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Title: The Critique of Practical Reason

Author: Immanuel Kant

Release Date: May, 2004 [EBook #5683]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule]
[This file was first posted on August 7, 2002]

Edition: 10

Language: English

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This eBook was prepared by Matthew Stapleton.



by Immanuel Kant

translated by Thomas Kingsmill Abbott


This work is called the Critique of Practical Reason, not of the
pure practical reason, although its parallelism with the speculative
critique would seem to require the latter term. The reason of this
appears sufficiently from the treatise itself. Its business is to show
that there is pure practical reason, and for this purpose it
criticizes the entire practical faculty of reason. If it succeeds in
this, it has no need to criticize the pure faculty itself in order
to see whether reason in making such a claim does not presumptuously
overstep itself (as is the case with the speculative reason). For
if, as pure reason, it is actually practical, it proves its own
reality and that of its concepts by fact, and all disputation
against the possibility of its being real is futile.

With this faculty, transcendental freedom is also established;
freedom, namely, in that absolute sense in which speculative reason
required it in its use of the concept of causality in order to
escape the antinomy into which it inevitably falls, when in the
chain of cause and effect it tries to think the unconditioned.
Speculative reason could only exhibit this concept (of freedom)
problematically as not impossible to thought, without assuring it
any objective reality, and merely lest the supposed impossibility of
what it must at least allow to be thinkable should endanger its very
being and plunge it into an abyss of scepticism.

Inasmuch as the reality of the concept of freedom is proved by an
apodeictic law of practical reason, it is the keystone of the whole
system of pure reason, even the speculative, and all other concepts
(those of God and immortality) which, as being mere ideas, remain in
it unsupported, now attach themselves to this concept, and by it
obtain consistence and objective reality; that is to say, their
possibility is proved by the fact that freedom actually exists, for
this idea is revealed by the moral law.

Freedom, however, is the only one of all the ideas of the
speculative reason of which we know the possibility a priori (without,
however, understanding it), because it is the condition of the moral
law which we know. * The ideas of God and immortality, however, are
not conditions of the moral law, but only conditions of the necessary
object of a will determined by this law; that is to say, conditions of
the practical use of our pure reason. Hence, with respect to these
ideas, we cannot affirm that we know and understand, I will not say
the actuality, but even the possibility of them. However they are
the conditions of the application of the morally determined will to
its object, which is given to it a priori, viz., the summum bonum.
Consequently in this practical point of view their possibility must be
assumed, although we cannot theoretically know and understand it. To
justify this assumption it is sufficient, in a practical point of
view, that they contain no intrinsic impossibility (contradiction).
Here we have what, as far as speculative reason is concerned, is a
merely subjective principle of assent, which, however, is
objectively valid for a reason equally pure but practical, and this
principle, by means of the concept of freedom, assures objective
reality and authority to the ideas of God and immortality. Nay,
there is a subjective necessity (a need of pure reason) to assume
them. Nevertheless the theoretical knowledge of reason is not hereby
enlarged, but only the possibility is given, which heretofore was
merely a problem and now becomes assertion, and thus the practical use
of reason is connected with the elements of theoretical reason. And
this need is not a merely hypothetical one for the arbitrary
purposes of speculation, that we must assume something if we wish in
speculation to carry reason to its utmost limits, but it is a need
which has the force of law to assume something without which that
cannot be which we must inevitably set before us as the aim of our

{PREFACE ^paragraph 5}

* Lest any one should imagine that he finds an inconsistency here
when I call freedom the condition of the moral law, and hereafter
maintain in the treatise itself that the moral law is the condition
under which we can first become conscious of freedom, I will merely
remark that freedom is the ratio essendi of the moral law, while the
moral law is the ratio cognoscendi of freedom. For Pad not the moral
law been previously distinctly thought in our reason, we should
never consider ourselves justified in assuming such a thing as
freedom, although it be not contradictory. But were there no freedom
it would be impossible to trace the moral law in ourselves at all.

It would certainly be more satisfactory to our speculative reason if
it could solve these problems for itself without this circuit and
preserve the solution for practical use as a thing to be referred
to, but in fact our faculty of speculation is not so well provided.
Those who boast of such high knowledge ought not to keep it back,
but to exhibit it publicly that it may be tested and appreciated. They
want to prove: very good, let them prove; and the critical
philosophy lays its arms at their feet as the victors. Quid statis?
Nolint. Atqui licet esse beatis. As they then do not in fact choose to
do so, probably because they cannot, we must take up these arms
again in order to seek in the mortal use of reason, and to base on
this, the notions of God, freedom, and immortality, the possibility of
which speculation cannot adequately prove.

Here first is explained the enigma of the critical philosophy, viz.:
how we deny objective reality to the supersensible use of the
categories in speculation and yet admit this reality with respect to
the objects of pure practical reason. This must at first seem
inconsistent as long as this practical use is only nominally known.
But when, by a thorough analysis of it, one becomes aware that the
reality spoken of does not imply any theoretical determination of
the categories and extension of our knowledge to the supersensible;
but that what is meant is that in this respect an object belongs to
them, because either they are contained in the necessary determination
of the will a priori, or are inseparably connected with its object;
then this inconsistency disappears, because the use we make of these
concepts is different from what speculative reason requires. On the
other hand, there now appears an unexpected and very satisfactory
proof of the consistency of the speculative critical philosophy. For
whereas it insisted that the objects of experience as such,
including our own subject, have only the value of phenomena, while
at the same time things in themselves must be supposed as their basis,
so that not everything supersensible was to be regarded as a fiction
and its concept as empty; so now practical reason itself, without
any concert with the speculative, assures reality to a supersensible
object of the category of causality, viz., freedom, although (as
becomes a practical concept) only for practical use; and this
establishes on the evidence of a fact that which in the former case
could only be conceived. By this the strange but certain doctrine of
the speculative critical philosophy, that the thinking subject is to
itself in internal intuition only a phenomenon, obtains in the
critical examination of the practical reason its full confirmation,
and that so thoroughly that we should be compelled to adopt this
doctrine, even if the former had never proved it at all. *

{PREFACE ^paragraph 10}

* The union of causality as freedom with causality as rational
mechanism, the former established by the moral law, the latter by
the law of nature in the same subject, namely, man, is impossible,
unless we conceive him with reference to the former as a being in
himself, and with reference to the latter as a phenomenon- the
former in pure consciousness, the latter in empirical consciousness.
Otherwise reason inevitably contradicts itself.

By this also I can understand why the most considerable objections
which I have as yet met with against the Critique turn about these two
points, namely, on the one side, the objective reality of the
categories as applied to noumena, which is in the theoretical
department of knowledge denied, in the practical affirmed; and on
the other side, the paradoxical demand to regard oneself qua subject
of freedom as a noumenon, and at the same time from the point of
view of physical nature as a phenomenon in one's own empirical
consciousness; for as long as one has formed no definite notions of
morality and freedom, one could not conjecture on the one side what
was intended to be the noumenon, the basis of the alleged
phenomenon, and on the other side it seemed doubtful whether it was at
all possible to form any notion of it, seeing that we had previously
assigned all the notions of the pure understanding in its
theoretical use exclusively to phenomena. Nothing but a detailed
criticism of the practical reason can remove all this
misapprehension and set in a clear light the consistency which
constitutes its greatest merit.

So much by way of justification of the proceeding by which, in
this work, the notions and principles of pure speculative reason which
have already undergone their special critical examination are, now and
then, again subjected to examination. This would not in other cases be
in accordance with the systematic process by which a science is
established, since matters which have been decided ought only to be
cited and not again discussed. In this case, however, it was not
only allowable but necessary, because reason is here considered in
transition to a different use of these concepts from what it had
made of them before. Such a transition necessitates a comparison of
the old and the new usage, in order to distinguish well the new path
from the old one and, at the same time, to allow their connection to
be observed. Accordingly considerations of this kind, including
those which are once more directed to the concept of freedom in the
practical use of the pure reason, must not be regarded as an
interpolation serving only to fill up the gaps in the critical
system of speculative reason (for this is for its own purpose
complete), or like the props and buttresses which in a hastily
constructed building are often added afterwards; but as true members
which make the connexion of the system plain, and show us concepts,
here presented as real, which there could only be presented
problematically. This remark applies especially to the concept of
freedom, respecting which one cannot but observe with surprise that so
many boast of being able to understand it quite well and to explain
its possibility, while they regard it only psychologically, whereas if
they had studied it in a transcendental point of view, they must
have recognized that it is not only indispensable as a problematical
concept, in the complete use of speculative reason, but also quite
incomprehensible; and if they afterwards came to consider its
practical use, they must needs have come to the very mode of
determining the principles of this, to which they are now so loth to
assent. The concept of freedom is the stone of stumbling for all
empiricists, but at the same time the key to the loftiest practical
principles for critical moralists, who perceive by its means that they
must necessarily proceed by a rational method. For this reason I beg
the reader not to pass lightly over what is said of this concept at
the end of the Analytic.

