follow from the aforesaid principle of the good being merely a means, would never contain as the object of the will anything good in itself, but only something good for something; the good would always be merely the useful, and that for which it is useful must always lie outside the will, in sensation. Now if this as a pleasant sensation were to be distinguished from the notion of good, then there would be nothing primarily good at all, but the good would have to be sought only in the means to something else, namely, some pleasantness.
It is an old formula of the schools: Nihil appetimus nisi sub ratione boni; Nihil aversamur nisi sub ratione mali, and it is used often correctly, but often also in a manner injurious to philosophy, because the expressions boni and mali are ambiguous, owing to the poverty of language, in consequence of which they admit a double sense, and, therefore, inevitably bring the practical laws into ambiguity; and philosophy, which in employing them becomes aware of the different meanings in the same word, but can find no special expressions for them, is driven to subtile distinctions about which there is subsequently no unanimity, because the distinction (179) could not be directly marked by any suitable expression. 1
The German language has the good fortune to possess expressions which do not allow this difference to be overlooked. It possesses two very distinct concepts, and especially distinct expressions, for that which the Latins express by a single word, bonum. For bonum it has “das Gute” [good], and “das Wohl” [well, weal], for malum “das Böse” [evil], and “das Übel” [ill, bad], or “das Weh” [woe]. So that we express two quite distinct judgments when we consider in an action the good and evil of it, or our weal and woe (ill). Hence it already follows that the above quoted psychological proposition is at least very doubtful if it is translated; “we desire nothing except with a view to our weal or woe”; on the other hand, if we render it thus: “under the direction of reason we desire nothing except so far as we esteem it good or evil,” it is indubitably certain, and at the same time quite clearly expressed. 1
Well or ill always implies only a reference to our condition, as pleasant or unpleasant, as one of pleasure or pain, and if we desire or avoid an object on this account, it is only so far as it is referred to our sensibility and to the feeling of pleasure or pain that it produces. But good or evil always implies a reference to the will, as determined by the law of reason, to make something its object (180); for it is never determined directly by the object and the idea of it, but is a faculty of taking a rule of reason for the motive of an action (by which an object may be realized). Good and evil therefore are properly referred to actions, not to the sensations of the person, and if anything is to be good or evil absolutely (i. e. in every respect and without any further condition), or is to be so esteemed, it can only be the manner of acting, the maxim of the will, and consequently the acting person himself as a good or evil man that can be so called, and not a thing.
However, then, men may laugh at the Stoic, who in the severest paroxysms of gout cried out: Pain, however thou tormentest me, I will never admit that thou art an evil (κακόν, malum): he was right. A bad thing it certainly was, and his cry betrayed that; but that any evil attached to him thereby, this he had no reason whatever to admit, for pain did not in the least diminish the worth of his person, but only that of his condition. If he had been conscious of a single lie it would have lowered his pride, but pain served only to raise it, when he was conscious that he had not deserved it by any unrighteous action by which he had rendered himself worthy of punishment.
What we call good must be an object of desire in the judgment of every rational man, and evil an object of aversion in the eyes of everyone; therefore, in addition to sense, this judgment requires reason. So it is with truthfulness, as opposed to lying; so with justice, as opposed to violence, &c. But we may call a thing a bad [or ill] thing, which yet everyone must at the same time acknowledge to be good, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly (181). The man who submits to a surgical operation feels it no doubt as a bad [ill] thing, but by their reason he and everyone acknowledge it to be good. If a man who delights in annoying and vexing peaceable people at last receives a right good beating, this is no doubt a bad [ill] thing, but everyone approves it and regards it as a good thing, even though nothing else resulted from it; nay, even the man who receives it must in his reason acknowledge that he has met justice, because he sees the proportion between good conduct and good fortune, which reason inevitably places before him, here put into practice.
No doubt our weal and woe are of very great importance in the estimation of our practical reason, and as far as our nature as sensible beings is concerned, our happiness is the only thing of consequence, provided it is estimated as reason especially requires, not by the transitory sensation, but by the influence that this has on our whole existence, and on our satisfaction therewith; but it is not absolutely the only thing of consequence. Man is a being who, as belonging to the world of sense, has wants, and so far his reason has an office which it cannot refuse, namely, to attend to the interest of his sensible nature, and to form practical maxims, even with a view to the happiness of this life, and if possible even to that of a future. But he is not so completely an animal as to be indifferent to what reason says on its own account, and to use it merely as an instrument for the satisfaction of his wants as a sensible being. For the possession of reason would not raise his worth above that of the brutes, if it is observe serve him only for the same purpose that instinct serves in them; it would in that case be only a particular method which nature had employed to equip man for the same ends (182) for which it has qualified brutes, without qualifying him for any higher purpose. No doubt once this arrangement of nature has been made for him he requires reason in order to take into consideration his weal and woe, but besides this he possesses it for a higher purpose also, namely, not only to take into consideration what is good or evil in itself, about which only pure reason, uninfluenced by any sensible interest, can judge, but also to distinguish this estimate thoroughly from the former, and to make it the supreme condition thereof.
In estimating what is good or evil in itself, as distinguished from what can be so called only relatively, the following points are to be considered. Either a rational principle is already conceived, as of itself the determining principle of the will, without regard to possible objects of desire (and therefore by the mere legislative form of the maxim), and in that case that principle is a practical à priori law, and pure reason is supposed to be practical of itself. The law in that case determines the will directly; the action conformed to it is good in itself; a will whose maxim always conforms to this law is good absolutely in every respect, and is the supreme condition of all good. Or the maxim of the will is consequent on a determining principle of desire which presupposes an object of pleasure or pain, something therefore that pleases or displeases, and the maxim of reason that we should pursue the former and avoid the latter determines our actions as good relatively to our inclination, that is, good indirectly (i. e. relatively to a different end to which they are means), and in that case these maxims can never be called laws, but may be called rational practical precepts. The end itself, the pleasure that we seek, is in the latter case not a good but a welfare; not a concept of reason (183), but an empirical concept of an object of sensation; but the use of the means thereto, that is, the action, is nevertheless called good (because rational deliberation is required for it), not however good absolutely, but only relatively to our sensuous nature, with regard to its feelings of pleasure and displeasure; but the will whose maxim is affected thereby is not a pure will; this is directed only to that in which pure reason by itself can be practical.
This is the proper place to explain the paradox of method in a critique of Practical Reason, namely, that the concept of good and evil must not be determined before the moral law (of which it seems as if it must be the foundation), but only after it and by means of it. In fact even if we did not know that the principle of morality is a pure à priori law determining the will, yet, that we may not assume principles quite gratuitously, we must, at least at first, leave it undecided, whether the will has merely empirical principles of determination, or whether it has not also pure à priori principles; for it is contrary to all rules of philosophical method to assume as decided that which is the very point in question. Supposing that we wished to begin with the concept of good, in order to deduce from it the laws of the will, then this concept of an object (as a good) would at the same time assign to us this object as the sole determining principle of the will. Now, since this concept had not any practical à priori law for its standard, the criterion of good or evil could not be placed in anything but the agreement of the object with our feeling of pleasure or pain; and the use of reason could only consist in determining in the first place this pleasure or pain in connexion with all the sensations of my existence, and in the second place the means of securing to myself the object of the pleasure (184). Now, as experience alone can decide what conforms to the feeling of pleasure, and by hypothesis the practical law is to be based on this as a condition, it follows that the possibility of à priori practical laws would be at once excluded, because it was imagined to be necessary first of all to find an object the concept of which, as a good, should constitute the universal though empirical principle of determination of the will. But what it was necessary to inquire first of all was whether there is not an à priori determining principle of the will (and this could never be found anywhere but in a pure practical law, in so far as this law prescribes to maxims merely their form without regard to an object). Since, however, we laid the foundation of all practical law in an object determined by our conceptions of good and evil, whereas without a previous law that object could only be conceived by empirical concepts, we have deprived ourselves beforehand of the possibility of even conceiving a pure practical law. On the other hand, if we had first investigated the latter analytically, we should have found that it is not the concept of good as an object that determines the moral law, and makes it possible, but that, on the contrary, it is the moral law that first determines the concept of good, and makes it possible, so far as it deserves the name of good absolutely.
This remark, which only concerns the method of ultimate Ethical inquiries, is of importance. It explains at once the occasion of all the mistakes of philosophers with respect to the supreme principle of morals. For they sought for an object of the will which they could make the matter and principle of a law (which consequently could not determine the will directly but by means of that object referred to the feeling of pleasure or pain (185); whereas they ought first to have searched for a law that would determine the will à priori and directly, and afterwards determine the object in accordance with the will). Now, whether they placed this object of pleasure, which was to supply the supreme conception of goodness, in happiness, in perfection, in moral [feeling 1 ], or in the will of God, their principle in every case implied heteronomy, and they must inevitably come upon empirical conditions of a moral law, since their object, which was to be the immediate principle of the will, could not be called good or bad except in its immediate relation to feeling, which is always empirical. It is only a formal law—that is, one which prescribes to reason nothing more than the form of its universal legislation as the supreme condition of its maxims—that can be à priori a determining principle of practical reason. The ancients avowed this error without concealment by directing all their moral inquiries to the determination of the notion of the summum bonum, which they intended afterwards to make the determining principle of the will in the moral law; whereas it is only far later, when the moral law has been first established for itself, and shown to be the direct determining principle of the will, that this object can be presented to the will, whose form is now determined à priori; and this we shall undertake in the Dialectic of the pure practical reason. The moderns, with whom the question of the summum bonum has gone out of fashion, or at least seems to have become a secondary matter, hide the same error under vague expressions (as in many other cases). It shows itself, nevertheless, in their systems, as it always produces heteronomy of practical reason; and from this can never be derived a moral law giving universal commands.
