A Brief Intro to Kant and his rule
A MUST RULE TO FOLLOW IN YOUR LIFE
(ps–This article is inspired from Immanuel Kant life ( a great philosopher))
Kant was one of the most influential thinkers in modern history. His philosophy of morality doesn’t just have lofty, theoretical implications. We can apply it to our daily lives as well.
Depending on your perspective Immanuel Kant was either the most boring person on the planet or a productivity hacker’s wet dream. If you are living in a democratic society that protects individual rights, you have Kant to partially thank for that.
He described space/time in such a way that it inspired Einstein’s discovery of relativity. He reinvented moral philosophy, from top to bottom. Kant was really an intellectual badass.
And that’s what I want to talk about Kant’s moral philosophy, and why it matters.
Anytime you say, “who cares❓” or “what’s the big deal❓” you’re essentially questioning the value of something. Is it worth your time and attention❓Is it better/worse than something else❓Is it better/worse than something else❓These are all questions of value, they all fall under the umbrella of moral philosophy.
Our moral philosophy determines our values — what we care about and what we don’t care about — and our values determines our decisions , actions and beliefs. Therefore, moral philosophy applies to everything in our lives. Got it❓ Good.
Kant’s moral philosophy is unique and counterintuitive. Kant believed that for something to be good, it had to be universal-– that is, it can’t be “right” to do something in one situation and “wrong” to do it in other. If lying is wrong, it has to be wrong all the time (according to Kant). If it isn’t always right or wrong, then that cannot be a valid ethical principle.
Kant called these universalized ethical principles ‘categorical imperatives’ – – rules to live by that are valid in all contexts, in every situation, to every human being. Its implications reach into every area of each person’s life. In a single sentence, it sums up the bulk of all of our ethical intuitions and assumptions. And in each situation, it points to a clear direction for how we should be acting and why.
ONE RULE TO…….. RULE THEM ALL…….
Understanding Kant's rule
Okkkayy, enough foreplay.
Here’s Kant rule – –
“Act that you use humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end, never merely as a means.”
Kant believed that rationality was sacred. When I say rationality, I don’t mean like sudoku or chess grandmaster rationality. I mean rationality as the fact that we are the only known creatures in the universe that are able to make decisions, weigh options, and consider the moral implications of any and every action.
To Kant, the only thing that distinguishes us from the rest of the universe is our ability to process information and act out consciously in the world. And this, to him, is special. Exceedingly special. For all we know, we are the only shot the universe has at intelligent self-organization. Therefore, we need to take it seriously. And, therefore, rationality and protecting conscious choice must be the basis for all of our moral reasoning.
Kant wrote that “without rationality, the universe would be a waste, in vain, and without purpose.” To Kant’s mind, without intelligence, and the freedom to exercise that intelligence, we might as well just all be a bunch of rocks. Nothing would matter.
Therefore, Kant believed that all morality is derived from the protection and promotion of rational consciousness in each individual.
So, how do you do that?
Well, Kant’s Rule above.
Let’s restate Kant’s Rule in more modern language to make it more easily digestible:
“Each person must never be treated only as a means to some other end, but must also be treated as an end themselves.”
If you call a friend to find out how they’re doing, calling them is a means, finding out how they are doing is your end. If you leave a party early so you can wake up early in the morning, leaving the party is the means, and waking up early is your end.
Means are things that we do conditionally to achieve our end.
Let’s see one more example – – our lovebooks team’s end is to inspire somebody a bit so that he/she should be happy that they did it what they wanted to achieve abd writing articles for that is our means to reach that end.
Let’s give Kant’s Rule the common sense check.
Lying is wrong because you are misleading another person’s conscious behavior in order to achieve your own goal. You are therefore treating that person as a means to your own end. Therefore, lying is unethical.
Cheating is unethical for a similar reason. You are violating the expectations of other rational and sentient beings for your own personal aims. You are treating the rules and expectations agreed to with others as a means to your own personal end.
Violence, same deal: you are treating another person as a means to some greater political or personal end. Bad, person. Bad!