I must leave it to those who are acquainted with works of this
kind to judge whether such a system as that of the practical reason,
which is here developed from the critical examination of it, has
cost much or little trouble, especially in seeking not to miss the
true point of view from which the whole can be rightly sketched. It
presupposes, indeed, the Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of
Morals, but only in so far as this gives a preliminary acquaintance
with the principle of duty, and assigns and justifies a definite
formula thereof; in other respects it is independent. * It results
from the nature of this practical faculty itself that the complete
classification of all practical sciences cannot be added, as in the
critique of the speculative reason. For it is not possible to define
duties specially, as human duties, with a view to their
classification, until the subject of this definition (viz., man) is
known according to his actual nature, at least so far as is
necessary with respect to duty; this, however, does not belong to a
critical examination of the practical reason, the business of which is
only to assign in a complete manner the principles of its possibility,
extent, and limits, without special reference to human nature. The
classification then belongs to the system of science, not to the
system of criticism.

{PREFACE ^paragraph 15}

* A reviewer who wanted to find some fault with this work has hit
the truth better, perhaps, than he thought, when he says that no new
principle of morality is set forth in it, but only a new formula.
But who would think of introducing a new principle of all morality and
making himself as it were the first discoverer of it, just as if all
the world before him were ignorant what duty was or had been in
thorough-going error? But whoever knows of what importance to a
mathematician a formula is, which defines accurately what is to be
done to work a problem, will not think that a formula is insignificant
and useless which does the same for all duty in general.

In the second part of the Analytic I have given, as I trust, a
sufficient answer to the objection of a truth-loving and acute
critic * of the Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals- a
critic always worthy of respect- the objection, namely, that the
notion of good was not established before the moral principle, as he
thinks it ought to have been. *(2) I have also had regard to many of
the objections which have reached me from men who show that they have
at heart the discovery of the truth, and I shall continue to do so
(for those who have only their old system before their eyes, and who
have already settled what is to be approved or disapproved, do not
desire any explanation which might stand in the way of their own
private opinion.)

{PREFACE ^paragraph 20}

* [See Kant's "Das mag in der Theoric ricktig seyn," etc. Werke,
vol. vii, p. 182.]

*(2) It might also have been objected to me that I have not first
defined the notion of the faculty of desire, or of the feeling of
Pleasure, although this reproach would be unfair, because this
definition might reasonably be presupposed as given in psychology.
However, the definition there given might be such as to found the
determination of the faculty of desire on the feeling of pleasure
(as is commonly done), and thus the supreme principle of practical
philosophy would be necessarily made empirical, which, however,
remains to be proved and in this critique is altogether refuted. It
will, therefore, give this definition here in such a manner as it
ought to be given, in order to leave this contested point open at
the beginning, as it should be. LIFE is the faculty a being has of
acting according to laws of the faculty of desire. The faculty of
DESIRE is the being's faculty of becoming by means of its ideas the
cause of the actual existence of the objects of these ideas.
PLEASURE is the idea of the agreement of the object, or the action
with the subjective conditions of life, i.e., with the faculty of
causality of an idea in respect of the actuality of its object (or
with the determination of the forces of the subject to action which
produces it). I have no further need for the purposes of this critique
of notions borrowed from psychology; the critique itself supplies
the rest. It is easily seen that the question whether the faculty of
desire is always based on pleasure, or whether under certain
conditions pleasure only follows the determination of desire, is by
this definition left undecided, for it is composed only of terms
belonging to the pure understanding, i.e., of categories which contain
nothing empirical. Such precaution is very desirable in all philosophy
and yet is often neglected; namely, not to prejudge questions by
adventuring definitions before the notion has been completely
analysed, which is often very late. It may be observed through the
whole course of the critical philosophy (of the theoretical as well as
the practical reason) that frequent opportunity offers of supplying
defects in the old dogmatic method of philosophy, and of correcting
errors which are not observed until we make such rational use of these
notions viewing them as a whole.

When we have to study a particular faculty of the human mind in
its sources, its content, and its limits; then from the nature of
human knowledge we must begin with its parts, with an accurate and
complete exposition of them; complete, namely, so far as is possible
in the present state of our knowledge of its elements. But there is
another thing to be attended to which is of a more philosophical and
architectonic character, namely, to grasp correctly the idea of the
whole, and from thence to get a view of all those parts as mutually
related by the aid of pure reason, and by means of their derivation
from the concept of the whole. This is only possible through the
most intimate acquaintance with the system; and those who find the
first inquiry too troublesome, and do not think it worth their while
to attain such an acquaintance, cannot reach the second stage, namely,
the general view, which is a synthetical return to that which had
previously been given analytically. It is no wonder then if they
find inconsistencies everywhere, although the gaps which these
indicate are not in the system itself, but in their own incoherent
train of thought.

I have no fear, as regards this treatise, of the reproach that I
wish to introduce a new language, since the sort of knowledge here
in question has itself somewhat of an everyday character. Nor even
in the case of the former critique could this reproach occur to anyone
who had thought it through and not merely turned over the leaves. To
invent new words where the language has no lack of expressions for
given notions is a childish effort to distinguish oneself from the
crowd, if not by new and true thoughts, yet by new patches on the
old garment. If, therefore, the readers of that work know any more
familiar expressions which are as suitable to the thought as those
seem to me to be, or if they think they can show the futility of these
thoughts themselves and hence that of the expression, they would, in
the first case, very much oblige me, for I only desire to be
understood: and, in the second case, they would deserve well of
philosophy. But, as long as these thoughts stand, I very much doubt
that suitable and yet more common expressions for them can be found. *

{PREFACE ^paragraph 25}

* I am more afraid in the present treatise of occasional
misconception in respect of some expressions which I have chosen
with the greatest care in order that the notion to which they point
may not be missed. Thus, in the table of categories of the Practical
reason under the title of Modality, the Permitted, and forbidden (in a
practical objective point of view, possible and impossible) have
almost the same meaning in common language as the next category,
duty and contrary to duty. Here, however, the former means what
coincides with, or contradicts, a merely possible practical precept
(for example, the solution of all problems of geometry and mechanics);
the latter, what is similarly related to a law actually present in the
reason; and this distinction is not quite foreign even to common
language, although somewhat unusual. For example, it is forbidden to
an orator, as such, to forge new words or constructions; in a
certain degree this is permitted to a poet; in neither case is there
any question of duty. For if anyone chooses to forfeit his
reputation as an orator, no one can prevent him. We have here only
to do with the distinction of imperatives into problematical,
assertorial, and apodeictic. Similarly in the note in which I have
pared the moral ideas of practical perfection in different
philosophical schools, I have distinguished the idea of wisdom from
that of holiness, although I have stated that essentially and
objectively they are the same. But in that place I understand by the
former only that wisdom to which man (the Stoic) lays claim; therefore
I take it subjectively as an attribute alleged to belong to man.
(Perhaps the expression virtue, with which also the made great show,
would better mark the characteristic of his school.) The expression of
a postulate of pure practical reason might give most occasion to
misapprehension in case the reader confounded it with the
signification of the postulates in pure mathematics, which carry
apodeictic certainty with them. These, however, postulate the
possibility of an action, the object of which has been previously
recognized a priori in theory as possible, and that with perfect
certainty. But the former postulates the possibility of an object
itself (God and the immortality of the soul) from apodeictic practical
laws, and therefore only for the purposes of a practical reason.
This certainty of the postulated possibility then is not at all
theoretic, and consequently not apodeictic; that is to say, it is
not a known necessity as regards the object, but a necessary
supposition as regards the subject, necessary for the obedience to its
objective but practical laws. It is, therefore, merely a necessary
hypothesis. I could find no better expression for this rational
necessity, which is subjective, but yet true and unconditional.

In this manner, then, the a priori principles of two faculties of
the mind, the faculty of cognition and that of desire, would be
found and determined as to the conditions, extent, and limits of their
use, and thus a sure foundation be paid for a scientific system of
philosophy, both theoretic and practical.