(186) Now, since the notions of good and evil, as consequences of the à priori determination of the will, imply also a pure practical principle, and therefore a causality of pure reason; hence they do not originally refer to objects (so as to be, for instance, special modes of the synthetic unity of the manifold of given intuitions in one consciousness 1 ) like the pure concepts of the understanding or categories of reason in its theoretic employment; on the contrary, they presuppose that objects are given; but they are all modes (modi) of a single category, namely, that of causality, the determining principle of which consists in the rational conception of a law, which as a law of freedom reason gives to itself, thereby à priori proving itself practical. However, as the actions on the one side come under a law which is not a physical law, but a law of freedom, and consequently belong to the conduct of beings in the world of intelligence, yet on the other side as events in the world of sense they belong to phenomena; hence the determinations of a practical reason are only possible in reference to the latter, and therefore in accordance with the categories of the understanding; not indeed with a view to any theoretic employment of it, i.e. so as to bring the manifold of (sensible) intuition under one consciousness à priori; but only to subject the manifold of desires to the unity of consciousness of a practical reason, giving it commands in the moral law, i. e. to a pure will à priori.
These categories of freedom—for so we choose to call them in contrast to those theoretic categories which are categories of physical nature—have an obvious advantage over the latter, inasmuch as the latter are only forms of thought which designate objects in an indefinite manner by means of universal concepts for every possible intuition; the former, on the contrary, refer to the determination of a free elective will (to which indeed no exactly corresponding intuition can be assigned (187), but which has as its foundation a pure practical à priori law, which is not the case with any concepts belonging to the theoretic use of our cognitive faculties); hence, instead of the form of intuition (space and time), which does not lie in reason itself, but has to be drawn from another source, namely, the sensibility, these being elementary practical concepts have as their foundation the form of a pure will, which is given in reason, and therefore in the thinking faculty itself. From this it happens that as all precepts of pure practical reason have to do only with the determination of the will, not with the physical conditions (of practical ability) of the execution of one’s purpose, the practical à priori principles in relation to the supreme principle of freedom are at once cognitions, and have not to wait for intuitions in order to acquire significance, and that for this remarkable reason, because they themselves produce the reality of that to which they refer (the intention of the will), which is not the case with theoretical concepts. Only we must be careful to observe that these categories only apply to the practical reason; and thus they proceed in order from those which are as yet subject to sensible conditions and morally indeterminate to those which are free from sensible conditions, and determined merely by the moral law.
(189) It will at once be observed that in this table freedom is considered as a sort of causality not subject to empirical principles of determination, in regard to actions possible by it, which are phenomena in the world of sense, and that consequently it is referred to the categories which concern its physical possibility, whilst yet each category is taken so universally that the determining principle of that causality can be placed outside the world of sense in freedom as a property of a being in the world of intelligence; and finally the categories of modality introduce the transition from practical principles generally to those of morality, but only problematically. These can be established dogmatically only by the moral law.
I add nothing further here in explanation of the present table, since it is intelligible enough of itself. A division of this kind based on principles is very useful in any science, both for the sake of thoroughness and intelligibility. Thus, for instance, we know from the preceding table and its first number what we must begin from in practical inquiries, namely, from the maxims which everyone founds on his own inclinations; the precepts which hold for a species of rational beings so far as they agree in certain inclinations; and finally the law which holds for all without regard to their inclinations, &c. In this way we survey the whole plan of what has to be done, every question of practical philosophy that has to be answered, and also the order that is to be followed.
Of the Typic of the Pure Practical Judgment.
It is the notions of good and evil that first determine an object of the will. They themselves, however (190), are subject to a practical rule of reason, which, if it is pure reason, determines the will à priori relatively to its object. Now, whether an action which is possible to us in the world of sense, comes under the rule or not, is a question to be decided by the practical Judgment, by which what is said in the rule universally (in abstracto) is applied to an action in concreto. But since a practical rule of pure reason in the first place as practical concerns the existence of an object, and in the second place as a practical rule of pure reason, implies necessity as regards the existence of the action, and therefore is a practical law, not a physical law depending on empirical principles of determination, but a law of freedom by which the will is to be determined independently on anything empirical (merely by the conception of a law and its form), whereas all instances that can occur of possible actions can only be empirical, that is, belong to the experience of physical nature; hence, it seems absurd to expect to find in the world of sense a case which, while as such it depends only on the law of nature, yet admits of the application to it of a law of freedom, and to which we can apply the supersensible idea of the morally good which is to be exhibited in it in concreto. Thus, the Judgment of the pure practical reason is subject to the same difficulties as that of the pure theoretical reason. The latter, however, had means at hand of escaping from these difficulties, because, in regard to the theoretical employment, intuitions were required to which pure concepts of the understanding could be applied, and such intuitions (though only of objects of the senses) can be given à priori, and therefore, as far as regards the union of the manifold in them, conforming to the pure à priori concepts of the understanding as schemata. On the other hand, the morally good is something whose object is supersensible; for which, therefore, nothing corresponding can be found in any sensible intuition (191). Judgment depending on laws of pure practical reason seems, therefore, to be subject to special difficulties arising from this, that a law of freedom is to be applied to actions, which are events taking place in the world of sense, and which, so far, belong to physical nature.
But here again is opened a favourable prospect for the pure practical Judgment. When I subsume under a pure practical law an action possible to me in the world of sense, I am not concerned with the possibility of the action as an event in the world of sense. This is a matter that belongs to the decision of reason in its theoretic use according to the law of causality, which is a pure concept of the understanding, for which reason has a schema in the sensible intution. Physical causality, or the condition under which it takes place, belongs to the physical concepts, the schema of which is sketched by transcendental imagination. Here, however, we have to do, not with the schema of a case that occurs according to laws, but with the schema of a law itself (if the word is allowable here), since the fact that the will (not the action relatively to its effect) is determined by the law alone without any other principle, connects the notion of causality with quite different conditions from those which constitute physical connexion.
The physical law being a law to which the objects of sensible intuition, as such, are subject, must have a schema corresponding to it—that is, a general procedure of the imagination (by which it exhibits à priori to the senses the pure concept of the understanding which the law determines). But the law of freedom (that is, of a causality not subject to sensible conditions), and consequently the concept of the unconditionally good, cannot have any intuition, nor consequently any schema supplied to it for the purpose of its application in concreto. Consequently the moral law has no faculty (192) but the understanding to aid its application to physical objects (not the imagination); and the understanding for the purposes of the Judgment can provide for an idea of the reason, not a schema of the sensibility, but a law, though only as to its form as law; such a law, however, as can be exhibited in concreto in objects of the senses, and therefore a law of nature. We can therefore call this law the Type of the moral law.
The rule of the Judgment according to laws of pure practical reason is this: ask yourself whether, if the action you propose were to take place by a law of the system of nature of which you were yourself a part, you could regard it as possible by your own will. Everyone does, in fact, decide by this rule whether actions are morally good or evil. Thus, people say: If everyone permitted himself to deceive, when he thought it to his advantage; or thought himself justified in shortening his life as soon as he was thoroughly weary of it; or looked with perfect indifference on the necessity of others; and if you belonged to such an order of things, would you do so with the assent of your own will? Now everyone knows well that if he secretly allows himself to deceive, it does not follow that everyone else does so; or if, unobserved, he is destitute of compassion, others would not necessarily be so to him; hence, this comparison of the maxim of his actions with a universal law of nature is not the determining principle of his will. Such a law is, nevertheless, a type of the estimation of the maxim on moral principles. If the maxim of the action is not such as to stand the test of the form of a universal law of nature, then it is morally impossible. This is the judgment even of common sense; for its ordinary judgments, even those of experience, are always based on the law of nature. It has it therefore always at hand, only that in cases (193) where causality from freedom is to be criticised, it makes that law of nature only the type of a law of freedom, because without something which it could use as an example in a case of experience, it could not give the law of a pure practical reason its proper use in practice.
It is therefore allowable to use the system of the world of sense as the type of a supersensible system of things, provided I do not transfer to the latter the intuitions, and what depends on them, but merely apply to it the form of law in general (the notion of which occurs even in the [commonest] 1 use of reason, but cannot be definitely known à priori for any other purpose than the pure practical use of reason); for laws, as such, are so far identical, no matter from what they derive their determining principles.
Further, since of all the supersensible absolutely nothing [is known] except freedom (through the moral law), and this only so far as it is inseparably implied in that law, and moreover all supersensible objects to which reason might lead us, following the guidance of that law, have still no reality for us, except for the purpose of that law, and for the use of mere practical reason; and as Reason is authorized and even compelled to use physical nature (in its pure form as an object of the understanding) as the type of the Judgment; hence, the present remark will serve to guard against reckoning amongst concepts themselves that which belongs only to the typic of concepts. This, namely, as a typic of the Judgment, guards against the empiricism of practical reason, which founds the practical notions of good and evil merely on experienced consequences (so called happiness). No doubt happiness and the infinite advantages which would result from a will determined by self-love, if this will at the same time erected itself into a universal law of nature (194), may certainly serve as a perfectly suitable type for the morally Good, but it is not identical with it. The same typic guards also against the mysticism of practical reason, which turns what served only as a symbol into a schema, that is, proposes to provide for the moral concepts actual intuitions, which, however, are not sensible (intuitions of an invisible Kingdom of God), and thus plunges into the transcendent. What is befitting the use of the moral concepts is only the rationalism of the Judgment, which takes from the sensible system of nature only what pure reason can also conceive of itself, that is, conformity to law, and transfers into the supersensible nothing but what can conversely be actually exhibited by actions in the world of sense according to the formal rule of a law of nature. However, the caution against empiricism of practical reason is much more important; for 1mysticism is quite reconcilable with the purity and sublimity of the moral law, and, besides, it is not very natural or agreeable to common habits of thought to strain one’s imagination to supersensible intuitions; and hence the danger on this side is not so general. Empiricism, on the contrary, cuts up at the roots the morality of intentions (in which, and not in actions only, consists the high worth that men can and ought to give to themselves), and substitutes for duty something quite different, namely, an empirical interest, with which the inclinations generally are secretly leagued; and empiricism, moreover, being on this account allied with all the inclinations which (no matter what fashion they put on) degrade humanity when they are raised to the dignity of a supreme practical principle; and as these nevertheless are so favourable to everyone’s feelings, it is for that reason much more dangerous than mysticism, which can never constitute a lasting condition of any great number of persons.
of the motives of pure practical reason.
