12 Jun 2010
Kant 's "Good Will"
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is one of the most influential philosophers in history of Western philosophy. A main representative of the Western-European classical philosophy, Immanuel Kant dealt with the best traditions of the German idealism. A human personality, according to Kant is the highest and absolute value. It is the personality, in Kant’s understanding, that towers the person over its own self and links the human being with the “order of things”. The “order of things”, according to Kant is the reflection of the “common sense”. The whole perceived world around us complies with the “order of things”. The most interesting part of Kant’s philosophy is that his …show more content…
At this point is necessary to come back to the term “good will”.
The absence of a good will makes unacceptable generally needed personal qualities such as wittiness, ability to judge, courage, decisiveness and many others. Kant implies that these qualities may become “evil” in case when they are not supported by the good will. From the philosopher’s opinion a good will forms, probably, the most essential condition not only of being happy but even of being worthy to be happy.
The essence of a “good will”
A “good will” is a will, not able to be cruel or evil. The “supposition” of goodness forms the nature of the good will. Goodness it the main requirement of the existence of the “good will” according to Immanuel Kant. A good will is a will in which subjective characteristics of an individual do not prevent but define and help the “desire to do good”. Good will in its own sense is a unity of liberty and law, mind and goodness. The purity of determination of the will by the mind is the real meaning of its goodness. Kant also refers to the “absolute good will”. The “sanctity” of this good will in Kant’s understanding comes from its superiority over Kant’s ordinary ”good will”. Kant views the absolute good will as the moral destination of the human mind. It is the main goal of the highest gift humanity has ever gotten – the human mind. Kant interprets this form of will as a “pure” will. Kant through his notion “good
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Kant elucidate the meaning of human good by talking about three qualities: power, pleasure and dignity. By reading each of the philosopher’s text individually, the reader is able to recognize which quality is most imperative to each philosopher. Additionally, each philosopher illuminates the importance of that certain good and provides a feasible reason for their choosing by presenting general ideas that enables the reader to gain a meticulous understanding of their subjective meaning of each good and its importance.
The subject of good will for Kant is controversial. Kant believes that good will is not based on a reaction to the consequences, either negative or positive, merely by the intention of which the act was made. When an action is done in good will, the reasoning is not emotional (Johnson, 2008). It does not done out of sympathy or empathy for the individual, rather by a sense of duty. This is the controversial part because many believe that while good will is based on positive intentions, the act is performed through a feeling of love for the fellow man. Kant believes that good will focuses on all human beings regardless of feelings of love, friendship, bond, hatred, or lack of caring. This is why the best way to describe it is duty. However, Kant was not implying that no other motivating factor fuels good will. He was simply stating that when there is a dilemma that has the individual questioning the good will or morality of a decision that it is best to look at it from an unbiased view (Johnson, 2008). Removing emotional attachment from the situation has already proven to be helpful in making rational decisions in an otherwise difficult moment.
In Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, Immanuel Kant seeks to develop a clear understanding of moral principles. Qualities of character and fortune can be exercised for either good or bad purposes, and only the good will is naturally and inherently good. Humans are at once rational and natural beings; our reason and natural characteristics are distinct from each other. Kant suggests that we must choose either to follow our rational or natural capacities. Although man’s highest purpose may seem to be self-preservation and happiness, as rational beings our highest purpose is to develop this good will. Our instinct leads us to the pursuit happiness and self-preservation, but the will developed by our reason would be good in itself and
Kant believed that no consequence could have fundamental moral worth because the only thing that is good in and of it self is the Good Will. The Good Will freely chooses to do something precisely because it is one’s moral duty, and that duty is dictated by reason.
As it is a stated fact, Kant’s claim is that good will is the only intrinsic good. Now, what exactly does Kant mean by this claim that he makes? I think that it is important to mention what good will is. So, good will has two parts, “one is the ability to determine what your duty is and two is have a steady commitment to do your duty for its own sake.” Intrinsic goods are “those things that whose value consists in the fact that they help to bring about other good things.” So what exactly does Kant mean when he says that good will is the only intrinsic good? Basically it boils down to this, you have to have the right intentions when doing something and obey the moral law and in those things are where you find what is intrinsically good.