Nothing worse could happen to these labours than that anyone
should make the unexpected discovery that there neither is, nor can
be, any a priori knowledge at all. But there is no danger of this.
This would be the same thing as if one sought to prove by reason
that there is no reason. For we only say that we know something by
reason, when we are conscious that we could have known it, even if
it had not been given to us in experience; hence rational knowledge
and knowledge a priori are one and the same. It is a clear
contradiction to try to extract necessity from a principle of
experience (ex pumice aquam), and to try by this to give a judgement
true universality (without which there is no rational inference, not
even inference from analogy, which is at least a presumed universality
and objective necessity). To substitute subjective necessity, that is,
custom, for objective, which exists only in a priori judgements, is to
deny to reason the power of judging about the object, i.e., of knowing
it, and what belongs to it. It implies, for example, that we must
not say of something which often or always follows a certain
antecedent state that we can conclude from this to that (for this
would imply objective necessity and the notion of an a priori
connexion), but only that we may expect similar cases (just as animals
do), that is that we reject the notion of cause altogether as false
and a mere delusion. As to attempting to remedy this want of objective
and consequently universal validity by saying that we can see no
ground for attributing any other sort of knowledge to other rational
beings, if this reasoning were valid, our ignorance would do more
for the enlargement of our knowledge than all our meditation. For,
then, on this very ground that we have no knowledge of any other
rational beings besides man, we should have a right to suppose them to
be of the same nature as we know ourselves to be: that is, we should
really know them. I omit to mention that universal assent does not
prove the objective validity of a judgement (i.e., its validity as a
cognition), and although this universal assent should accidentally
happen, it could furnish no proof of agreement with the object; on the
contrary, it is the objective validity which alone constitutes the
basis of a necessary universal consent.

{PREFACE ^paragraph 30}

Hume would be quite satisfied with this system of universal
empiricism, for, as is well known, he desired nothing more than
that, instead of ascribing any objective meaning to the necessity in
the concept of cause, a merely subjective one should be assumed, viz.,
custom, in order to deny that reason could judge about God, freedom,
and immortality; and if once his principles were granted, he was
certainly well able to deduce his conclusions therefrom, with all
logical coherence. But even Hume did not make his empiricism so
universal as to include mathematics. He holds the principles of
mathematics to be analytical; and if his were correct, they would
certainly be apodeictic also: but we could not infer from this that
reason has the faculty of forming apodeictic judgements in
philosophy also- that is to say, those which are synthetical
judgements, like the judgement of causality. But if we adopt a
universal empiricism, then mathematics will be included.

Now if this science is in contradiction with a reason that admits
only empirical principles, as it inevitably is in the antinomy in
which mathematics prove the infinite divisibility of space, which
empiricism cannot admit; then the greatest possible evidence of
demonstration is in manifest contradiction with the alleged
conclusions from experience, and we are driven to ask, like
Cheselden's blind patient, "Which deceives me, sight or touch?" (for
empiricism is based on a necessity felt, rationalism on a necessity
seen). And thus universal empiricism reveals itself as absolute
scepticism. It is erroneous to attribute this in such an unqualified
sense to Hume, * since he left at least one certain touchstone (which
can only be found in a priori principles), although experience
consists not only of feelings, but also of judgements.

* Names that designate the followers of a sect have always been
accompanied with much injustice; just as if one said, "N is an
Idealist." For although he not only admits, but even insists, that our
ideas of external things have actual objects of external things
corresponding to them, yet he holds that the form of the intuition
does not depend on them but on the human mind.

{PREFACE ^paragraph 35}

However, as in this philosophical and critical age such empiricism
can scarcely be serious, and it is probably put forward only as an
intellectual exercise and for the purpose of putting in a clearer
light, by contrast, the necessity of rational a priori principles,
we can only be grateful to those who employ themselves in this
otherwise uninstructive labour.



Of the Idea of a Critique of Practical Reason.

The theoretical use of reason was concerned with objects of the
cognitive faculty only, and a critical examination of it with
reference to this use applied properly only to the pure faculty of
cognition; because this raised the suspicion, which was afterwards
confirmed, that it might easily pass beyond its limits, and be lost
among unattainable objects, or even contradictory notions. It is quite
different with the practical use of reason. In this, reason is
concerned with the grounds of determination of the will, which is a
faculty either to produce objects corresponding to ideas, or to
determine ourselves to the effecting of such objects (whether the
physical power is sufficient or not); that is, to determine our
causality. For here, reason can at least attain so far as to determine
the will, and has always objective reality in so far as it is the
volition only that is in question. The first question here then is
whether pure reason of itself alone suffices to determine the will, or
whether it can be a ground of determination only as dependent on
empirical conditions. Now, here there comes in a notion of causality
justified by the critique of the pure reason, although not capable
of being presented empirically, viz., that of freedom; and if we can
now discover means of proving that this property does in fact belong
to the human will (and so to the will of all rational beings), then it
will not only be shown that pure reason can be practical, but that
it alone, and not reason empirically limited, is indubitably
practical; consequently, we shall have to make a critical examination,
not of pure practical reason, but only of practical reason
generally. For when once pure reason is shown to exist, it needs no
critical examination. For reason itself contains the standard for
the critical examination of every use of it. The critique, then, of
practical reason generally is bound to prevent the empirically
conditioned reason from claiming exclusively to furnish the ground
of determination of the will. If it is proved that there is a
[practical] reason, its employment is alone immanent; the
empirically conditioned use, which claims supremacy, is on the
contrary transcendent and expresses itself in demands and precepts
which go quite beyond its sphere. This is just the opposite of what
might be said of pure reason in its speculative employment.

However, as it is still pure reason, the knowledge of which is
here the foundation of its practical employment, the general outline
of the classification of a critique of practical reason must be
arranged in accordance with that of the speculative. We must, then,
have the Elements and the Methodology of it; and in the former an
Analytic as the rule of truth, and a Dialectic as the exposition and
dissolution of the illusion in the judgements of practical reason. But
the order in the subdivision of the Analytic will be the reverse of
that in the critique of the pure speculative reason. For, in the
present case, we shall commence with the principles and proceed to the
concepts, and only then, if possible, to the senses; whereas in the
case of the speculative reason we began with the senses and had to end
with the principles. The reason of this lies again in this: that now
we have to do with a will, and have to consider reason, not in its
relation to objects, but to this will and its causality. We must,
then, begin with the principles of a causality not empirically
conditioned, after which the attempt can be made to establish our
notions of the determining grounds of such a will, of their
application to objects, and finally to the subject and its sense
faculty. We necessarily begin with the law of causality from
freedom, that is, with a pure practical principle, and this determines
the objects to which alone it can be applied.




BOOK I. The Analytic of Pure Practical Reason.

CHAPTER I. Of the Principles of Pure Practical Reason.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 5}


Practical principles are propositions which contain a general
determination of the will, having under it several practical rules.
They are subjective, or maxims, when the condition is regarded by
the subject as valid only for his own will, but are objective, or
practical laws, when the condition is recognized as objective, that
is, valid for the will of every rational being.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 10}


Supposing that pure reason contains in itself a practical motive,
that is, one adequate to determine the will, then there are
practical laws; otherwise all practical principles will be mere
maxims. In case the will of a rational being is pathologically
affected, there may occur a conflict of the maxims with the
practical laws recognized by itself. For example, one may make it
his maxim to let no injury pass unrevenged, and yet he may see that
this is not a practical law, but only his own maxim; that, on the
contrary, regarded as being in one and the same maxim a rule for the
will of every rational being, it must contradict itself. In natural
philosophy the principles of what happens, e.g., the principle of
equality of action and reaction in the communication of motion) are at
the same time laws of nature; for the use of reason there is
theoretical and determined by the nature of the object. In practical
philosophy, i.e., that which has to do only with the grounds of
determination of the will, the principles which a man makes for
himself are not laws by which one is inevitably bound; because
reason in practical matters has to do with the subject, namely, with
the faculty of desire, the special character of which may occasion
variety in the rule. The practical rule is always a product of reason,
because it prescribes action as a means to the effect. But in the case
of a being with whom reason does not of itself determine the will,
this rule is an imperative, i.e., a rule characterized by "shall,"
which expresses the objective necessitation of the action and
signifies that, if reason completely determined the will, the action
would inevitably take place according to this rule. Imperatives,
therefore, are objectively valid, and are quite distinct from
maxims, which are subjective principles. The former either determine
the conditions of the causality of the rational being as an
efficient cause, i.e., merely in reference to the effect and the means
of attaining it; or they determine the will only, whether it is
adequate to the effect or not. The former would be hypothetical
imperatives, and contain mere precepts of skill; the latter, on the
contrary, would be categorical, and would alone be practical laws.
Thus maxims are principles, but not imperatives. Imperatives
themselves, however, when they are conditional (i.e., do not determine
the will simply as will, but only in respect to a desired effect, that
is, when they are hypothetical imperatives), are practical precepts
but not laws. Laws must be sufficient to determine the will as will,
even before I ask whether I have power sufficient for a desired
effect, or the means necessary to produce it; hence they are
categorical: otherwise they are not laws at all, because the necessity
is wanting, which, if it is to be practical, must be independent of
conditions which are pathological and are therefore only
contingently connected with the will. Tell a man, for example, that he
must be industrious and thrifty in youth, in order that he may not
want in old age; this is a correct and important practical precept
of the will. But it is easy to see that in this case the will is
directed to something else which it is presupposed that it desires;
and as to this desire, we must leave it to the actor himself whether
he looks forward to other resources than those of his own acquisition,
or does not expect to be old, or thinks that in case of future
necessity he will be able to make shift with little. Reason, from
which alone can spring a rule involving necessity, does, indeed,
give necessity to this precept (else it would not be an imperative),
but this is a necessity dependent on subjective conditions, and cannot
be supposed in the same degree in all subjects. But that reason may
give laws it is necessary that it should only need to presuppose
itself, because rules are objectively and universally valid only
when they hold without any contingent subjective conditions, which
distinguish one rational being from another. Now tell a man that he
should never make a deceitful promise, this is a rule which only
concerns his will, whether the purposes he may have can be attained
thereby or not; it is the volition only which is to be determined a
priori by that rule. If now it is found that this rule is
practically right, then it is a law, because it is a categorical
imperative. Thus, practical laws refer to the will only, without
considering what is attained by its causality, and we may disregard
this latter (as belonging to the world of sense) in order to have them
quite pure.