What is essential in the moral worth of actions is that the moral law should directly determine the will. If the determination of the will takes place in conformity indeed to the moral law, but only by means of a feeling, no matter of what kind, which has to be presupposed in order that the law may be sufficient to determine the will, and therefore not for the sake of the law, then the action will possess legality but not morality. Now, if we understand by motive [or spring] (elater animi) the subjective ground of determination of the will of a being whose Reason does not necessarily conform to the objective law, by virtue of its own nature, then it will follow, first, that no motives can be attributed to the Divine will, and that the motives of the human will (as well as that of every created rational being) can never be anything else than the moral law, and consequently that the objective principle of determination must always and alone be also the subjectively sufficient determining principle of the action (196), if this is not merely to fulfil the letter of the law, without containing its spirit.1
Since, then, for the purpose of giving the moral law influence over the will, we must not seek for any other motives that might enable us to dispense with the motive of the law itself, because that would produce mere hypocrisy, without consistency; and it is even dangerous to allow other motives (for instance, that of interest) even to co-operate along with the moral law; hence nothing is left us but to determine carefully in what way the moral law becomes a motive, and what effect this has upon the faculty of desire. For as to the question how a law can be directly and of itself a determining principle of the will (which is the essence of morality), this is, for human reason, an insoluble problem and identical with the question: how a free will is possible. Therefore what we have to show à priori is, not why the moral law in itself supplies a motive, but what effect it, as such, produces (or, more correctly speaking, must produce) on the mind.
The essential point in every determination of the will by the moral law is that being a free will it is determined simply by the moral law, not only without the co-operation of sensible impulses, but even to the rejection of all such, and to the checking of all inclinations so far as they might be opposed to that law. So far, then, the effect of the moral law as a motive is only negative, and this motive can be known à priori to be such. For all inclination and every sensible impulse is founded on feeling, and the negative effect (197) produced on feeling (by the check on the inclinations) is itself feeling; consequently, we can see à priori that the moral law, as a determining principle of the will, must by thwarting all our inclinations produce a feeling which may be called pain; and in this we have the first, perhaps the only instance, in which we are able from à priori considerations to determine the relation of a cognition (in this case of pure practical reason) to the feeling of pleasure or displeasure. All the inclinations together (which can be reduced to a tolerable system, in which case their satisfaction is called happiness) constitute self-regard (solipsismus). This is either the self-love that consists in an excessive fondness for oneself (philautia), or satisfaction with oneself (arrogantia). The former is called particularly selfishness; the latter self-conceit. Pure practical reason only checks selfishness, looking on it as natural and active in us even prior to the moral law, so far as to limit it to the condition of agreement with this law, and then it is called rational self-love. But self-conceit Reason strikes down altogether, since all claims to self-esteem which precede agreement with the moral law are vain and unjustifiable, for the certainty of a state of mind that coincides with this law is the first condition of personal worth (as we shall presently show more clearly), and prior to this conformity any pretension to worth is false and unlawful. Now the propensity to self-esteem is one of the inclinations which the moral law checks, inasmuch as that esteem rests only on morality. Therefore the moral law breaks down self-conceit. But as this law is something positive in itself, namely, the form of an intellectual causality, that is, of freedom, it must be an object of respect; for by opposing the subjective antagonism of the inclinations (198) it weakens self-conceit; and since it even breaks down, that is, humiliates this conceit, it is an object of the highest respect, and consequently is the foundation of a positive feeling which is not of empirical origin, but is known à priori. Therefore respect for the moral law is a feeling which is produced by an intellectual cause, and this feeling is the only one that we know quite à priori, and the necessity of which we can perceive.
In the preceding chapter we have seen that everything that presents itself as an object of the will prior to the moral law is by that law itself, which is the supreme condition of practical reason, excluded from the determining principles of the will which we have called the unconditionally good; and that the mere practical form which consists in the adaptation of the maxims to universal legislation first determines what is good in itself and absolutely, and is the basis of the maxims of a pure will, which alone is good in every respect. However, we find that our nature as sensible beings is such that the matter of desire (objects of inclination, whether (of hope or fear) first presents itself to us; and our pathologically affected self, although it is in its maxims quite unfit for universal legislation; yet, just as if it constituted our entire self, strives to put its pretensions forward first, and to have them acknowledged as the first and original. This propensity to make ourselves in the subjective determining principles of our choice serve as the objective determining principle of the will generally may be called self-love; and if this pretends to be legislative as an unconditional practical principle it may be called self-conceit. Now the moral law, which alone is truly objective (namely, in every respect), entirely excludes the influence of self-love on the supreme practical principle, and indefinitely checks the self-conceit that prescribes the subjective conditions of the former as laws (199). Now whatever checks our self-conceit in our own judgment humiliates; therefore the moral law inevitably humbles every man when he compares with it the physical propensities of his nature. That, the idea of which as a determining principle of our will humbles us in our self-consciousness, awakes respect for itself, so far as it is itself positive, and a determining principle. Therefore the moral law is even subjectively a cause of respect. Now since everything that enters into self-love belongs to inclination, and all inclination rests on feelings, and consequently whatever checks all the feelings together in self-love has necessarily, by this very circumstance, an influence on feeling; hence we comprehend how it is possible to perceive à priori that the moral law can produce an effect on feeling, in that it excludes the inclinations and the propensity to make them the supreme practical condition, i. e. self-love, from all participation in the supreme legislation. This effect is on one side merely negative, but on the other side, relatively to the restricting principle of pure practical reason, it is positive. No special kind of feeling need be assumed for this under the name of a practical or moral feeling as antecedent to the moral law, and serving as its foundation.
The negative effect on feeling (unpleasantness) is pathological, like every influence on feeling, and like every feeling generally. But as an effect of the consciousness of the moral law, and consequently in relation to a supersensible cause, namely, the subject of pure practical reason which is the supreme lawgiver, this feeling of a rational being affected by inclinations is called humiliation (intellectual self-depreciation); but with reference to the positive source of this humiliation, the law, it is respect for it. There is indeed no feeling for this law (200); but inasmuch as it removes the resistance out of the way, this removal of an obstacle is, in the judgment of reason esteemed equivalent to a positive help to its causality. Therefore this feeling may also be called a feeling of respect for the moral law, and for both reasons together a moral feeling.
While the moral law, therefore, is a formal determining principle of action by practical pure reason, and is moreover a material though only objective determining principle of the objects of action as called good and evil, it is also a subjective determining principle, that is, a motive to this action, inasmuch as it has influence on the morality of the subject, and produces a feeling conducive to the influence of the law on the will. There is here in the subject no antecedent feeling tending to morality. For this is impossible, since every feeling is sensible, and the motive of moral intention must be free from all sensible conditions. On the contrary, while the sensible feeling which is at the bottom of all our inclinations is the condition of that impression which we call respect, the cause that determines it lies in the pure practical reason; and this impression therefore, on account of its origin, must be called, not a pathological, but a practical effect. For by the fact that the conception of the moral law deprives self-love of its influence, and self-conceit of its allusion, it lessons the obstacle to pure practical reason, and produces the conception of the superiority of its objective law to the impulses of the sensibility; and thus, by removing the counterpoise, it gives relatively greater weight to the law in the judgment of reason (in the case of a will affected by the aforesaid impulses). Thus the respect for the law is not a motive to morality, but is morality itself subjectively considered as a motive, inasmuch as pure practical reason (201), by rejecting all the rival pretensions of self-love, gives authority to the law which now alone has influence. Now it is to be observed that as respect is an effect on feeling, and therefore on the sensibility, of a rational being, it presupposes this sensibility, and therefore also the finiteness of such beings on whom the moral law imposes respect; and that respect for the law cannot be attributed to a supreme being, or to any being free from all sensibility, and in whom, therefore, this sensibility cannot be an obstacle to practical reason.
This feeling [sentiment] (which we call the moral feeling) is therefore produced simply by reason. It does not serve for the estimation of actions nor for the foundation of the objective moral law itself, but merely as a motive to make this of itself a maxim. But what name could we more suitably apply to this singular feeling which cannot be compared to any pathological feeling? It is of such a peculiar kind that it seems to be at the disposal of reason only, and that pure practical reason.
Respect applies always to persons only—not to things. The latter may arouse inclination, and if they are animals (e. g. horses, dogs, &c.), even love or fear, like the sea, a volcano, a beast of prey; but never respect. Something that comes nearer to this feeling is admiration, and this, as an affection, astonishment, can apply to things also, e. g. lofty mountains, the magnitude, number, and distance of the heavenly bodies, the strength and swiftness of many animals, &c. But all this is not respect. A man also may be an object to me of love, fear, or admiration, even to astonishment, and yet not be an object of respect. His jocose humour, his courage and strength, his power from the rank he has amongst others (202), may inspire me with sentiments of this kind, but still inner respect for him is wanting. Fontenelle says, “I bow before a great man, but my mind does not bow.” I would add, before an humble, plain man, in whom I perceive uprightness of character in a higher degree than I am conscious of in myself, my mind bows whether I choose it or not, and though I bear my head never so high that he may not forget my superior rank. Why is this? Because his example exhibits to me a law that humbles my self-conceit when I compare it with my conduct: a law, the practicability of obedience to which I see proved by fact before my eyes. Now, I may even be conscious of a like degree of uprightness, and yet the respect remains. For since in man all good is defective, the law made visible by an example still humbles my pride, my standard being furnished by a man whose imperfections, whatever they may be, are not known to me as my own are, and who therefore appears to me in a more favourable light. Respect is a tribute which we cannot refuse to merit, whether we will or not; we may indeed outwardly withhold it, but we cannot help feeling it inwardly.
