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III.: man is by nature bad. - 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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man is by nature bad.
“Vitiis nemo sine nascitur.”
According to what has been said above, the proposition: Man is bad can only mean: He is conscious of the moral law, and yet has adopted into his maxim (occasional) deviation therefrom. He is by nature bad is equivalent to saying: This holds of him considered as a species; not as if such a quality could be inferred from the specific conception of man (that of man in general) (for then it would be necessary); but by what is known of him through experience he cannot be otherwise judged, or it may be presupposed as subjectively necessary in every man, even the best.
Now this propensity itself must be considered as morally bad, and consequently not as a natural property, but as something that can be imputed to the man, and consequently must consist in maxims of the elective will which are opposed to the law; but on account of freedom these must be looked upon as in themselves contingent, which is inconsistent with the universality of this badness, unless the ultimate subjective ground of all maxims is, by whatever means, interwoven with humanity, and, as it were, rooted in it; hence we call this a natural propensity to evil; and as the man must, nevertheless, always incur the blame of it, (36) it may be called even a radical badness in human nature, innate (but not the less drawn upon us by ourselves).
Now that there must be such a corrupt propensity rooted in men need not be formally proved in the face of the multitude of crying examples which experience sets before one’s eyes in the acts of man. If examples are desired from that state in which many philosophers hoped to find pre-eminently the natural goodness of human nature, namely, the so-called state of nature, we need only look at the instances of unprovoked cruelty in the scenes of murder in Tofoa, New Zealand, the NavigatorIslands, and the never-ceasing instances in the wide wastes of North-West America (mentioned by Captain Hearne), 1 where no one has even the least advantage from it; 2 and comparing these with that hypothesis, we have vices of savage life more than enough to make us abandon that opinion. On the other hand, if one is disposed to think that human nature can be better known in a civilized condition (in which its characteristic properties can be more perfectly developed), then one must listen to a long melancholy litany of complaints of humanity; (37) of secret falsehood, even in the most intimate friendship, so that it is reckoned a general maxim of prudence that even the best friends should restrain their confidence in their mutual intercourse; of a propensity to hate the man to whom one is under an obligation, for which a benefactor must always be prepared; of a hearty good-will, which nevertheless admits the remark that “in the misfortunes of our best friends there is something which is not altogether displeasing to us”; 3 and of many other vices concealed under the appearance of virtue, not to mention the vices of those who do not conceal them, because we are satisfied to call a man good who is a bad man of the average class. This will give one enough of the vices of culture and civilization (the most mortifying of all) to make him turn away his eye from the conduct of men, lest he should fall into another vice, namely, misanthropy. If he is not yet satisfied, however, he need only take into consideration a condition strangely compounded of both, namely, the external condition of nations—for the relation of civilized nations to one another is that of a rude state of nature (a state of perpetual preparation for war), and they are also firmly resolved never to abandon it—and he will become aware of principles adopted by the great societies called States,1 (38) which directly contradict the public profession, and yet are never to be laid aside, principles which no philsopher has yet been able to bring into agreement with morals, nor (sad to say) can they propose any better which would be reconcilable with human nature; so that the philosophical millennium, which hopes for a state of perpetual peace founded on a union of nations as a republic of the world, is generally ridiculed as visionary, just as much as the theological, which looks for the complete moral improvement of the whole human race.
Now the source of this badness (1) cannot, as is usually done, be placed in the sensibility of man and the natural inclinations springing therefrom. For not only have these no direct reference to badness (on the contrary, they afford the occasion for the moral character to show its power, occasion for virtue), but further we are not responsible for their existence (we cannot be, for being implanted in us they have not us for their authors), whereas we are accountable for the propensity to evil; for as this concerns the morality of the subject, and is consequently found in him as a freely acting being, it must be imputed to him as his own fault, notwithstanding its being so deeply rooted in the elective will that it must be said to be found in man by nature. The source of this evil (2) cannot be placed in a corruption of Reason which gives the moral law (39), as if Reason could abolish the authority of the law in itself and disown its obligation; for this is absolutely impossible. To conceive one’s self as a freely acting being, and yet released from the law which is appropriate to such a being (the moral law), would be the same as to conceive a cause operating without any law (for determination by natural laws is excluded by freedom), and this would be a contradiction. For the purpose then of assigning a source of the moral evil in man, sensibility contains too little, for in taking away the motives which arise from freedom it makes him a mere animal being; on the other hand, a Reason releasing from the moral law, a malignant reason, as it were (a simply bad Rational Will, [“Wille”] involves too much, for by this antagonism to the law would itself be made a spring of action (for the elective will cannot be determined without some spring), so that the subject would be made a devilish being. Neither of these views, however, is applicable to man.
