Kant Groundwork notes

Kant Groundwork notes - Kant Groundwork of the Metaphysics...

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Kant Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals Notes from Cambridge edition Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) was born in Eastern Prussia. He was brought up and lived a religious life, and his philosophical ideas are not distinct from his religious beliefs even though he tries to base morality on the supreme principle of human reason. He equates his project in philosophy in general to the work of Copernicus. While Copernicus altered the conception of the universe by placing the sun at the center of the solar system, Kant is transforming the conception of morals and philosophy by instituting the supremacy of human reason to discern absolutes of right and wrong, good and evil, etc. The Groundwork fits into his system as the work needed to explain further books he intends to write in his general revolution of philosophy, in this case moral philosophy. What is needed, he suggests, is the establishment of the “ supreme principle of morality ” (page 5). Once he has this principle established he can go on to his other work and provide a metaphysics of morals, and further a critique of pure practical reason. But these works are not our concern. A couple concepts are needed to begin Kant’s groundwork: analytic, synthetic, a priori and a posteriori . These are described well in the introduction to the Cambridge edition text. Analytic refers to the purity of a judgment—that is, if a judgment is analytic it needs nothing beyond itself to be known or defined; it is true by definition. Synthetic judgments are those which the predicate of the judgment adds something new to the judgment. For example, “the ball is red” is a synthetic judgment because “ball” does not analytically necessitate the property of “red” be a part of this particular ball. In other words, synthetic judgments require experience and analytic judgments require the absence of experience. The analytic/synthetic distinction leads into the other distinction: a priori and a posteriori . A priori judgments are those made without regard for experience. The judgment is independent of experience, and so it is applicable to all experience. A posteriori judgments are known through experience, and thus are particular or tied to what has been experienced in the past or present. The relationship of these two categories of judgments are complicated but limited, and clearly set forth in the introduction. If a judgment is known a posteriori, it must be synthetic. If a judgment is known a priori, it is analytic. There is a third kind of judgment, the kind that concerns the present book: synthetic a priori judgments. Kant is here trying to set forward what this is and why it is necessary. This kind of judgment would be one in which something new is discovered from the predicate of the judgment (synthetic), and yet this new knowledge is derived independently of experience (a priori). (The fourth possibility, an analytic a posteriori judgment, is by definition impossible in Kant’s view.) Preface Kant’s Preface to the text is confusing due to its strictly logical nature. In it he lays out a schematic of
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course PHIL 101 taught by Professor Phil during the Spring '08 term at UMBC.

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Kant Groundwork notes - Kant Groundwork of the Metaphysics...

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