Respect is so far from being a feeling of pleasure that we only reluctantly give way to it as regards a man. We try to find out something that may lighten the burden of it, some fault to compensate us for the humiliation which such an example causes. Even the dead are not always secure from this criticism, especially if their example appears inimitable. Even the moral law itself in its solemn majesty is exposed to this endeavour to save oneself from yielding it respect (203). Can it be thought that it is for any other reason that we are so ready to reduce it to the level of our familiar inclination, or that it is for any other reason that we all take such trouble to make it out to be the chosen precept of our own interest well understood, but that we want to be free from the deterrent respect which shows us our own unworthiness with such severity? Nevertheless, on the other hand, so little is there pain in it that if once one has laid aside self-conceit and allowed practical influence to that respect, he can never be satisfied with contemplating the majesty of this law, and the soul believes itself elevated in proportion as it sees the holy law elevated above it and its frail nature. No doubt great talents and activity proportioned to them may also occasion respect or an analogous feeling. It is very proper to yield it to them, and then it appears as if this sentiment were the same thing as admiration. But if we look closer we shall observe that it is always uncertain how much of the ability is due to native talent, and how much to diligence in cultivating it. Reason represents it to us as probably the fruit of cultivation, and therefore as meritorious, and this notably reduces our self-conceit, and either casts a reproach on us or urges us to follow such an example in the way that is suitable to us. This respect then which we show to such a person (properly speaking, to the law that his example exhibits) is not mere admiration; and this is confirmed also by the fact, that when the common run of admirers think they have learned from any source the badness of such a man’s character (for instance Voltaire’s) they give up all respect for him; whereas the true scholar still feels it at least with regard to his talents, because he is himself engaged in a business and a vocation (204) which make imitation of such a man in some degree a law.
Respect for the moral law is therefore the only and the undoubted moral motive, and this feeling is directed to no object, except on the ground of this law. The moral law first determines the will objectively and directly in the judgment of reason; and freedom, whose causality can be determined only by the law, consists just in this, that it restricts all inclinations, and consequently self-esteem, by the condition of obedience to its pure law. This restriction now has an effect on feeling, and produces the impression of displeasure which can be known à priori from the moral law. Since it is so far only a negative effect which, arising from the influence of pure practical reason, checks the activity of the subject, so far as it is determined by inclinations, and hence checks the opinion of his personal worth (which, in the absence of agreement with the moral law, is reduced to nothing); hence, the effect of this law on feeling is merely humiliation. We can, therefore, perceive this à priori, but cannot know by it the force of the pure practical law as a motive, but only the resistance to motives of the sensibility. But since the same law is objectively, that is, in the conception of pure reason, an immediate principle of determination of the will, and consequently this humiliation takes place only relatively to the purity of the law; hence, the lowering of the pretensions of moral self-esteem, that is, humiliation on the sensible side, is an elevation of the moral, i. e. practical, esteem for the law itself on the intellectual side; in a word, it is respect for the law, and therefore, as its cause is intellectual, a positive feeling which can be known à priori. For whatever diminishes the obstacles to an activity, furthers this activity itself (205). Now the recognition of the moral law is the consciousness of an activity of practical reason from objective principles, which only fails to reveal its effect in actions because subjective (pathological) causes hinder it. Respect for the moral law then must be regarded as a positive, though indirect effect of it on feeling, inasmuch as this respect 1 weakens the impeding influence of inclinations by humiliating self-esteem; and hence also as a subjective principle of activity, that is, as a motive to obedience to the law, and as a principle of the maxims of a life conformable to it. From the notion of a motive arises that of an interest, which can never be attributed to any being unless it possesses reason, and which signifies a motive of the will in so far as it is conceived by the reason. Since in a morally good will the law itself must be the motive, the moral interest is a pure interest of practical reason alone, independent on sense. On the notion of an interest is based that of a maxim. This, therefore, is morally good only in case it rests simply on the interest taken in obedience to the law. All three notions, however, that of a motive, of an interest, and of a maxim, can be applied only to finite beings. For they all suppose a limitation of the nature of the being, in that the subjective character of his choice does not of itself agree with the objective law of a practical reason; they suppose that the being requires to be impelled to action by something, because an internal obstacle opposes itself. Therefore they cannot be applied to the Divine will.
There is something so singular in the unbounded esteem for the pure moral law, apart from all advantage, as it is presented for our obedience by practical reason, the voice of which makes even the boldest sinner tremble, and compels him to hide himself from it (206), that we cannot wonder if we find this influence of a mere intellectual idea on the feelings quite incomprehensible to speculative reason, and have to be satisfied with seeing so much of this à priori, that such a feeling is inseparably connected with the conception of the moral law in every finite rational being. If this feeling of respect were pathological, and therefore were a feeling of pleasure based on the inner sense, it would be in vain to try to discover a connexion of it with any idea à priori. But [it 1 ] is a feeling that applies merely to what is practical, and depends on the conception of a law, simply as to its form, not on account of any object, and therefore cannot be reckoned either as pleasure or pain, and yet produces an interest in obedience to the law, which we call the moral interest, just as the capacity of taking such an interest in the law (or respect for the moral law itself) is properly the moral feeling [or sentiment].
The consciousness of a free submission of the will to the law, yet combined with an inevitable constraint put upon all inclinations, though only by our own reason, is respect for the law. The law that demands this respect and inspires it is clearly no other than the moral (for no other precludes all inclinations from exercising any direct influence on the will). An action which is objectively practical according to this law, to the exclusion of every determining principle of inclination, is duty, and this by reason of that exclusion includes in its concept practical obligation, that is, a determination to actions, however reluctantly they may be done. The feeling that arises from the consciousness of this obligation is not pathological, as would be a feeling produced by an object of the senses, but practical only, that is, it is made possible by a preceding (207) (objective) determination of the will and a causality of the reason. As submission to the law, therefore, that is, as a command (announcing constraint for the sensibly affected subject), it contains in it no pleasure, but on the contrary, so far, pain in the action. On the other hand, however, as this constraint is exercised merely by the legislation of our own reason, it also contains something elevating, and this subjective effect on feeling, inasmuch as pure practical reason is the sole cause of it, may be called in this respect self-approbation, since we recognize ourselves as determined thereto solely by the law without any interest, and are now conscious of a quite different interest subjectively produced thereby, and which is purely practical and free; and our taking this interest in an action of duty is not suggested by any inclination, but is commanded and actually brought about by reason through the practical law; whence this feeling obtains a special name, that of respect.
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. And on this rests the distinction between the consciousness of having acted according to duty and from duty, that is, from respect for the law. The former (legality) is possible even if inclinations have been the determining principles of the will; but the latter (morality), moral worth, can be placed only in this, that the action is done from duty, that is, simply for the sake of the law. 1
(208) It is of the greatest importance to attend with the utmost exactness in all moral judgments to the subjective principle of all maxims, that all the morality of actions may be placed in the necessity of acting from duty and from respect for the law, not from love and inclination for that which the actions are to produce. For men and all created rational beings moral necessity is constraint, that is obligation, and every action based on it is to be conceived as a duty, not as a proceeding previously pleasing, or likely to be pleasing to us of our own accord. As if indeed we could ever bring it about that without respect for the law, which implies fear, or at least apprehension of transgression, we of ourselves, like the independent Deity, could ever come into possession of holiness of will by the coincidence of our will with the pure moral law becoming as it were part of our nature, never to be shaken (in which case the law would cease to be a command for us, as we could never be tempted to be untrue to it).
The moral law is in fact for the will of a perfect being a law of holiness, but for the will of every finite rational being a law of duty, of moral constraint, and of the determination of its actions by respect for this law and reverence for its duty. No other subjective principle must be assumed as a motive, else while the action might chance to be such as the law prescribes, yet as it does not proceed from duty, the intention, which is the thing properly in question in this legislation, is not moral.
(209) It is a very beautiful thing to do good to men from love to them and from sympathetic good will, or to be just from love of order; but this is not yet the true moral maxim of our conduct which is suitable to our position amongst rational beings as men, when we pretend with fanciful pride to set ourselves above the thought of duty, like volunteers, and, as if we were independent on the command, to want to do of our own good pleasure what we think we need no command to do. We stand under a discipline of reason, and in all our maxims must not forget our subjection to it, nor withdraw anything therefrom, or by an egotistic presumption diminish aught of the authority of the law (although our own reason gives it) so as to set the determining principle of our will, even though the law be conformed to, anywhere else but in the law itself and in respect for this law. Duty and obligation are the only names that we must give to our relation to the moral law. We are indeed legislative members of a moral kingdom rendered possible by freedom, and presented to us by reason as an object of respect; but yet we are subjects in it, not the sovereign, and to mistake our inferior position as creatures and presumptuously to reject the authority of the moral law is already to revolt from it in spirit, even though the letter of it is fulfilled.