Kant's argument that good will is the supreme purpose of man's existence based on observations of the influence that reason exerts on the will is inconsistent with what may be observed in nature. It presupposes an intentional cosmos wherein an organized being's purpose, and thus its standard of value, can be extracted from an examination of its constitution and faculties. While this presupposition is logically consistent with the rest of Kant's moral theory it does not coincide with what we can actually observe in nature. The following essay will examine, one, the idea of an organized being, secondly, why Kant proposes it, then we will contrast this idea with what we observe, and finally, analyse the extent of the harm done to the
According to Kant, a person’s will is also known as their want to do something. This means that if a person has a good will he or she had a good reason to act on something. Kant also states that the rather or not a person is right or wrong in doing something is based off of reasoning. It is because of this that it can also be concluded that Kant believes no matter what if a person has a “good will” that person also has a “right will”.
All other candidates for an intrinsic good have complications, Kant argues. Courage, health, and wealth can all be used for ill purposes and therefore cannot be intrinsically good. Happiness is not intrinsically good because even being worthy of happiness, requires that one possess a good will. The good will is the only unconditional good despite all advances. Misfortune may render someone incapable of achieving their goals, for instance, but the goodness of their will remains.
in itself; and, considered by itself” (Kant, 7). The only thing that is good without qualification is the good will, Kant says. All other candidates for an intrinsic good have problems, Kant argues. Courage, health, and wealth can all be used for ill purposes, Kant argues, and since then, can not be intrinsically good. Happiness is not intrinsically good because even being worthy of happiness, Kant suggests, requires that one possess a good will. The good will is the only unconditional good. Misfortune may leave someone incapable of achieving their goals, for instance, but the goodness of their will remains. According to Kant, doing something out of good will means doing it strictly for the sake of duty. You do the right thing because it is your job to do so. As soon as you are doing an act out of the fact that you are inclined to do so because of some reward, or pleasure that is involved then that act will not account for your good will. Kant is straight to the point duty
Immanuel Kant and Aristotle are two of the most prominent philosophers on ethics and morals. Each has their own idea about human life and what the highest good is. It has even been said that in his Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals Kant disproves Aristotle’s view. In order to prove that Kant successfully disproves Aristotle’s theory, we must first understand both theories. After a successful understanding has been acquired only then can we prove that Kant’s completely disproves Aristotle’s theory.
In fact it’s not even necessary to even think of these traits or even the consequences of their good, as the good will, will always be good. Kant puts this idea as such, “The good will of this person would sparkle like a jewel all by itself, as something that had its full worth in itself. Its value wouldn’t go up or down depending on how useful or fruitless it was.” There is no need to focus on the consequences of good when there is a good will. It is important to make the distinction here that the good will is not something that is part of our psychology, the good will is just something that is, and in itself without any other condition good.
+The one thing in the world that is considered good without conditions is good will itself. This is due to the fact that many qualities are considered good and yet those same traits can turn bad and harmful. For example, intelligence can be seen as a positive trait with good intentions, however if you use that intelligence for the wrong reasons, examples being the plethora of dictators in history including Stalin, Hitler etc, then that “good” quality becomes a quality with bad intentions. Good will is intrinsically good even if the results brought about are not as intended because “good will is good for how it wills.” (Kant, Page 5) There are two purposes therefore to be considered one being the unconditional purpose of producing a good will and the conditional purpose of being happy. “Of these requires the cultivation of reason, which at least in this life in many ways limits and can indeed almost eliminate the goal of happiness.” (Kant, Page 7) Kant, unlike Aristotle, believes that moral behavior does not mean the guarantee of obtaining happiness rather that good will is essential to earning happiness. Kant continues his writing by stating that good will is present in the concept of duty and it is his goal to show the difference between doing something for duty and doing it for other reasons. Kant believes the fact that those who successfully exercise their will in overcoming a temptation are morally more praiseworthy than those who are not tempted at all because they do
Kant’s argument suggests that good will is the only thing good without qualification. First, Kant begins to distinguish between things that are good without qualification and things that are good only under certain qualified conditions. For example, gifts of nature such as understanding, wit, and judgement, or gifts of fortune such as power, riches, or honor may be used for the good or bad, and they also have limited
All humans have some type of understanding of what good will is, as it is a reason or a determination of the proper thing to do at the right time or period. Rather than the human reaction to try and satisfy or make oneself happy, humans would be and should be more naturally inclined to make possible good will and being good which this will bring about unintentional happiness or satisfaction. Then Kant going on to explain that by using reason in a situation, humans would not be able to attain good will as reason cannot be used on a unconditional basis and that would cloud judgement.