{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 15}

All practical principles which presuppose an object (matter) of
the faculty of desire as the ground of determination of the will are
empirical and can furnish no practical laws.

By the matter of the faculty of desire I mean an object the
realization of which is desired. Now, if the desire for this object
precedes the practical rule and is the condition of our making it a
principle, then I say (in the first place) this principle is in that
case wholly empirical, for then what determines the choice is the idea
of an object and that relation of this idea to the subject by which
its faculty of desire is determined to its realization. Such a
relation to the subject is called the pleasure in the realization of
an object. This, then, must be presupposed as a condition of the
possibility of determination of the will. But it is impossible to know
a priori of any idea of an object whether it will be connected with
pleasure or pain, or be indifferent. In such cases, therefore, the
determining principle of the choice must be empirical and,
therefore, also the practical material principle which presupposes
it as a condition.

In the second place, since susceptibility to a pleasure or pain
can be known only empirically and cannot hold in the same degree for
all rational beings, a principle which is based on this subjective
condition may serve indeed as a maxim for the subject which
possesses this susceptibility, but not as a law even to him (because
it is wanting in objective necessity, which must be recognized a
priori); it follows, therefore, that such a principle can never
furnish a practical law.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 20}


All material practical principles as such are of one and the same
kind and come under the general principle of self-love or private

Pleasure arising from the idea of the idea of the existence of a
thing, in so far as it is to determine the desire of this thing, is
founded on the susceptibility of the subject, since it depends on
the presence of an object; hence it belongs to sense (feeling), and
not to understanding, which expresses a relation of the idea to an
object according to concepts, not to the subject according to
feelings. It is, then, practical only in so far as the faculty of
desire is determined by the sensation of agreeableness which the
subject expects from the actual existence of the object. Now, a
rational being's consciousness of the pleasantness of life
uninterruptedly accompanying his whole existence is happiness; and the
principle which makes this the supreme ground of determination of
the will is the principle of self-love. All material principles, then,
which place the determining ground of the will in the pleasure or pain
to be received from the existence of any object are all of the same
kind, inasmuch as they all belong to the principle of self-love or
private happiness.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 25}


All material practical rules place the determining principle of
the will in the lower desires; and if there were no purely formal laws
of the will adequate to determine it, then we could not admit any
higher desire at all.


{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 30}

It is surprising that men, otherwise acute, can think it possible to
distinguish between higher and lower desires, according as the ideas
which are connected with the feeling of pleasure have their origin
in the senses or in the understanding; for when we inquire what are
the determining grounds of desire, and place them in some expected
pleasantness, it is of no consequence whence the idea of this pleasing
object is derived, but only how much it pleases. Whether an idea has
its seat and source in the understanding or not, if it can only
determine the choice by presupposing a feeling of pleasure in the
subject, it follows that its capability of determining the choice
depends altogether on the nature of the inner sense, namely, that this
can be agreeably affected by it. However dissimilar ideas of objects
may be, though they be ideas of the understanding, or even of the
reason in contrast to ideas of sense, yet the feeling of pleasure,
by means of which they constitute the determining principle of the
will (the expected satisfaction which impels the activity to the
production of the object), is of one and the same kind, not only
inasmuch as it can only be known empirically, but also inasmuch as
it affects one and the same vital force which manifests itself in
the faculty of desire, and in this respect can only differ in degree
from every other ground of determination. Otherwise, how could we
compare in respect of magnitude two principles of determination, the
ideas of which depend upon different faculties, so as to prefer that
which affects the faculty of desire in the highest degree. The same
man may return unread an instructive book which he cannot again
obtain, in order not to miss a hunt; he may depart in the midst of a
fine speech, in order not to be late for dinner; he may leave a
rational conversation, such as he otherwise values highly, to take his
place at the gaming-table; he may even repulse a poor man whom he at
other times takes pleasure in benefiting, because he has only just
enough money in his pocket to pay for his admission to the theatre. If
the determination of his will rests on the feeling of the
agreeableness or disagreeableness that he expects from any cause, it
is all the same to him by what sort of ideas he will be affected.
The only thing that concerns him, in order to decide his choice, is,
how great, how long continued, how easily obtained, and how often
repeated, this agreeableness is. just as to the man who wants money to
spend, it is all the same whether the gold was dug out of the mountain
or washed out of the sand, provided it is everywhere accepted at the
same value; so the man who cares only for the enjoyment of life does
not ask whether the ideas are of the understanding or the senses,
but only how much and how great pleasure they will give for the
longest time. It is only those that would gladly deny to pure reason
the power of determining the will, without the presupposition of any
feeling, who could deviate so far from their own exposition as to
describe as quite heterogeneous what they have themselves previously
brought under one and the same principle. Thus, for example, it is
observed that we can find pleasure in the mere exercise of power, in
the consciousness of our strength of mind in overcoming obstacles
which are opposed to our designs, in the culture of our mental
talents, etc.; and we justly call these more refined pleasures and
enjoyments, because they are more in our power than others; they do
not wear out, but rather increase the capacity for further enjoyment
of them, and while they delight they at the same time cultivate. But
to say on this account that they determine the will in a different way
and not through sense, whereas the possibility of the pleasure
presupposes a feeling for it implanted in us, which is the first
condition of this satisfaction; this is just as when ignorant
persons that like to dabble in metaphysics imagine matter so subtle,
so supersubtle that they almost make themselves giddy with it, and
then think that in this way they have conceived it as a spiritual
and yet extended being. If with Epicurus we make virtue determine
the will only by means of the pleasure it promises, we cannot
afterwards blame him for holding that this pleasure is of the same
kind as those of the coarsest senses. For we have no reason whatever
to charge him with holding that the ideas by which this feeling is
excited in us belong merely to the bodily senses. As far as can be
conjectured, he sought the source of many of them in the use of the
higher cognitive faculty, but this did not prevent him, and could
not prevent him, from holding on the principle above stated, that
the pleasure itself which those intellectual ideas give us, and by
which alone they can determine the will, is just of the same kind.
Consistency is the highest obligation of a philosopher, and yet the
most rarely found. The ancient Greek schools give us more examples
of it than we find in our syncretistic age, in which a certain shallow
and dishonest system of compromise of contradictory principles is
devised, because it commends itself better to a public which is
content to know something of everything and nothing thoroughly, so
as to please every party.

The principle of private happiness, however much understanding and
reason may be used in it, cannot contain any other determining
principles for the will than those which belong to the lower
desires; and either there are no [higher] desires at all, or pure
reason must of itself alone be practical; that is, it must be able
to determine the will by the mere form of the practical rule without
supposing any feeling, and consequently without any idea of the
pleasant or unpleasant, which is the matter of the desire, and which
is always an empirical condition of the principles. Then only, when
reason of itself determines the will (not as the servant of the
inclination), it is really a higher desire to which that which is
pathologically determined is subordinate, and is really, and even
specifically, distinct from the latter, so that even the slightest
admixture of the motives of the latter impairs its strength and
superiority; just as in a mathematical demonstration the least
empirical condition would degrade and destroy its force and value.
Reason, with its practical law, determines the will immediately, not
by means of an intervening feeling of pleasure or pain, not even of
pleasure in the law itself, and it is only because it can, as pure
reason, be practical, that it is possible for it to be legislative.