With this agrees very well the possibility of such a command as: Love God above everything, and thy neighbour as thyself1 . For as a command it requires respect for a law (210) which commands love and does not leave it to our own arbitrary choice to make this our principle. Love to God, however, considered as an inclination (pathological love), is impossible, for He is not an object of the senses. The same affection towards men is possible no doubt, but cannot be commanded, for it is not in the power of any man to love anyone at command; therefore it is only practical love that is meant in that pith of all laws. To love God means, in this sense, to like to do His commandments; to love one’s neighbour means to like to practise all duties towards him. But the command that makes this a rule cannot command us to have this disposition in actions conformed to duty, but only to endeavour after it. For a command to like to do a thing is in itself contradictory, because if we already know of ourselves what we are bound to do, and if further we are conscious of liking to do it, a command would be quite needless; and if we do it not willingly, but only out of respect for the law, a command that makes this respect the motive of our maxim would directly counteract the disposition commanded. That law of all laws, therefore, like all the moral precepts of the Gospel, exhibits the moral disposition in all its perfection, in which, viewed as an Ideal of holiness, it is not attainable by any creature, but yet is the pattern which we should strive to approach, and in an uninterrupted but infinite progress become like to. In fact, if a rational creature could ever reach this point, that he thoroughly likes to do all moral laws, this would mean that there does not exist in him even the possibility of a desire that would tempt him to deviate from them; for to overcome such a desire always costs the subject some sacrifice, and therefore requires self-compulsion, that is, inward constraint to something that one does not quite like to do; and no creature can ever reach this stage of moral disposition (211). For, being a creature, and therefore always dependent with respect to what he requires for complete satisfaction, he can never be quite free from desires and inclinations, and as these rest on physical causes, they can never of themselves coincide with the moral law, 1 the sources of which are quite different; and therefore they make it necessary to found the mental disposition of one’s maxims on moral obligation, not on ready inclination, but on respect, which demands obedience to the law, even though one may not like it; not on love, which apprehends no inward reluctance of the will towards the law. Nevertheless, this latter, namely, love to the law (which would then cease to be a command, and then morality, which would have passed subjectively into holiness, would cease to be virtue), must be the constant though unattainable goal of his endeavours. For in the case of what we highly esteem, but yet (on account of the consciousness of our weakness) dread, the increased facility of satisfying it changes the most reverential awe into inclination, and respect into love: at least this would be the perfection of a disposition devoted to the law, if it were possible for a creature to attain it. 2
This reflection is intended not so much to clear up the evangelical command just cited, in order to prevent religious fanaticism in regard to love of God, but to define accurately the moral disposition with regard directly to our duties towards men, and to check, or if possible prevent, a merely moral fanaticism which infects many persons. The stage of morality on which man (and, as far as we can see, every rational creature) stands is respect for the moral law. The disposition that he ought to have in obeying this is to obey it from duty, not from spontaneous (212) inclination, or from an endeavour taken up from liking and unbidden; and this proper moral condition in which he can always be is virtue, that is, moral disposition militant, and not holiness in the fancied possession of a perfect purity of the disposition of the will. It is nothing but moral fanaticism and exaggerated self-conceit that is infused into the mind by exhortation to actions as noble, sublime, and magnanimous, by which men are led into the delusion that it is not duty, that is, respect for the law, whose yoke (an easy yoke, indeed, because reason itself imposes it on us) they must bear, whether they like it or not, that constitutes the determining principle of their actions, and which always humbles them while they obey it; fancying that those actions are expected from them, not from duty, but as pure merit. For not only would they, in imitating such deeds from such a principle not have fulfilled the spirit of the law in the least, which consists not in the legality of the action (without regard to principle), but in the subjection of the mind to the law; not only do they make the motives pathological (seated in sympathy or self-love), not moral (in the law), but they produce in this way a vain high-flying fantastic way of thinking, flattering themselves with a spontaneous goodness of heart that needs neither spur nor bridle, for which no command is needed, and thereby forgetting their obligation, which they ought to think of rather than merit. Indeed actions of others which are done with great sacrifice, and merely for the sake of duty, may be praised as noble and sublime, but only so far as there are traces which suggest that they were done wholly out of respect for duty and not from excited feelings (213). If these, however, are set before anyone as examples to be imitated, respect for duty (which is the only true moral feeling) must be employed as the motive—this severe holy precept which never allows our vain self-love to dally with pathological impulses (however analogous they may be to morality) and to take a pride in meritorious worth. Now if we search we shall find for all actions that are worthy of praise a law of duty which commands, and does not leave us to choose what may be agreeable to our inclinations. This is the only way of representing things that can give a moral training to the soul, because it alone is capable of solid and accurately defined principles.
If fanaticism in its most general sense is a deliberate overstepping of the limits of human reason, then moral fanaticism is such an overstepping of the bounds that practical pure reason sets to mankind, in that it forbids us to place the subjective determining principle of correct actions, that is, their moral motive, in anything but the law itself, or to place the disposition which is thereby brought into the maxims in anything but respect for this law, and hence commands us to take as the supreme vital principle of all morality in men the thought of duty, which strikes down all arrogance as well as vain self-love.
If this is so, it is not only writers of romance or sentimental educators (although they may be zealous opponents of sentimentalism), but sometimes even philosophers; nay, even the severest of all, the Stoics, that have brought in moral fanaticism instead of a sober but wise moral discipline, although the fanaticism of the latter was more heroic, that of the former of an insipid, effeminate character; and we may, without hypocrisy, say of the moral teaching of the Gospel (214), that it first, by the purity of its moral principle, and at the same time by its suitability to the limitations of finite beings, brought all the good conduct of men under the discipline of a duty plainly set before their eyes, which does not permit them to indulge in dreams of imaginary moral perfections; and that it also set the bounds of humility (that is, self-knowledge) to self-conceit as well as to self-love, both which are ready to mistake their limits.
Duty! Thou sublime and mighty name that dost embrace nothing charming or insinuating, but requirest submission, and yet seekest not to move the will by threatening aught that would arouse natural aversion or terror, but merely holdest forth a law which of itself finds entrance into the mind, and yet gains reluctant reverence (though not always obedience), a law before which all inclinations are dumb, even though they secretly counter-work it; what origin is there worthy of thee, and where is to be found the root of thy noble descent which proudly rejects all kindred with the inclinations; a root to be derived from which is the indispensable condition of the only worth which men can give themselves?
It can be nothing less than a power which elevates man above himself (as a part of the world of sense), a power which connects him with an order of things that only the understanding can conceive, with a world which at the same time commands the whole sensible world, and with it the empirically determinable existence of man in time, as well as the sum total of all ends (which totality alone suits such unconditional practical laws as the moral). This power is nothing but personality, that is, freedom and independence on the mechanism of nature, yet, regarded also as a faculty of a being which is subject to special laws, namely, pure practical laws given by its own reason (215); so that the person as belonging to the sensible world is subject to his own personality as belonging to the intelligible [supersensible] world. It is then not to be wondered at that man, as belonging to both worlds, must regard his own nature in reference to its second and highest characteristic only with reverence, and its laws with the highest respect.
On this origin are founded many expressions which designate the worth of objects according to moral ideas. The moral law is holy (inviolable). Man is indeed unholy enough, but he must regard humanity in his own person as holy. In all creation every thing one chooses, and over which one has any power, may be used merely as means; man alone, and with him every rational creature, is an end in himself. By virtue of the autonomy of his freedom he is the subject of the moral law, which is holy. Just for this reason every will, even every person’s own individual will, in relation to itself, is restricted to the condition of agreement with the autonomy of the rational being, that is to say, that it is not to be subject to any purpose which cannot accord with a law which might arise from the will of the passive subject himself; the latter is, therefore, never to be employed merely as means, but as itself also, concurrently, an end. We justly attribute this condition even to the Divine will, with regard to the rational beings in the world, which are His creatures, since it rests on their personality, by which alone they are ends in themselves.
This respect-inspiring idea of personality which sets before our eyes the sublimity of our nature (in its higher aspect), while at the same time it shows us the want of accord of our conduct with it, and thereby strikes down self-conceit, is even natural to the commonest reason, and easily observed (216). Has not every even moderately honourable man sometimes found that, where by an otherwise inoffensive lie he might either have withdrawn himself from an unpleasant business, or even have procured some advantages for a loved and well-deserving friend, he has avoided it solely lest he should despise himself secretly in his own eyes? When an upright man is in the greatest distress, which he might have avoided if he could only have disregarded duty, is he not sustained by the consciousness that he has maintained humanity in its proper dignity in his own person and honoured it, that he has no reason to be ashamed of himself in his own sight, or to dread the inward glance of self-examination? This consolation is not happiness, it is not even the smallest part of it, for no one would wish to have occasion for it, or would, perhaps, even desire a life in such circumstances. But he lives, and he cannot endure that he should be in his own eyes unworthy of life. This inward peace is therefore merely negative as regards what can make life pleasant; it is, in fact, only the escaping the danger of sinking in personal worth, after everything else that is valuable has been lost. It is the effect of a respect for something quite different from life, something in comparison and contrast with which life with all its enjoyment has no value. He still lives only because it is his duty, not because he finds anything pleasant in life.
Such is the nature of the true motive of pure practical reason; it is no other than the pure moral law itself, inasmuch as it makes us conscious of the sublimity of our own supersensible existence, and subjectively (217) produces respect for their higher nature in men who are also conscious of their sensible existence and of the consequent dependence of their pathologically very susceptible nature. Now with this motive may be combined so many charms and satisfactions of life, that even on this account alone the most prudent choice of a rational Epicurean reflecting on the greatest advantage of life would declare itself on the side of moral conduct, and it may even be advisable to join this prospect of a cheerful enjoyment of life with that supreme motive which is already sufficient of itself; but only as a counterpoise to the attractions which vice does not fail to exhibit on the opposite side, and not so as, even in the smallest degree, to place in this the proper moving power when duty is in question. For that would be just the same as to wish to taint the purity of the moral disposition in its source. The majesty of duty has nothing to do with enjoyment of life; it has its special law and its special tribunal, and though the two should be never so well shaken together to be given well mixed, like medicine, to the sick soul, yet they will soon separate of themselves, and if they do not the former will not act; and although physical life might gain somewhat in force, the moral life would fade away irrecoverably.
critical examination of the analytic of pure practical reason.
By the critical examination of a science, or of a portion of it, which constitutes a system by itself, I understand the inquiry and proof why it must have this and no other systematic form (218), when we compare it with another system which is based on a similar faculty of knowledge. Now practical and speculative reason are based on the same faculty, so far as both are pure reason. Therefore the difference in their systematic form must be determined by the comparison of both, and the ground of this must be assigned.
