Reason alone

“Reason is concerned with the determining grounds of the will…”

“reason can at least suffice to determine the will and always has objective reality insofar as volition alone is at issue. The first question here, then, is whether pure reason of itself alone suffices to determine the will”

“If it is assumed that pure reason can contain within itself a practical ground, that is, one sufficient to determine the will, then there are practical laws”

“A practical rule is always a product of reason”

“Reason, from which alone can arise any rule that is to contain necessity … it is requisite to reason’s lawgiving that it should need to presuppose only itself”

Repeat lines like that for about 160 pages and you have the second Critique. I’ve been thinking about Kant’s complete reverence and awe towards reason. Look what reason does in all these quotes: it has objective reality, it is necessity, it presupposes itself, it is law giving, and it grounds the will. Kant tells us later that reason gives us the moral law. It is as if reason has given this to us as a gift. Reason has moved from a tool to an existent thing, as if it had an ontology. Kant’s project is to move beyond reasonable actions into “doing reason” itself, this is morality. There is no room for any other account for Kant.

It may seem like every ethicist is doing this, trying to give us a way to live in accordance with reason. I think Kant goes deeper than that. His attitude towards reason shows us that acting reasonably just isn’t enough. It must determine our wills wholly. The only way to freedom is to ground our will in the moral law (remember, reason gives us this), therefore determining it completely. Even more than this, Kant claims this and no other is freedom. The only way out of our will’s being ground in our own varying emotions and tastes, the way out of subjective and conditional volition, is reason. Reason gives us what we need to be free.

Reason is no longer what we use to get morality, it becomes morality. the question then: what does it mean to talk about reason this way?

~ by Barky on October 16, 2011.

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