{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 35}

To be happy is necessarily the wish of every finite rational
being, and this, therefore, is inevitably a determining principle of
its faculty of desire. For we are not in possession originally of
satisfaction with our whole existence- a bliss which would imply a
consciousness of our own independent self-sufficiency this is a
problem imposed upon us by our own finite nature, because we have
wants and these wants regard the matter of our desires, that is,
something that is relative to a subjective feeling of pleasure or
pain, which determines what we need in order to be satisfied with
our condition. But just because this material principle of
determination can only be empirically known by the subject, it is
impossible to regard this problem as a law; for a law being
objective must contain the very same principle of determination of the
will in all cases and for all rational beings. For, although the
notion of happiness is in every case the foundation of practical
relation of the objects to the desires, yet it is only a general
name for the subjective determining principles, and determines nothing
specifically; whereas this is what alone we are concerned with in this
practical problem, which cannot be solved at all without such specific
determination. For it is every man's own special feeling of pleasure
and pain that decides in what he is to place his happiness, and even
in the same subject this will vary with the difference of his wants
according as this feeling changes, and thus a law which is
subjectively necessary (as a law of nature) is objectively a very
contingent practical principle, which can and must be very different
in different subjects and therefore can never furnish a law; since, in
the desire for happiness it is not the form (of conformity to law)
that is decisive, but simply the matter, namely, whether I am to
expect pleasure in following the law, and how much. Principles of
self-love may, indeed, contain universal precepts of skill (how to
find means to accomplish one's purpose), but in that case they are
merely theoretical principles; * as, for example, how he who would
like to eat bread should contrive a mill; but practical precepts
founded on them can never be universal, for the determining principle
of the desire is based on the feeling pleasure and pain, which can
never be supposed to be universally directed to the same objects.

* Propositions which in mathematics or physics are called practical
ought properly to be called technical. For they have nothing to do
with the determination of the will; they only point out how a certain
effect is to be produced and are, therefore, just as theoretical as
any propositions which express the connection of a cause with an
effect. Now whoever chooses the effect must also choose the cause.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 40}

Even supposing, however, that all finite rational beings were
thoroughly agreed as to what were the objects of their feelings of
pleasure and pain, and also as to the means which they must employ
to attain the one and avoid the other; still, they could by no means
set up the principle of self-love as a practical law, for this
unanimity itself would be only contingent. The principle of
determination would still be only subjectively valid and merely
empirical, and would not possess the necessity which is conceived in
every law, namely, an objective necessity arising from a priori
grounds; unless, indeed, we hold this necessity to be not at all
practical, but merely physical, viz., that our action is as inevitably
determined by our inclination, as yawning when we see others yawn.
It would be better to maintain that there are no practical laws at
all, but only counsels for the service of our desires, than to raise
merely subjective principles to the rank of practical laws, which have
objective necessity, and not merely subjective, and which must be
known by reason a priori, not by experience (however empirically
universal this may be). Even the rules of corresponding phenomena
are only called laws of nature (e.g., the mechanical laws), when we
either know them really a priori, or (as in the case of chemical laws)
suppose that they would be known a priori from objective grounds if
our insight reached further. But in the case of merely subjective
practical principles, it is expressly made a condition that they rest,
not on objective, but on subjective conditions of choice, and hence
that they must always be represented as mere maxims, never as
practical laws. This second remark seems at first sight to be mere
verbal refinement, but it defines the terms of the most important
distinction which can come into consideration in practical


A rational being cannot regard his maxims as practical universal
laws, unless he conceives them as principles which determine the will,
not by their matter, but by their form only.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 45}

By the matter of a practical principle I mean the object of the
will. This object is either the determining ground of the will or it
is not. In the former case the rule of the will is subjected to an
empirical condition (viz., the relation of the determining idea to the
feeling of pleasure and pain), consequently it can not be a
practical law. Now, when we abstract from a law all matter, i.e.,
every object of the will (as a determining principle), nothing is left
but the mere form of a universal legislation. Therefore, either a
rational being cannot conceive his subjective practical principles,
that is, his maxims, as being at the same time universal laws, or he
must suppose that their mere form, by which they are fitted for
universal legislation, is alone what makes them practical laws.


The commonest understanding can distinguish without instruction what
form of maxim is adapted for universal legislation, and what is not.
Suppose, for example, that I have made it my maxim to increase my
fortune by every safe means. Now, I have a deposit in my hands, the
owner of which is dead and has left no writing about it. This is
just the case for my maxim. I desire then to know whether that maxim
can also bold good as a universal practical law. I apply it,
therefore, to the present case, and ask whether it could take the form
of a law, and consequently whether I can by my maxim at the same
time give such a law as this, that everyone may deny a deposit of
which no one can produce a proof. I at once become aware that such a
principle, viewed as a law, would annihilate itself, because the
result would be that there would be no deposits. A practical law which
I recognise as such must be qualified for universal legislation;
this is an identical proposition and, therefore, self-evident. Now, if
I say that my will is subject to a practical law, I cannot adduce my
inclination (e.g., in the present case my avarice) as a principle of
determination fitted to be a universal practical law; for this is so
far from being fitted for a universal legislation that, if put in
the form of a universal law, it would destroy itself.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 50}

It is, therefore, surprising that intelligent men could have thought
of calling the desire of happiness a universal practical law on the
ground that the desire is universal, and, therefore, also the maxim by
which everyone makes this desire determine his will. For whereas in
other cases a universal law of nature makes everything harmonious;
here, on the contrary, if we attribute to the maxim the universality
of a law, the extreme opposite of harmony will follow, the greatest
opposition and the complete destruction of the maxim itself and its
purpose. For, in that case, the will of all has not one and the same
object, but everyone has his own (his private welfare), which may
accidentally accord with the purposes of others which are equally
selfish, but it is far from sufficing for a law; because the
occasional exceptions which one is permitted to make are endless,
and cannot be definitely embraced in one universal rule. In this
manner, then, results a harmony like that which a certain satirical
poem depicts as existing between a married couple bent on going to
ruin, "O, marvellous harmony, what he wishes, she wishes also"; or
like what is said of the pledge of Francis I to the Emperor Charles V,
"What my brother Charles wishes that I wish also" (viz., Milan).
Empirical principles of determination are not fit for any universal
external legislation, but just as little for internal; for each man
makes his own subject the foundation of his inclination, and in the
same subject sometimes one inclination, sometimes another, has the
preponderance. To discover a law which would govern them all under
this condition, namely, bringing them all into harmony, is quite


Supposing that the mere legislative form of maxims is alone the
sufficient determining principle of a will, to find the nature of
the will which can be determined by it alone.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 55}

Since the bare form of the law can only be conceived by reason, and
is, therefore, not an object of the senses, and consequently does
not belong to the class of phenomena, it follows that the idea of
it, which determines the will, is distinct from all the principles
that determine events in nature according to the law of causality,
because in their case the determining principles must themselves be
phenomena. Now, if no other determining principle can serve as a law
for the will except that universal legislative form, such a will
must be conceived as quite independent of the natural law of phenomena
in their mutual relation, namely, the law of causality; such
independence is called freedom in the strictest, that is, in the
transcendental, sense; consequently, a will which can have its law
in nothing but the mere legislative form of the maxim is a free will.


Supposing that a will is free, to find the law which alone is
competent to determine it necessarily.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 60}

Since the matter of the practical law, i.e., an object of the maxim,
can never be given otherwise than empirically, and the free will is
independent on empirical conditions (that is, conditions belonging
to the world of sense) and yet is determinable, consequently a free
will must find its principle of determination in the law, and yet
independently of the matter of the law. But, besides the matter of the
law, nothing is contained in it except the legislative form. It is the
legislative form, then, contained in the maxim, which can alone
constitute a principle of determination of the [free] will.