The Analytic of pure theoretic reason had to do with the knowledge of such objects as may have been given to the understanding, and was obliged therefore to begin from intuition, and consequently (as this is always sensible) from sensibility; and only after that could advance to concepts (of the objects of this intuition), and could only end with principles after both these had preceded. On the contrary, since practical reason has not to do with objects so as to know them, but with its own faculty of realizing them (in accordance with the knowledge of them), that is, with a will which is a causality, inasmuch as reason contains its determining principle; since consequently it has not to furnish an object of intuition, but as practical reason has to furnish only a law (because the notion of causality always implies the reference to a law which determines the existence of the many in relation to one another); hence a critical examination of the Analytic of reason, if this is to be practical reason (and this is properly the problem), must begin with the possibility of practical principles à priori. Only after that can it proceed to concepts of the objects of a practical reason, namely, those of absolute good and evil, in order to assign them in accordance with those principles (for prior to those principles they cannot possibly be given as good and evil by any faculty of knowledge, and only then could the section be concluded with the last chapter, that, namely, which treats of the relation of the pure practical reason to the sensibility (219) and of its necessary influence thereon, which is à priori cognisable, that is, of the moral sentiment. Thus the Analytic of the practical pure reason has the whole extent of the conditions of its use in common with the theoretical, but in reverse order. The Analytic of pure theoretic reason was divided into transcendental Aesthetic and transcendental Logic, that of the practical reversely into Logic and Aesthetic of pure practical reason (if I may, for the sake of analogy merely, use these designations, which are not quite suitable). This logic again was there divided into the Analytic of concepts and that of principles: here into that of principles and concepts. The Aesthetic also had in the former case two parts, on account of the two kinds of sensible intuition; here the sensibility is not considered as a capacity of intuition at all, but merely as feeling (which can be a subjective ground of desire), and in regard to it pure practical reason admits no further division.
It is also easy to see the reason why this division into two parts with its subdivision was not actually adopted here (as one might have been induced to attempt by the example of the former critique). For since it is pure reason that is here considered in its practical use, and consequently as proceeding from à priori principles, and not from empirical principles of determination, hence the division of the analytic of pure practical reason must resemble that of a syllogism, namely, proceeding from the universal in the major premiss (the moral principle), through a minor premiss containing a subsumption of possible actions (as good or evil) under the former, to the conclusion, namely, the subjective determination of the will (an interest in the possible practical good, and in the maxim founded on it). He who has been able to convince himself of the truth of the positions occurring in the Analytic (220) will take pleasure in such comparisons; for they justly suggest the expectation that we may perhaps some day be able to discern the unity of the whole faculty of reason (theoretical as well as practical), and be able to derive all from one principle, which is what human reason inevitably demands, as it finds complete satisfaction only in a perfectly systematic unity of its knowledge.
If now we consider also the contents of the knowledge that we can have of a pure practical reason, and by means of it, as shown by the Analytic, we find, along with a remarkable analogy between it and the theoretical, no less remarkable differences. As regards the theoretical, the faculty of a pure rational cognition à priori could be easily and evidently proved by examples from sciences (in which, as they put their principles to the test in so many ways by methodical use, there is not so much reason as in common knowledge to fear a secret mixture of empirical principles of cognition). But, that pure reason without the admixture of any empirical principle is practical of itself, this could only be shown from the commonest practical use of reason by verifying the fact, that every man’s natural reason acknowledges the supreme practical principle as the supreme law of his will, a law completely à priori, and not depending on any sensible data. It was necessary first to establish and verify the purity of its origin, even in the judgment of this common reason, before science could take it in hand to make use of it as a fact, that is, prior to all disputation about its possibility, and all the consequences that may be drawn from it. But this circumstance may be readily explained from what has just been said (221); because practical pure reason must necessarily begin with principles, which therefore must be the first data, the foundation of all science, and cannot be derived from it. It was possible to effect this verification of moral principles as principles of a pure reason quite well, and with sufficient certainty, by a single appeal to the judgment of common sense, for this reason, that anything empirical which might slip into our maxims as a determining principle of the will can be detected at once by the feeling of pleasure or pain which necessarily attaches to it as exciting desire; whereas pure practical reason positively refuses to admit this feeling into its principle as a condition. The heterogeneity of the determining principles (the empirical and rational) is clearly detected by this resistance of a practically legislating reason against every admixture of inclination, and by a peculiar kind of sentiment, which, however, does not precede the legislation of the practical reason, but, on the contrary, is produced by this as a constraint, namely, by the feeling of a respect such as no man has for inclinations of whatever kind but for the law only; and it is detected in so marked and prominent a manner that even the most uninstructed cannot fail to see at once in an example presented to him, that empirical principles of volition may indeed urge him to follow their attractions, but that he can never be expected to obey anything but the pure practical law of reason alone.
The distinction between the doctrine of happiness and the doctrine of morality [ethics], in the former of which empirical principles constitute the entire foundation, while in the second they do not form the smallest part of it, is the first and most important office of the analytic of pure practical reason; and it must proceed in it with as much exactness (222) and, so to speak, scrupulousness, as any geometer in his work. The philosopher, however, has greater difficulties to contend with here (as always in rational cognition by means of concepts merely without construction), because he cannot take any intuition as a foundation (for a pure noumenon). He has, however, this advantage that, like the chemist, he can at any time make an experiment with every man’s practical reason for the purpose of distinguishing the moral (pure) principle of determination from the empirical, namely, by adding the moral law (as a determining principle) to the empirically affected will (e.g. that of the man who would be ready to lie because he can gain something thereby). It is as if the analyst added alkali to a solution of lime in hydrochloric acid, the acid at once forsakes the lime, combines with the alkali, and the lime is precipitated. Just in the same way, if to a man who is otherwise honest (or who for this occasion places himself only in thought in the position of an honest man), we present the moral law by which he recognizes the worthlessness of the liar, his practical reason (in forming a judgment of what ought to be done) at once forsakes the advantage, combines with that which maintains in him respect for his own person (truthfulness), and the advantage after it has been separated and washed from every particle of reason (which is altogether on the side of duty) is easily weighed by everyone, so that it can enter into combination with reason in other cases, only not where it could be opposed to the moral law, which reason never forsakes, but most closely unites itself with.
But it does not follow that this distinction between the principle of happiness and that of morality is an opposition between them, and pure practical reason does not require that we should renounce all claim to happiness, but only that the moment duty is in question we should take no account of happiness (223). It may even in certain respects be a duty to provide for happiness; partly, because (including skill, wealth, riches) it contains means for the fulfilment of our duty; partly, because the absence of it (e. g. poverty) implies temptations to transgress our duty. But it can never be an immediate duty to promote our happiness, still less can it be the principle of all duty. Now, as all determining principles of the will, except the law of pure practical reason alone (the moral law), are all empirical, and therefore, as such, belong to the principle of happiness, they must all be kept apart from the supreme principle of morality, and never be incorporated with it as a condition; since this would be to destroy all moral worth just as much as any empirical admixture with geometrical principles would destroy the certainty of mathematical evidence, which in Plato’s opinion is the most excellent thing in mathematics, even surpassing their utility.
Instead, however, of the Deduction of the supreme principle of pure practical reason, that is, the explanation of the possibility of such a knowledge à priori, the utmost we were able to do was to show that if we saw the possibility of the freedom of an efficient cause, we should also see not merely the possibility, but even the necessity of the moral law as the supreme practical law of rational beings, to whom we attribute freedom of causality of their will; because both concepts are so inseparably united, that we might define practical freedom as independence of the will on anything but the moral law. But we cannot perceive the possibility of the freedom of an efficient cause, especially in the world of sense; we are fortunate if only we can be sufficiently assured that there is no proof of its impossibility, and are now by the moral law which postulates it compelled (224), and therefore authorized to assume it. However, there are still many who think that they can explain this freedom on empirical principles, like any other physical faculty, and treat it as a psychological property, the explanation of which only requires a more exact study of the nature of the soul and of the motives of the will, and not as a transcendental predicate of the causality of a being that belongs to the world of sense (which is really the point). They thus deprive us of the grand revelation which we obtain through practical reason by means of the moral law, the revelation, namely, of a supersensible world by the realization of the otherwise transcendent concept of freedom, and by this deprive us also of the moral law itself, which admits no empirical principle of determination. Therefore it will be necessary to add something here as a protection against this delusion, and to exhibit empiricism in its naked superficiality.
The notion of causality as physical necessity, in opposition to the same notion as freedom, concerns only the existence of things so far as it is determinable in time, and, consequently, as phenomena, in opposition to their causality as things in themselves. Now if we take the attributes of existence of things in time for attributes of things in themselves (which is the common view), then it is impossible to reconcile the necessity of the causal relation with freedom; they are contradictory. For from the former it follows that every event, and consequently every action that takes place at a certain point of time, is a necessary result of what existed in time preceding. Now as time past is no longer in my power, hence every action that I perform must be the necessary result of certain determining grounds which are not in my power, that is, at the moment in which I am acting I am never free (225). Nay, even if I assume that my whole existence is independent on any foreign cause (for instance, God), so that the determining principles of my causality, and even of my whole existence, were not outside myself, yet this would not in the least transform that physical necessity into freedom. For at every moment of time I am still under the necessity of being determined to action by that which is not in my power, and the series of events infinite a parte priori which I only continue according to a pre-determined order, and could never begin of myself, would be a continuous physical chain, and therefore my causality would never be freedom.
