Analysis of Kant’s Categorical Imperative in Metaphysics
Grounding for the metaphysics of morals is a foundation of Kant’s philosophy, in this book, Kant wants to build up a moral kingdom of metaphysical. At first, Kant extracted categorical imperative from the concepts of goodness, will and obligation and enacted some rational principles, then, he plans to map out moral metaphysic through categorical imperative. However, he failed to do so owing to that his theory is founded on purely idealism. Mistakes in categorical imperative reveal the inherent contradiction of Kant's theory of motivation. Therefore, from the perspective of categorical imperative and its content and logic, we can better understand Kant's moral thoughts.
I. Categorical imperative and its testimony
Categorical imperative is a basic concept in Grounding for the metaphysics of morals. Yet, what does categorical imperative mean by Kant? In Kant's opinion, everything in nature works according to laws. Rational beings alone have the faculty of acting according to the conception of laws, which also means according to principles. In other words, the conception of an objective principle, in so far as it is obligatory for a will, is called a command (of reason), and the formula of the command is called an imperative. Kant divided imperatives into hypothetical imperative and categorical imperative. “All imperatives command either hypothetically or categorically. The former represented the practical necessity of a possible action as means for attaining something else that one wants (or possibly want). The categorical imperative would be one which represented an action as necessary in itself, without reference to another end” (Kant 228). By saying these, Kant tells us that we must resort to other means to achieve our goals under the conception of hypothetical imperative. For example, we have to work hard to acquiring wealth. So hypothetical imperative means: in pursuit of a particular goal, we must resort to the means by which we arrive at that goal, i.e., the behavior. In Kant’s opinion, human is not only rational, but also have some nature, emotional demands and desires. Hypothetical imperative is well proved with reference to these demands and desires. However, categorical imperative means: we are willing to have an action as necessary without reference to another end. For example, people in good faith are not for higher goals, wishes and intentions because faith in itself is the people's fundamental intent, will, and purpose, on top of it there is no higher goals.
In this sense, categorical imperative is not a special and concrete end but a common one. If hypothetical imperative comes from emotion or it is an imperative that people avoid pain in pursuit of pleasure in real life, then categorical imperative comes directly from rational part without reference to consequence. Categorical in Kant's categorical imperative means unconditional, without any restrict to experience,...