Thus freedom and an unconditional practical law reciprocally imply
each other. Now I do not ask here whether they are in fact distinct,
or whether an unconditioned law is not rather merely the consciousness
of a pure practical reason and the latter identical with the
positive concept of freedom; I only ask, whence begins our knowledge
of the unconditionally practical, whether it is from freedom or from
the practical law? Now it cannot begin from freedom, for of this we
cannot be immediately conscious, since the first concept of it is
negative; nor can we infer it from experience, for experience gives us
the knowledge only of the law of phenomena, and hence of the mechanism
of nature, the direct opposite of freedom. It is therefore the moral
law, of which we become directly conscious (as soon as we trace for
ourselves maxims of the will), that first presents itself to us, and
leads directly to the concept of freedom, inasmuch as reason
presents it as a principle of determination not to be outweighed by
any sensible conditions, nay, wholly independent of them. But how is
the consciousness, of that moral law possible? We can become conscious
of pure practical laws just as we are conscious of pure theoretical
principles, by attending to the necessity with which reason prescribes
them and to the elimination of all empirical conditions, which it
directs. The concept of a pure will arises out of the former, as
that of a pure understanding arises out of the latter. That this is
the true subordination of our concepts, and that it is morality that
first discovers to us the notion of freedom, hence that it is
practical reason which, with this concept, first proposes to
speculative reason the most insoluble problem, thereby placing it in
the greatest perplexity, is evident from the following
consideration: Since nothing in phenomena can be explained by the
concept of freedom, but the mechanism of nature must constitute the
only clue; moreover, when pure reason tries to ascend in the series of
causes to the unconditioned, it falls into an antinomy which is
entangled in incomprehensibilities on the one side as much as the
other; whilst the latter (namely, mechanism) is at least useful in the
explanation of phenomena, therefore no one would ever have been so
rash as to introduce freedom into science, had not the moral law,
and with it practical reason, come in and forced this notion upon
us. Experience, however, confirms this order of notions. Suppose
some one asserts of his lustful appetite that, when the desired object
and the opportunity are present, it is quite irresistible. [Ask
him]- if a gallows were erected before the house where he finds this
opportunity, in order that he should be hanged thereon immediately
after the gratification of his lust, whether he could not then control
his passion; we need not be long in doubt what he would reply. Ask
him, however- if his sovereign ordered him, on pain of the same
immediate execution, to bear false witness against an honourable
man, whom the prince might wish to destroy under a plausible
pretext, would he consider it possible in that case to overcome his
love of life, however great it may be. He would perhaps not venture to
affirm whether he would do so or not, but he must unhesitatingly admit
that it is possible to do so. He judges, therefore, that he can do a
certain thing because he is conscious that he ought, and he recognizes
that he is free- a fact which but for the moral law he would never
have known.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 65}


Act so that the maxim of thy will can always at the same time hold
good as a principle of universal legislation.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 70}


Pure geometry has postulates which are practical propositions, but
contain nothing further than the assumption that we can do something
if it is required that we should do it, and these are the only
geometrical propositions that concern actual existence. They are,
then, practical rules under a problematical condition of the will; but
here the rule says: We absolutely must proceed in a certain manner.
The practical rule is, therefore, unconditional, and hence it is
conceived a priori as a categorically practical proposition by which
the will is objectively determined absolutely and immediately (by
the practical rule itself, which thus is in this case a law); for pure
reason practical of itself is here directly legislative. The will is
thought as independent on empirical conditions, and, therefore, as
pure will determined by the mere form of the law, and this principle
of determination is regarded as the supreme condition of all maxims.
The thing is strange enough, and has no parallel in all the rest of
our practical knowledge. For the a priori thought of a possible
universal legislation which is therefore merely problematical, is
unconditionally commanded as a law without borrowing anything from
experience or from any external will. This, however, is not a
precept to do something by which some desired effect can be attained
(for then the will would depend on physical conditions), but a rule
that determines the will a priori only so far as regards the forms
of its maxims; and thus it is at least not impossible to conceive that
a law, which only applies to the subjective form of principles, yet
serves as a principle of determination by means of the objective
form of law in general. We may call the consciousness of this
fundamental law a fact of reason, because we cannot reason it out from
antecedent data of reason, e.g., the consciousness of freedom (for
this is not antecedently given), but it forces itself on us as a
synthetic a priori proposition, which is not based on any intuition,
either pure or empirical. It would, indeed, be analytical if the
freedom of the will were presupposed, but to presuppose freedom as a
positive concept would require an intellectual intuition, which cannot
here be assumed; however, when we regard this law as given, it must be
observed, in order not to fall into any misconception, that it is
not an empirical fact, but the sole fact of the pure reason, which
thereby announces itself as originally legislative (sic volo, sic


{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 75}

Pure reason is practical of itself alone and gives (to man) a
universal law which we call the moral law.


{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 80}

The fact just mentioned is undeniable. It is only necessary to
analyse the judgement that men pass on the lawfulness of their
actions, in order to find that, whatever inclination may say to the
contrary, reason, incorruptible and selfconstrained, always
confronts the maxim of the will in any action with the pure will, that
is, with itself, considering itself as a priori practical. Now this
principle of morality, just on account of the universality of the
legislation which makes it the formal supreme determining principle of
the will, without regard to any subjective differentes, is declared by
the reason to be a law for all rational beings, in so far as they have
a will, that is, a power to determine their causality by the
conception of rules; and, therefore, so far as they are capable of
acting according to principles, and consequently also according to
practical a priori principles (for these alone have the necessity that
reason requires in a principle). It is, therefore, not limited to
men only, but applies to all finite beings that possess reason and
will; nay, it even includes the Infinite Being as the supreme
intelligence. In the former case, however, the law has the form of
an imperative, because in them, as rational beings, we can suppose a
pure will, but being creatures affected with wants and physical
motives, not a holy will, that is, one which would be incapable of any
maxim conflicting with the moral law. In their case, therefore, the
moral law is an imperative, which commands categorically, because
the law is unconditioned; the relation of such a will to this law is
dependence under the name of obligation, which implies a constraint to
an action, though only by reason and its objective law; and this
action is called duty, because an elective will, subject to
pathological affections (though not determined by them, and,
therefore, still free), implies a wish that arises from subjective
causes and, therefore, may often be opposed to the pure objective
determining principle; whence it requires the moral constraint of a
resistance of the practical reason, which may be called an internal,
but intellectual, compulsion. In the supreme intelligence the elective
will is rightly conceived as incapable of any maxim which could not at
the same time be objectively a law; and the notion of holiness,
which on that account belongs to it, places it, not indeed above all
practical laws, but above all practically restrictive laws, and
consequently above obligation and duty. This holiness of will is,
however, a practical idea, which must necessarily serve as a type to
which finite rational beings can only approximate indefinitely, and
which the pure moral law, which is itself on this account called holy,
constantly and rightly holds before their eyes. The utmost that finite
practical reason can effect is to be certain of this indefinite
progress of one's maxims and of their steady disposition to advance.
This is virtue, and virtue, at least as a naturally acquired
faculty, can never be perfect, because assurance in such a case
never becomes apodeictic certainty and, when it only amounts to
persuasion, is very dangerous.


The autonomy of the will is the sole principle of all moral laws and
of all duties which conform to them; on the other hand, heteronomy
of the elective will not only cannot be the basis of any obligation,
but is, on the contrary, opposed to the principle thereof and to the
morality of the will.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 85}

In fact the sole principle of morality consists in the
independence on all matter of the law (namely, a desired object),
and in the determination of the elective will by the mere universal
legislative form of which its maxim must be capable. Now this
independence is freedom in the negative sense, and this
self-legislation of the pure, and therefore practical, reason is
freedom in the positive sense. Thus the moral law expresses nothing
else than the autonomy of the pure practical reason; that is, freedom;
and this is itself the formal condition of all maxims, and on this
condition only can they agree with the supreme practical law. If
therefore the matter of the volition, which can be nothing else than
the object of a desire that is connected with the law, enters into the
practical law, as the condition of its possibility, there results
heteronomy of the elective will, namely, dependence on the physical
law that we should follow some impulse or inclination. In that case
the will does not give itself the law, but only the precept how
rationally to follow pathological law; and the maxim which, in such
a case, never contains the universally legislative form, not only
produces no obligation, but is itself opposed to the principle of a
pure practical reason and, therefore, also to the moral disposition,
even though the resulting action may be conformable to the law.


Hence a practical precept, which contains a material (and
therefore empirical) condition, must never be reckoned a practical
law. For the law of the pure will, which is free, brings the will into
a sphere quite different from the empirical; and as the necessity
involved in the law is not a physical necessity, it can only consist
in the formal conditions of the possibility of a law in general. All
the matter of practical rules rests on subjective conditions, which
give them only a conditional universality (in case I desire this or
that, what I must do in order to obtain it), and they all turn on
the principle of private happiness. Now, it is indeed undeniable
that every volition must have an object, and therefore a matter; but
it does not follow that this is the determining principle and the
condition of the maxim; for, if it is so, then this cannot be
exhibited in a universally legislative form, since in that case the
expectation of the existence of the object would be the determining
cause of the choice, and the volition must presuppose the dependence
of the faculty of desire on the existence of something; but this
dependence can only be sought in empirical conditions and,
therefore, can never furnish a foundation for a necessary and
universal rule. Thus, the happiness of others may be the object of the
will of a rational being. But if it were the determining principle
of the maxim, we must assume that we find not only a rational
satisfaction in the welfare of others, but also a want such as the
sympathetic disposition in some men occasions. But I cannot assume the
existence of this want in every rational being (not at all in God).
The matter, then, of the maxim may remain, but it must not be the
condition of it, else the maxim could not be fit for a law. Hence, the
mere form of law, which limits the matter, must also be a reason for
adding this matter to the will, not for presupposing it. For
example, let the matter be my own happiness. This (rule), if I
attribute it to everyone (as, in fact, I may, in the case of every
finite being), can become an objective practical law only if I include
the happiness of others. Therefore, the law that we should promote the
happiness of others does not arise from the assumption that this is an
object of everyone's choice, but merely from this, that the form of
universality which reason requires as the condition of giving to a
maxim of self-love the objective validity of a law is the principle
that determines the will. Therefore it was not the object (the
happiness of others) that determined the pure will, but it was the
form of law only, by which I restricted my maxim, founded on
inclination, so as to give it the universality of a law, and thus to
adapt it to the practical reason; and it is this restriction alone,
and not the addition of an external spring, that can give rise to
the notion of the obligation to extend the maxim of my self-love to
the happiness of others.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 90}


The direct opposite of the principle of morality is, when the
principle of private happiness is made the determining principle of
the will, and with this is to be reckoned, as I have shown above,
everything that places the determining principle which is to serve
as a law, anywhere but in the legislative form of the maxim. This
contradiction, however, is not merely logical, like that which would
arise between rules empirically conditioned, if they were raised to
the rank of necessary principles of cognition, but is practical, and
would ruin morality altogether were not the voice of reason in
reference to the will so clear, so irrepressible, so distinctly
audible, even to the commonest men. It can only, indeed, be maintained
in the perplexing speculations of the schools, which are bold enough
to shut their ears against that heavenly voice, in order to support
a theory that costs no trouble.