If then we would attribute freedom to a being whose existence is determined in time, we cannot except him from the law of necessity as to all events in his existence, and consequently as to his actions also; for that would be to hand him over to blind chance. Now as this law inevitably applies to all the causality of things, so far as their existence is determinable in time, it follows that if this were the mode in which we had also to conceive the existence of these things in themselves, freedom must be rejected as a vain and impossible conception. Consequently, if we would still save it, no other way remains but to consider that the existence of a thing, so far as it is determinable in time, and therefore its causality, according to the law of physical necessity, belong to appearance, and to attribute freedom to the same being as a thing in itself. This is certainly inevitable, if we would retain both these contradictory concepts together; but in application when we try to explain their combination in one and the same action, great difficulties present themselves which seem to render such a combination impracticable.
(226) When I say of a man who commits a theft that, by the physical law of causality, this deed is a necessary result of the determining causes in preceding time, then it was impossible that it could not have happened; how then can the judgment, according to the moral law, make any change, and suppose that it could have been omitted, because the law says that it ought to have been omitted: that is, how can a man be called quite free at the same moment, and with respect to the same action in which he is subject to an inevitable physical necessity? Some try to evade this by saying that the causes that determine his causality are of such a kind as to agree with a comparative notion of freedom. According to this, that is sometimes called a free effect, the determining physical cause of which lies within in the acting thing itself, e.g. that which a projectile performs when it is in free motion, in which case we use the word freedom, because while it is in flight it is not urged by anything external; or as we call the motion of a clock a free motion, because it moves its hands itself, which therefore do not require to be pushed by external force; so although the actions of man are necessarily determined by causes which precede in time, we yet call them free, because these causes are ideas produced by our own faculties, whereby desires are evoked on occasion of circumstances, and hence actions are wrought according to our own pleasure. This is a wretched subterfuge with which some persons still let themselves be put off, and so think they have solved, with a petty word jugglery, that difficult problem, at the solution of which centuries have laboured in vain, and which can therefore scarcely be found so completely on the surface. In fact, in the question about the freedom which must be the foundation of all moral laws and the consequent responsibility (227), it does not matter whether the principles which necessarily determine causality by a physical law reside within the subject or without him, or in the former case whether these principles are instinctive or are conceived by reason, if, as is admitted by these men themselves, these determining ideas have the ground of their existence in time and in the antecedent state, and this again in an antecedent, &c. Then it matters not that these are internal; it matters not that they have a psychological and not a mechanical causality, that is, produce actions by means of ideas, and not by bodily movements; they are still determining principles of the causality of a being whose existence is determinable in time, and therefore under the necessitation of conditions of past time, which therefore, when the subject has to act, are no longer in his power. This may imply psychological freedom (if we choose to apply this term to a merely internal chain of ideas in the mind), but it involves physical necessity, and therefore leaves no room for transcendental freedom, which must be conceived as independence on everything empirical, and, consequently, on nature generally, whether it is an object of the internal sense considered in time only, or of the external in time and space. Without this freedom (in the latter and true sense), which alone is practical à priori, no moral law and no moral imputation are possible. Just for this reason the necessity of events in time, according to the physical law of causality, may be called the mechanism of nature, although we do not mean by this that things which are subject to it must be really material machines. We look here only to the necessity of the connexion of events in a timeseries as it is developed according to the physical law, whether the subject in which (228) this development takes place is called automaton materiale when the mechanical being is moved by matter, or with Leibnitz spirituale when it is impelled by ideas; and if the freedom of our will were no other than the latter (say the psychological and comparative, not also transcendental, that is, absolute), then it would at bottom be nothing better than the freedom of a turnspit, which, when once it is wound up, accomplishes its motions of itself.
Now, in order to remove in the supposed case the apparent contradiction between freedom and the mechanism of nature in one and the same action, we must remember what was said in the Critique of Pure Reason, or what follows therefrom, viz. that the necessity of nature, which cannot co-exist with the freedom of the subject, appertains only to the attributes of the thing that is subject to time-conditions, consequently only to those 1 of the acting subject as a phenomenon; that therefore in this respect the determining principles of every action of the same reside in what belongs to past time, and is no longer in his power (in which must be included his own past actions and the character that these may determine for him in his own eyes as a phenomenon). But the very same subject being on the other side conscious of himself as a thing in himself, considers his existence also in so far as it is not subject to time-conditions, and regards himself as only determinable by laws which he gives himself through reason; and in this his existence nothing is antecedent to the determination of his will, but every action, and in general every modification of his existence, varying according to his internal sense, even the whole series of his existence as a sensible being, is in the consciousness of his supersensible existence nothing but the result, and never to be regarded as the determining principle, of his causality as a noumenon. In this view now the rational being can justly say of every unlawful action that he performs (229), that he could very well have left it undone; although as appearance it is sufficiently determined in the past, and in this respect is absolutely necessary; for it, with all the past which determines it, belongs to the one single phenomenon of his character which he makes for himself, in consequence of which he imputes the causality of those appearances to himself as a cause independent on sensibility.
With this agree perfectly the judicial sentences of that wonderful faculty in us which we call conscience. 1 A man may use as much art as he likes in order to paint to himself an unlawful act that he remembers, as an unintentional error, a mere oversight, such as one can never altogether avoid, and therefore as something in which he was carried away by the stream of physical necessity, and thus to make himself out innocent, yet he finds that the advocate who speaks in his favour can by no means silence the accuser within, if only he is conscious that at the time when he did this wrong he was in his senses, that is, in possession of his freedom; and, nevertheless, he accounts for his error from some bad habits, which by gradual neglect of attention he has allowed to grow upon him to such a degree that he can regard his error as its natural consequence, although this cannot protect him from the blame and reproach which he casts upon himself. This is also the ground of repentance for a long past action at every recollection of it; a painful feeling produced by the moral sentiment, and which is practically void in so far as it cannot serve to undo what has been done. (Hence Priestley, as a true and consistent fatalist, declares it absurd, and he deserves to be commended for this candour more than those who, while they maintain the mechanism of the will in fact, and its freedom in words only (230), yet wish it to be thought that they include it in their system of compromise, although they do not explain the possibility of such moral imputation.) But the pain is quite legitimate, because when the law of our intelligible [supersensible] existence (the moral law) is in question, reason recognizes no distinction of time, and only asks whether the event belongs to me, as my act, and then always morally connects the same feeling with it, whether it has happened just now or long ago. For in reference to the supersensible consciousness of its existence (i. e. freedom) the life of sense is but a single phenomenon, which, inasmuch as it contains merely manifestations of the mental disposition with regard to the moral law (i. e. of the character), must be judged not according to the physical necessity that belongs to it as phenomenon, but according to the absolute spontaneity of freedom. It may therefore be admitted that if it were possible to have so profound an insight into a man’s mental character as shown by internal as well as external actions, as to know all its motives, even the smallest, and likewise all the external occasions that can influence them, we could calculate a man’s conduct for the future with as great certainty as a lunar or solar eclipse; and nevertheless we may maintain that the man is free. In fact, if we were capable of a further glance, namely, an intellectual intuition of the same subject (which indeed is not granted to us, and instead of it we have only the rational concept), then we should perceive that this whole chain of appearances in regard to all that concerns the moral laws depends on the spontaneity of the subject as a thing in itself, of the determination of which no physical explanation can be given. In default of this intuition the moral law assures us of this distinction between the relation of our actions (231) as appearances to our sensible nature, and the relation of this sensible nature to the supersensible substratum in us. In this view, which is natural to our reason, though inexplicable, we can also justify some judgments which we passed with all conscientiousness, and which yet at first sight seem quite opposed to all equity. There are cases in which men, even with the same education which has been profitable to others, yet show such early depravity, and so continue to progress in it to years of manhood, that they are thought to be born villains, and their character altogether incapable of improvement; and nevertheless they are judged for what they do or leave undone, they are reproached for their faults as guilty; nay, they themselves (the children) regard these reproaches as well founded, exactly as if in spite of the hopeless natural quality of mind ascribed to them, they remained just as responsible as any other man. This could not happen if we did not suppose that whatever springs from a man’s choice (as every action intentionally performed undoubtedly does) has as its foundation a free causality, which from early youth expresses its character in its manifestations (i. e. actions). These, on account of the uniformity of conduct, exhibit a natural connexion, which however does not make the vicious quality of the will necessary, but, on the contrary, is the consequence of the evil principles voluntarily adopted and unchangeable, which only make it so much the more culpable and deserving of punishment. There still remains a difficulty in the combination of freedom with the mechanism of nature in a being belonging to the world of sense: a difficulty which, even after all the foregoing is admitted, threatens freedom with complete destruction (232). But with this danger there is also a circumstance that offers hope of an issue still favourable to freedom, namely, that the same difficulty presses much more strongly (in fact as we shall presently see, presses only) on the system that holds the existence determinable in time and space to be the existence of things in themselves; it does not therefore oblige us to give up 1 our capital supposition of the ideality of time as a mere form of sensible intuition, and consequently as a mere manner of representation which is proper to the subject as belonging to the world of sense; and therefore it only requires that this view be reconciled with this idea [of freedom].