Moral Implications Of Kant's Rule
The Moral Implications of Kant’s Rule
Laziness – OK, I’m as lazy as the next guy. Full disclosure. And I often feel guilty about it. But for whatever reason, this short-term gain vs long-term loss calculation never seems to inspire us or move us. But that’s not why Kant thinks it’s wrong.
In fact, Kant would say that this is the wrong way to think about laziness. It’s insufficient. Kant believed that we all had a moral imperative to do the best we can at all times. But he didn’t say to do your best because of self-esteem or personal utility or contributing to society or whatever. He went even further than that. He argued you should do your best because anything less is to treat ourselves as a means rather than an end.Yes, you can treat yourself as means, as well.When you’re sitting on the couch, refreshing Twitter for the 28th time, you’re treating your mind and your attention as a mere pleasure-receptacle. You are not maximizing the potential of your consciousness. In fact, you are using your consciousness as a means to stimulate your emotional ends.
This is not only bad, Kant would argue, but it’s unethical. You are actively harming yourself.
People Pleasing and Seeking Approval – Isn’t being really nice to people and making them happy an ethical thing to do? Not necessarily. Seeking approval and people pleasing forces you to alter your actions and speech to no longer reflect what you actually think or feel. So, right there, you’re already treating yourself as a means rather than an end. BUT, it gets worse. Because if you alter your speech or behavior in order to make others like you, then you are also treating them as a means to your end. You are altering and manipulating their perceptions of you in order to garner a pleasant response from them. Kant would undoubtedly argue that that is also unethical. I’ve written at length about how people pleasing and seeking approval leads to toxic relationships. But again, as usual, Kant takes it even further.
The Duty of Self-Improvement – Most philosophers of the Enlightenment believed that the best way to live is to increase happiness as much as possible, and to reduce suffering as much as possible. This approach to ethics is called ‘utilitarianism’ and is still the predominant view held by many thinkers today.
Kant had a completely different take on how to go about improving the world. Let’s call it The Michael Jackson Maxim. Because Kant, like Michael, believed that if you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and make that change. But instead of grabbing his crotch, Kant made his argument with brutal rationality. Here’s how he argued it:
Kant believed that, generally, it is impossible to know whether a person deserves to be happy or suffer because you can never truly know what their intentions and aims were when they acted.
Similarly, even if you should make others happy, there’s no way to precisely know how to make them happy. You do not know their feelings, values, or expectations. You do not know the implications your actions will have on them.
Kant defined self-improvement as developing the ability to adhere to the categorical imperative. And he saw self-improvement as a duty—an undebatable obligation put on us all.
To Kant, the reward/punishment for not following one’s duty was not in heaven or hell, but in the life one made for oneself. Adherence to morality produced not only a better life for yourself but a better life for all of those around you. Similarly, failure to adhere to morality would produce unnecessary suffering for oneself and for those around you.
Kant’s Rule has a ripple effect. Your improved ability to be honest with yourself will increase how honest you are with others. And your honesty with others will influence them to be more honest with themselves, which will help them improve their lives. This is true for all aspects of Kant’s Rule, whether it’s honesty, productivity, charity, or consent. The Michael Jackson Maxim suggests that Kant’s Rule, once adopted by enough people will generate a snowball effect in the world, enacting more positive change than any calculated policy or institution.
The Impact of Kant’s Philosophy
Kant’s philosophy, if you dive into it, is riddled with inconsistencies and issues. But the power of his original ideas has undoubtedly changed the world. And strangely, when I came across them 3 months ago, they changed me.
But reading Kant was an epiphany. In only 80 pages, Kant swept away decades-worth of assumptions and beliefs.11 He showed me that what you actually do doesn’t matter as much as the purpose behind doing it. And until you find the right purpose, you haven’t found much of anything at all.
Kant calle s“developing character”—a.k.a., building a life designed around maximizing your own potential. He believed most people can’t develop true character until they reach middle age, because until then, they are still too seduced by the fancies and whims of the world, blown this way and that, from excitement to despair and back again. We’re too obsessed with accumulating more means and are hopelessly oblivious to the ends that drive us.
To develop character, a person must master their own actions and master themselves. And while few of us can accomplish that in a lifetime, Kant believed it’s something we each have a duty to work towards.