Suppose that an acquaintance whom you otherwise liked were to
attempt to justify himself to you for having borne false witness,
first by alleging the, in his view, sacred duty of consulting his
own happiness; then by enumerating the advantages which he had
gained thereby, pointing out the prudence he had shown in securing
himself against detection, even by yourself, to whom he now reveals
the secret, only in order that he may be able to deny it at any
time; and suppose he were then to affirm, in all seriousness, that
he has fulfilled a true human duty; you would either laugh in his
face, or shrink back from him with disgust; and yet, if a man has
regulated his principles of action solely with a view to his own
advantage, you would have nothing whatever to object against this mode
of proceeding. Or suppose some one recommends you a man as steward, as
a man to whom you can blindly trust all your affairs; and, in order to
inspire you with confidence, extols him as a prudent man who
thoroughly understands his own interest, and is so indefatigably
active that he lets slip no opportunity of advancing it; lastly,
lest you should be afraid of finding a vulgar selfishness in him,
praises the good taste with which he lives; not seeking his pleasure
in money-making, or in coarse wantonness, but in the enlargement of
his knowledge, in instructive intercourse with a select circle, and
even in relieving the needy; while as to the means (which, of
course, derive all their value from the end), he is not particular,
and is ready to use other people's money for the purpose as if it were
his own, provided only he knows that he can do so safely, and
without discovery; you would either believe that the recommender was
mocking you, or that he had lost his senses. So sharply and clearly
marked are the boundaries of morality and self-love that even the
commonest eye cannot fail to distinguish whether a thing belongs to
the one or the other. The few remarks that follow may appear
superfluous where the truth is so plain, but at least they may serve
to give a little more distinctness to the judgement of common sense.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 95}

The principle of happiness may, indeed, furnish maxims, but never
such as would be competent to be laws of the will, even if universal
happiness were made the object. For since the knowledge of this
rests on mere empirical data, since every man's judgement on it
depends very much on his particular point of view, which is itself
moreover very variable, it can supply only general rules, not
universal; that is, it can give rules which on the average will most
frequently fit, but not rules which must hold good always and
necessarily; hence, no practical laws can be founded on it. Just
because in this case an object of choice is the foundation of the rule
and must therefore precede it, the rule can refer to nothing but
what is [felt], and therefore it refers to experience and is founded
on it, and then the variety of judgement must be endless. This
principle, therefore, does not prescribe the same practical rules to
all rational beings, although the rules are all included under a
common title, namely, that of happiness. The moral law, however, is
conceived as objectively necessary, only because it holds for everyone
that has reason and will.

The maxim of self-love (prudence) only advises; the law of
morality commands. Now there is a great difference between that
which we are advised to do and that to which we are obliged.

The commonest intelligence can easily and without hesitation see
what, on the principle of autonomy of the will, requires to be done;
but on supposition of heteronomy of the will, it is hard and
requires knowledge of the world to see what is to be done. That is
to say, what duty is, is plain of itself to everyone; but what is to
bring true durable advantage, such as will extend to the whole of
one's existence, is always veiled in impenetrable obscurity; and
much prudence is required to adapt the practical rule founded on it to
the ends of life, even tolerably, by making proper exceptions. But the
moral law commands the most punctual obedience from everyone; it must,
therefore, not be so difficult to judge what it requires to be done,
that the commonest unpractised understanding, even without worldly
prudence, should fail to apply it rightly.

It is always in everyone's power to satisfy the categorical
command of morality; whereas it is seldom possible, and by no means so
to everyone, to satisfy the empirically conditioned precept of
happiness, even with regard to a single purpose. The reason is that in
the former case there is question only of the maxim, which must be
genuine and pure; but in the latter case there is question also of
one's capacity and physical power to realize a desired object. A
command that everyone should try to make himself happy would be
foolish, for one never commands anyone to do what he of himself
infallibly wishes to do. We must only command the means, or rather
supply them, since he cannot do everything that he wishes. But to
command morality under the name of duty is quite rational; for, in the
first place, not everyone is willing to obey its precepts if they
oppose his inclinations; and as to the means of obeying this law,
these need not in this case be taught, for in this respect whatever he
wishes to do be can do.

He who has lost at play may be vexed at himself and his folly, but
if he is conscious of having cheated at play (although he has gained
thereby), he must despise himself as soon as he compares himself
with the moral law. This must, therefore, be something different
from the principle of private happiness. For a man must have a
different criterion when he is compelled to say to himself: "I am a
worthless fellow, though I have filled my purse"; and when he approves
himself, and says: "I am a prudent man, for I have enriched my

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 100}

Finally, there is something further in the idea of our practical
reason, which accompanies the transgression of a moral law- namely,
its ill desert. Now the notion of punishment, as such, cannot be
united with that of becoming a partaker of happiness; for although
he who inflicts the punishment may at the same time have the
benevolent purpose of directing this punishment to this end, yet it
must first be justified in itself as punishment, i.e., as mere harm,
so that if it stopped there, and the person punished could get no
glimpse of kindness hidden behind this harshness, he must yet admit
that justice was done him, and that his reward was perfectly
suitable to his conduct. In every punishment, as such, there must
first be justice, and this constitutes the essence of the notion.
Benevolence may, indeed, be united with it, but the man who has
deserved punishment has not the least reason to reckon upon this.
Punishment, then, is a physical evil, which, though it be not
connected with moral evil as a natural consequence, ought to be
connected with it as a consequence by the principles of a moral
legislation. Now, if every crime, even without regarding the
physical consequence with respect to the actor, is in itself
punishable, that is, forfeits happiness (at least partially), it is
obviously absurd to say that the crime consisted just in this, that be
has drawn punishment on himself, thereby injuring his private
happiness (which, on the principle of self-love, must be the proper
notion of all crime). According to this view, the punishment would
be the reason for calling anything a crime, and justice would, on
the contrary, consist in omitting all punishment, and even
preventing that which naturally follows; for, if this were done, there
would no longer be any evil in the action, since the harm which
otherwise followed it, and on account of which alone the action was
called evil, would now be prevented. To look, however, on all
rewards and punishments as merely the machinery in the hand of a
higher power, which is to serve only to set rational creatures
striving after their final end (happiness), this is to reduce the will
to a mechanism destructive of freedom; this is so evident that it need
not detain us.

More refined, though equally false, is the theory of those who
suppose a certain special moral sense, which sense and not reason
determines the moral law, and in consequence of which the
consciousness of virtue is supposed to be directly connected with
contentment and pleasure; that of vice, with mental dissatisfaction
and pain; thus reducing the whole to the desire of private
happiness. Without repeating what has been said above, I will here
only remark the fallacy they fall into. In order to imagine the
vicious man as tormented with mental dissatisfaction by the
consciousness of his transgressions, they must first represent him
as in the main basis of his character, at least in some degree,
morally good; just as he who is pleased with the consciousness of
right conduct must be conceived as already virtuous. The notion of
morality and duty must, therefore, have preceded any regard to this
satisfaction, and cannot be derived from it. A man must first
appreciate the importance of what we call duty, the authority of the
moral law, and the immediate dignity which the following of it gives
to the person in his own eyes, in order to feel that satisfaction in
the consciousness of his conformity to it and the bitter remorse
that accompanies the consciousness of its transgression. It is,
therefore, impossible to feel this satisfaction or dissatisfaction
prior to the knowledge of obligation, or to make it the basis of the
latter. A man must be at least half honest in order even to be able to
form a conception of these feelings. I do not deny that as the human
will is, by virtue of liberty, capable of being immediately determined
by the moral law, so frequent practice in accordance with this
principle of determination can, at least, produce subjectively a
feeling of satisfaction; on the contrary, it is a duty to establish
and to cultivate this, which alone deserves to be called properly
the moral feeling; but the notion of duty cannot be derived from it,
else we should have to suppose a feeling for the law as such, and thus
make that an object of sensation which can only be thought by the
reason; and this, if it is not to be a flat contradiction, would
destroy all notion of duty and put in its place a mere mechanical play
of refined inclinations sometimes contending with the coarser.