The difficulty is as follows:—Even if it is admitted that the supersensible subject can be free with respect to a given action, although as a subject also belonging to the world of sense, he is under mechanical conditions with respect to the same action; still, as soon as we allow that God as universal first cause is also the cause of the existence of substance (a proposition which can never be given up without at the same time giving up the notion of God as the Being of all beings, and therewith giving up his all sufficiency, on which everything in theology depends), it seems as if we must admit that a man’s actions have their determining principle in something which is wholly out of hispower, namely, in the causality of a Supreme Being distinct from himself, and on whom his own existence and the whole determination of his causality are absolutely dependent. In point of fact, if a man’s actions as belonging to his modifications in time were not merely modifications of him as appearance, but as a thing in itself, freedom could not be saved. Man would be a marionette or an automaton, like Vaucanson’s, 1 prepared and wound up by the Supreme Artist. Self-consciousness would indeed make him a thinking automaton; but the consciousness of his own spontaneity would be mere delusion if this were mistaken for freedom (233), and it would deserve this name only in a comparative sense, since, although the proximate determining causes of its motion, and a long series of their determining causes are internal, yet the last and highest is found in a foreign hand. Therefore I do not see how those who still insist on regarding time and space as attributes belonging to the existence of things in themselves, can avoid admitting the fatality of actions; or if (like the otherwise acute Mendelssohn) 2 they allow them to be conditions necessarily belonging to the existence of finite and derived beings, but not to that of the infinite Supreme Being, I do not see on what ground they can justify such a distinction, or, indeed, how they can avoid the contradiction that meets them, when they hold that existence in time is an attribute necessarily belonging to finite things in themselves, whereas God is the cause of this existence, but cannot be the cause of time (or space) itself (since this must [on this hypothesis] be presupposed as a necessary à priori condition of the existence of things); and consequently as regards the existence of these things his causality must be subject to conditions, and even to the condition of time; and this would inevitably bring in everything contradictory to the notions of his infinity and independence. On the other hand, it is quite easy for us to draw the distinction between the attribute of the divine existence of being independent on all time-conditions, and that of a being of the world of sense, the distinction being that between the existence of a being in itself and that of a thing in appearance. Hence, if this ideality of time and space is not adopted, nothing remains but Spinozism, in which space and time are essential attributes of the Supreme Being Himself, and the things dependent on Him (ourselves, therefore, included) are not substances, but merely accidents inhering in Him; since, if these things as his effects (234) exist in time only, this being the condition of their existence in themselves, then the actions of these beings must be simply his actions which he performs in some place and time. Thus, Spinozism, in spite of the absurdity of its fundamental idea, argues more consistently than the creation theory can, when beings assumed to be substances, and beings in themselves existing in time, are regarded as effects of a supreme cause, and yet as not [belonging] to Him and his action, but as separate substances.
The above-mentioned difficulty is resolved briefly and clearly as follows:—If existence in time is a mere sensible mode of representation belonging to thinking beings in the world, and consequently does not apply to them as things in themselves, then the creation of these beings is a creation of things in themselves, since the notion of creation does not belong to the sensible form of representation of existence or to causality, but can only be referred to noumena. Consequently, when I say of beings in the world of sense that they are created, I so far regard them as noumena. As it would be a contradiction, therefore, to say that God is a creator of appearances, so also it is a contradiction to say that as creator He is the cause of actions in the world of sense, and therefore as appearances, although He is the cause of the existence of the acting beings (which are noumena). If now it is possible to affirm freedom in spite of the natural mechanism of actions as appearances (by regarding existence in time as something that belongs only to appearances, not to things in themselves), then the circumstance that the acting beings are creatures cannot make the slightest difference, since creation concerns their supersensible and not their sensible existence, and therefore cannot be regarded as the determining principle of the appearances. It would be quite different if the beings in the world as things in themselves (235) existed in time, since in that case the creator of substance would be at the same time the author of the whole mechanism of this substance.
Of so great importance is the separation of time (as well as space) from the existence of things in themselves which was effected in the Critique of the Pure Speculative Reason.
It may be said that the solution here proposed involves great difficulty in itself, and is scarcely susceptible of a lucid exposition. But is any other solution that has been attempted, or that may be attempted, easier and more intelligible? Rather might we say that the dogmatic teachers of metaphysics have shown more shrewdness than candour in keeping this difficult point out of sight as much as possible, in the hope that if they said nothing about it, probably no one would think of it. If science is to be advanced, all difficulties must be laid open, and we must even search for those that are hidden, for every difficulty calls forth a remedy, which cannot be discovered without science gaining either in extent or in exactness; and thus even obstacles become means of increasing the thoroughness of science. On the other hand, if the difficulties are intentionally concealed, or merely removed by palliatives, then sooner or later they burst out into incurable mischiefs, which bring science to ruin in an absolute scepticism.
Since it is, properly speaking, the notion of freedom alone amongst all the ideas of pure speculative reason that so greatly enlarges our knowledge in the sphere of the supersensible (236), though only of our practical knowledge, I ask myself why itexclusively possesses so great fertility, whereas the others only designate the vacant space for possible beings of the pure understanding, but are unable by any means to define the concept of them. I presently find that as I cannot think anything without a category, I must first look for a category for the Rational Idea of freedom with which I am now concerned; and this is the category of causality; and although freedom, a concept of the reason, being a transcendent concept, cannot have any intuition corresponding to it, yet the concept of the understanding—for the synthesis of which the former1 demands the unconditioned—(namely, the concept of causality) must have a sensible intuition given, by which first its objective reality is assured. Now, the categories are all divided into two classes—the mathematical, which concern the unity of synthesis in the conception of objects, and the dynamical, which refer to the unity of synthesis in the conception of the existence of objects. The former (those of magnitude and quality) always contain a synthesis of the homogeneous, and it is not possible to find in this the unconditioned antecedent to what is given in sensible intuition as conditioned in space and time, as this would itself have to belong to space and time, and therefore be again still conditioned. 2 Whence it resulted in the Dialectic of Pure Theoretic Reason that the opposite methods of attaining the unconditioned and the totality of the conditions were both wrong. The categories of the second class (those of causality and of the necessity of a thing) did not require this homogeneity (of the conditioned and the condition in synthesis), since here what we have to explain is not how the intuition is compounded from a manifold in it, but only how the existence of the conditioned object corresponding to it is added to the existence of the condition (237) (added, namely, in the understanding as connected therewith); and in that case it was allowable to suppose in the supersensible world the unconditioned antecedent to the altogether conditioned in the world of sense (both as regards the causal connexion and the contingent existence of things themselves), although this unconditioned remained indeterminate, and to make the synthesis transcendent. Hence, it was found in the dialectic of the pure speculative reason that the two apparently opposite methods of obtaining for the conditioned the unconditioned were not really contradictory, e. g. in the synthesis of causality to conceive for the conditioned in the series of causes and effects of the sensible world, a causality which has no sensible condition, and that the same action which, as belonging to the world of sense, is always sensibly conditioned, that is mechanically necessary, yet at the same time may be derived from a causality not sensibly conditioned—being the causality of the acting being as belonging to the supersensible world—and may consequently be conceived as free. Now, the only point in question was to change this may be into is; that is, that we should be able to show in an actual case, as it were by a fact, that certain actions imply such a causality (namely, the intellectual, sensibly unconditioned), whether they are actual or only commanded, that is, objectively necessary in a practical sense. We could not hope to find this connexion in actions actually given in experience as events of the sensible world, since causality with freedom must always be sought outside the world of sense in the world of intelligence. But things of sense are the only things offered to our perception and observation. Hence, nothing remained but to find an inconstestable objective principle of causality which excludes all sensible conditions: that is, a principle in which reason does not appeal further to something else as a determining ground of its causality (238), but contains this determining ground itself by means of that principle, and in which therefore it is itself as pure reason practical. Now, this principle had not to be searched for or discovered; it had long been in the reason of all men, and incorporated in their nature, and is the principle of morality. Therefore, that unconditioned causality, with the faculty of it, namely, freedom, is no longer merely indefinitely and problematically thought (this speculative reason could prove to be feasible), but is even as regards the law of its causality definitely and assertorially known; and with it the fact that a being (I myself) belonging to the world of sense, belongs also to the supersensible world, this is also positively known, and thus the reality of the supersensible world is established, and in practical respects definitely given, and this definiteness, which for theoretical purposes would be transcendent, is for practical purposes immanent. We could not, however, make a similar step as regards the second dynamical idea, namely, that of a necessary being. We could not rise to it from the sensible world without the aid of the first dynamical idea. For if we attempted to do so, we should have ventured to leave at a bound all that is given to us, and to leap to that of which nothing is given us that can help us to effect the connexion of such a supersensible being with the world of sense (since the necessary being would have to be known as given outside ourselves). On the other hand, it is now obvious that this connexion is quite possible in relation to our own subject, inasmuch as I know myself to be on the one side as an intelligible [supersensible] being determined by the moral law (by means of freedom), and on the other side as acting in the world of sense. It is the concept of freedom alone that enables us to find the unconditioned and intelligible [supersensible] for the conditioned and sensible without going out of ourselves (239). For it is our own reason that by means of the supreme and unconditional practical law knows that itself, and the being that is conscious of this law (our own person) belongs to the pure world of understanding, and moreover defines the manner in which, as such, it can be active. In this way it can be understood why in the whole faculty of reason it is the practical reason only that can help us to pass beyond the world of sense, and give us knowledge of a supersensible order and connexion, which, however, for this very reason cannot be extended further than is necessary for pure practical purposes.
Let me be permitted on this occasion to make one more remark, namely, that every step that we make with pure reason, even in the practical sphere where no attention is paid to subtile speculation, nevertheless accords with all the material points of the Critique of the Theoretical Reason as closely and directly as if each step had been thought out with deliberate purpose to establish this confirmation. Such a thorough agreement, wholly unsought for, and quite obvious (as any one can convince himself, if he will only carry moral inquiries up to their principles) between the most important propositions of practical reason, and the often seemingly too subtile and needless remarks of the Critique of the Speculative Reason, occasions surprise and astonishment, and confirms the maxim already recognized and praised by others, namely, that in every scientific inquiry we should pursue our way steadily with all possible exactness and frankness, without caring for any objections that may be raised from outside its sphere, but, as far as we can, to carry out our inquiry truthfully and completely by itself. Frequent observation has convinced me that when such researches are concluded, that which in one part of them appeared to me very questionable (240), considered in relation to other extraneous doctrines, when I left this doubtfulness out of sight for a time, and only attended to the business in hand until it was completed, at last was unexpectedly found to agree perfectly with what had been discovered separately without the least regard to those doctrines, and without any partiality or prejudice for them. Authors would save themselves many errors and much labour lost (because spent on a delusion), if they could only resolve to go to work with more frankness.