In The Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant seems to be pretty straight forward with his philosophy. His philosophy is that people should only act on the maxim that will, at the same time, become a universal law for everyone else. It seems that Kant focuses primarily on what the outcome of the maxim is rather than how it is approached. He basically states that if you like doing good, or like doing bad, it doesn’t matter if you do good. It only matter if you do the good based on pure reason alone. I sort of agree with Kant on this, however, I feel that there should be more to what he says. I feel as though you can’t just sit there and think about what outcome is best for everyone because at some point there would have to be a line drawn where the good is not going to be the best for everyone.
With Kant, everything seems to be in a continuous cycle. Everything starts with the self will, then goes to the maxim, and then to the object of volition. The way I interpreted this and how I understood how these work was I looked at the self will as sort of the subject of a sentence, the maxim as the verb, and the object of volition as the direct object. This means that the self will is the will that you choose to use. It is how you determine the will, what the will is, whether it is good or bad, or it is a will that is predisposed. The maxim is simply how the will of choice is executed and what you are going to do with the chosen will. The object volition is what is being affected by the maxim of the will you choose. It is simply what the will does. from the object of volition there could be two directions to go. One direction is the autonomous way and the other is the heteronomous way.
The autonomous way is what Kant believes to be the good. This is Kant’s categorical imperative, or moral law. For Kant, the term autonomous seems to be how an individual taps into something universal in the self. From here this brings about freedom which ultimately returns back to the self will.
The heteronomous direction for Kant is what could be viewed as “the bad”. This direction is when a person is governed b his or her own desires. This is known as the hypothetical imperative. This is the lower faculty of desire for Kant. This also brings you right back to the self will. Kant also says that when we think selfishly we are also thinking that this should be good for others as well. This brings about a dilemma in Kant’s ethics. He says we should choose the maxim that is best for everyone else. But if he’s saying that when we think selfishly we are thinking that it is best for everyone else, then how do we know what is going to be best for everyone else? With Kantian ethics it seems that we would have to tap into the minds of every individual on the planet to see what he or she approves of him and come to an ultimate conclusion on what would be best for everyone based on what everyone has in common. Kant seems to present an argument with his own ethics. This just makes Kant’s ethics cancel out because he is telling us to do one thing and then later refuting it by saying it is impossible to do. He doesn’t say this directly but it seems to be the direction he is taking.
After reading all of Kant I have decided that I think that this particular book that Kant wrote has basically no substance to it and his practices are somewhat invalid. Granted he wrote this book in the 1700’s, things may have been very different back then and these concepts may have made sense to the people of that time. However in modern times I feel as though Kantian ethics would not last very long in our society. I feel as though many people would look at Kant and just laugh at him and say, “You can’t be serious.” One thing I do agree with in Kant, however, is that we shouldn’t treat people as objects existing to serve our own ends, but to treat as if their goals and desires are just important as yours. He is saying that we shouldn’t be selfish and that we should use ourselves as objects in other people’s desires. But wouldn’t that make the other people selfish? Maybe, but it’s not making you selfish so it should be okay, according to Kant. After reading this entire book I do not like the direction in which it went in and I do not agree with most of what Kant had to say. I feel as though I was cheated because when I first began reading it he made sense and I agreed with what he had to say. Then he went and flipped his argument over and made it invalid.