Now although the existence of this propensity to evil in human nature can be shown by experience, from the actual antagonism in time between human will and the law, yet this proof does not teach us its proper nature and the source of this antagonism. This propensity concerns a relation of the free elective will (an elective will, therefore, the conception of which is not empirical) to the moral law as a spring (the conception of which is likewise purely intellectual); its nature then must be cognized à priori from the concept of the Bad, so far as the laws of freedom (obligation and accountability) bear upon it. The following is the development of the concept:—
Man (even the worst) does not in any maxim, as it were, rebelliously abandon the moral law (and renounce obedience to it). (40) On the contrary, this forces itself upon him irresistibly by virtue of his moral nature, and if no other spring opposed it he would also adopt it into his ultimate maxim as the adequate determining principle of his elective will, that is, he would be morally good. But by reason of his physical nature, which is likewise blameless, he also depends on sensible springs of action, and adopts them also into his maxim (by the subjective principle of self-love). If, however, he adopted them into his maxim as adequate of themselves alone to determine his will without regarding the moral law (which he has within), then he would be morally bad. Now as he naturally adopts both into his maxim, and as he would find each, if it were alone, sufficient to determine his will, it follows that if the distinction of the maxims depended merely on the distinction of the springs (the matter of the maxims), namely, according as they were furnished by the law or by an impulse of sense, he would be morally good and bad at once, which (as we saw in the Introduction) is a contradiction. Hence the distinction whether the man is good or bad must lie, not in the distinction of the springs that he adopts into his maxim, but in the subordination, i. e. which of the two he makes the condition of the other (that is, not in the matter of the maxim but in its form). Consequently a man (even the best) is bad only by this, that he reverses the moral order of the springs in adopting them into his maxims; he adopts, indeed, the moral law along with that of self-love; but perceiving that they cannot subsist together on equal terms, but that one must be subordinate to the other as its supreme condition, he makes the spring of self-love and its inclinations the condition of obedience to the moral law; whereas, on the contrary, the latter ought to be adopted into the general maxims of the elective will as the sole spring, being the supreme condition of the satisfaction of the former.
(41) The springs being thus reversed by his maxim, contrary to the moral order, his actions may, nevertheless, conform to the law just as though they had sprung from genuine principles: provided reason employs the unity of maxims in general, which is proper to the moral law, merely for the purpose of introducing into the springs of inclination a unity that does not belong to them, under the name of happiness (ex. gr. that truthfulness, if adopted as a principle, relieves us of the anxiety to maintain consistency in our lies and to escape being entangled in their serpent coils). In which case the empirical character is good, but the intelligible character bad.
Now if there is in human nature a propensity to this, then there is in man a natural propensity to evil; and since this propensity itself must ultimately be sought in a free elective will, and therefore can be imputed, it is morally bad. This badness is radical, because it corrupts the source of all maxims; and at the same time being a natural propensity, it cannot be destroyed by human powers, since this could only be done by good maxims; and when by hypothesis the ultimate subjective source of all maxims is corrupt, these cannot exist; nevertheless, it must be possible to overcome it, since it is found in man as a freely acting being.
The depravity of human nature, then, is not so much to be called badness, if this word is taken in its strict sense, namely, as a disposition (subjective principle of maxims) to adopt the bad, as bad, into one’s maxims as a spring (for that is devilish); but rather perversity of heart, which, on account of the result, is also called a bad heart. (42) This may co-exist with a Will [“Wille”] good in general, and arises from the frailty of human nature, which is not strong enough to follow its adopted principles, combined with its impurity in not distinguishing the springs (even of well-intentioned actions) from one another by moral rule. So that ultimately it looks at best only to the conformity of its actions with the law, not to their derivation from it, that is, to the law itself as the only spring. Now although this does not always give rise to wrong actions and a propensity thereto, that is, to vice, yet the habit of regarding the absence of vice as a conformity of the mind to the law of duty (as virtue) must itself be designated a radical perversity of the human heart (since in this case the spring in the maxims is not regarded at all, but only the obedience to the letter of the law).
This is called innate guilt (reatus), because it can be perceived as soon as ever the use of freedom manifests itself in man, and nevertheless must have arisen from freedom, and therefore may be imputed. It may in its two first degrees (of frailty and impurity) be viewed as unintentional guilt (culpa), but in the third as intentional (dolus), and it is characterized by a certain malignancy of the human heart (dolus malus), deceiving itself as to its own good or bad dispositions, and provided only its actions have not the bad result which by their maxims they might well have, then not disquieting itself about its dispositions, but, on the contrary, holding itself to be justified before the law. Hence comes the peace of conscience of so many (in their own opinion conscientious) men, when amidst actions in which the law was not taken into counsel, (43) or at least was not the most important consideration, they have merely had the good fortune to escape bad consequences. Perhaps they even imagine they have merit, not feeling themselves guilty of any of the transgressions in which they see others involved; without inquiring whether fortune is not to be thanked for this, and whether the disposition which, if they would, they could discover within, would not have led them to the practice of the like vices, had they not been kept away from them by want of power, by temperament, education, circumstances of time and place which lead into temptation (all things that cannot be imputed to us). This dishonesty in imposing on ourselves, which hinders the establishment of genuine moral principle in us, extends itself then outwardly also to falsehood and deception of others which, if it is not to be called badness, at least deserves to be called worthlessness, and has its root in the radical badness of human nature, which (inasmuch as it perverts the moral judgment in respect of the estimation to be formed of a man, and renders imputation quite uncertain both internally and externally) constitutes the corrupt spot in our nature, which, as long as we do not extirpate it, hinders the source of good from developing itself as it otherwise would.
A member of the English Parliament uttered in the heat of debate the declaration, “Every man has his price.” 1 If this is true (which every one may decide for himself)—if there is no virtue for which a degree of temptation cannot be found which is capable of overthrowing it—if the question whether the good or the bad spirit shall gain us to its side only depends on which bids highest and offers most prompt payment—then what the Apostle says might well be true of men universally: “There is no difference, they are altogether sinners; there is none that doeth good (according to the spirit of the law), no not one.” 2