If now we compare our formal supreme principle of pure practical
reason (that of autonomy of the will) with all previous material
principles of morality, we can exhibit them all in a table in which
all possible cases are exhausted, except the one formal principle; and
thus we can show visibly that it is vain to look for any other
principle than that now proposed. In fact all possible principles of
determination of the will are either merely subjective, and
therefore empirical, or are also objective and rational; and both
are either external or internal.

Practical Material Principles of Determination taken as the
Foundation of Morality, are:

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 105}



Education Physical feeling

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 110}

(Montaigne) (Epicurus)

The civil Moral feeling

Constitution (Hutcheson)


{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 115}



Perfection Will of God

(Wolf and the (Crusius and other

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 120}

Stoics) theological Moralists)

Those of the upper table are all empirical and evidently incapable
of furnishing the universal principle of morality; but those in the
lower table are based on reason (for perfection as a quality of
things, and the highest perfection conceived as substance, that is,
God, can only be thought by means of rational concepts). But the
former notion, namely, that of perfection, may either be taken in a
theoretic signification, and then it means nothing but the
completeness of each thing in its own kind (transcendental), or that
of a thing merely as a thing (metaphysical); and with that we are
not concerned here. But the notion of perfection in a practical
sense is the fitness or sufficiency of a thing for all sorts of
purposes. This perfection, as a quality of man and consequently
internal, is nothing but talent and, what strengthens or completes
this, skill. Supreme perfection conceived as substance, that is God,
and consequently external (considered practically), is the sufficiency
of this being for all ends. Ends then must first be given,
relatively to which only can the notion of perfection (whether
internal in ourselves or external in God) be the determining principle
of the will. But an end- being an object which must precede the
determination of the will by a practical rule and contain the ground
of the possibility of this determination, and therefore contain also
the matter of the will, taken as its determining principle- such an
end is always empirical and, therefore, may serve for the Epicurean
principle of the happiness theory, but not for the pure rational
principle of morality and duty. Thus, talents and the improvement of
them, because they contribute to the advantages of life; or the will
of God, if agreement with it be taken as the object of the will,
without any antecedent independent practical principle, can be motives
only by reason of the happiness expected therefrom. Hence it
follows, first, that all the principles here stated are material;
secondly, that they include all possible material principles; and,
finally, the conclusion, that since material principles are quite
incapable of furnishing the supreme moral law (as has been shown), the
formal practical principle the pure reason (according to which the
mere form of a universal legislation must constitute the supreme and
immediate determining principle of the will) is the only one
possible which is adequate to furnish categorical imperatives, that
is, practical laws (which make actions a duty), and in general to
serve as the principle of morality, both in criticizing conduct and
also in its application to the human will to determine it.

I. Of the Deduction of the Fundamental Principles of Pure
Practical Reason.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 125}

This Analytic shows that pure reason can be practical, that is,
can of itself determine the will independently of anything
empirical; and this it proves by a fact in which pure reason in us
proves itself actually practical, namely, the autonomy shown in the
fundamental principle of morality, by which reason determines the will
to action.

It shows at the same time that this fact is inseparably connected
with the consciousness of freedom of the will, nay, is identical
with it; and by this the will of a rational being, although as
belonging to the world of sense it recognizes itself as necessarily
subject to the laws of causality like other efficient causes; yet,
at the same time, on another side, namely, as a being in itself, is
conscious of existing in and being determined by an intelligible order
of things; conscious not by virtue of a special intuition of itself,
but by virtue of certain dynamical laws which determine its
causality in the sensible world; for it has been elsewhere proved that
if freedom is predicated of us, it transports us into an
intelligible order of things.

Now, if we compare with this the analytical part of the critique
of pure speculative reason, we shall see a remarkable contrast.
There it was not fundamental principles, but pure, sensible
intuition (space and time), that was the first datum that made a
priori knowledge possible, though only of objects of the senses.
Synthetical principles could not be derived from mere concepts without
intuition; on the contrary, they could only exist with reference to
this intuition, and therefore to objects of possible experience, since
it is the concepts of the understanding, united with this intuition,
which alone make that knowledge possible which we call experience.
Beyond objects of experience, and therefore with regard to things as
noumena, all positive knowledge was rightly disclaimed for speculative
reason. This reason, however, went so far as to establish with
certainty the concept of noumena; that is, the possibility, nay, the
necessity, of thinking them; for example, it showed against all
objections that the supposition of freedom, negatively considered, was
quite consistent with those principles and limitations of pure
theoretic reason. But it could not give us any definite enlargement of
our knowledge with respect to such objects, but, on the contrary,
cut off all view of them altogether.

On the other hand, the moral law, although it gives no view, yet
gives us a fact absolutely inexplicable from any data of the
sensible world, and the whole compass of our theoretical use of
reason, a fact which points to a pure world of the understanding, nay,
even defines it positively and enables us to know something of it,
namely, a law.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 130}

This law (as far as rational beings are concerned) gives to the
world of sense, which is a sensible system of nature, the form of a
world of the understanding, that is, of a supersensible system of
nature, without interfering with its mechanism. Now, a system of
nature, in the most general sense, is the existence of things under
laws. The sensible nature of rational beings in general is their
existence under laws empirically conditioned, which, from the point of
view of reason, is heteronomy. The supersensible nature of the same
beings, on the other hand, is their existence according to laws
which are independent of every empirical condition and, therefore,
belong to the autonomy of pure reason. And, since the laws by which
the existence of things depends on cognition are practical,
supersensible nature, so far as we can form any notion of it, is
nothing else than a system of nature under the autonomy of pure
practical reason. Now, the law of this autonomy is the moral law,
which, therefore, is the fundamental law of a supersensible nature,
and of a pure world of understanding, whose counterpart must exist
in the world of sense, but without interfering with its laws. We might
call the former the archetypal world (natura archetypa), which we only
know in the reason; and the latter the ectypal world (natura
ectypa), because it contains the possible effect of the idea of the
former which is the determining principle of the will. For the moral
law, in fact, transfers us ideally into a system in which pure reason,
if it were accompanied with adequate physical power, would produce the
summum bonum, and it determines our will to give the sensible world
the form of a system of rational beings.

The least attention to oneself proves that this idea really serves
as the model for the determinations of our will.

When the maxim which I am disposed to follow in giving testimony
is tested by the practical reason, I always consider what it would
be if it were to hold as a universal law of nature. It is manifest
that in this view it would oblige everyone to speak the truth. For
it cannot hold as a universal law of nature that statements should
be allowed to have the force of proof and yet to be purposely
untrue. Similarly, the maxim which I adopt with respect to disposing
freely of my life is at once determined, when I ask myself what it
should be, in order that a system, of which it is the law, should
maintain itself. It is obvious that in such a system no one could
arbitrarily put an end to his own life, for such an arrangement
would not be a permanent order of things. And so in all similar cases.
Now, in nature, as it actually is an object of experience, the free
will is not of itself determined to maxims which could of themselves
be the foundation of a natural system of universal laws, or which
could even be adapted to a system so constituted; on the contrary, its
maxims are private inclinations which constitute, indeed, a natural
whole in conformity with pathological (physical) laws, but could not
form part of a system of nature, which would only be possible
through our will acting in accordance with pure practical laws. Yet we
are, through reason, conscious of a law to which all our maxims are
subject, as though a natural order must be originated from our will.
This law, therefore, must be the idea of a natural system not given in
experience, and yet possible through freedom; a system, therefore,
which is supersensible, and to which we give objective reality, at
least in a practical point of view, since we look on it as an object
of our will as pure rational beings.

Hence the distinction between the laws of a natural system to
which the will is subject, and of a natural system which is subject to
a will (as far as its relation to its free actions is concerned),
rests on this, that in the former the objects must be causes of the
ideas which determine the will; whereas in the latter the will is
the cause of the objects; so that its causality has its determining
principle solely in the pure faculty of reason, which may therefore be
called a pure practical reason.

There are therefore two very distinct problems: how, on the one
side, pure reason can cognise objects a priori, and how on the other
side it can be an immediate determining principle of the will, that
is, of the causality of the rational being with respect to the reality
of objects (through the mere thought of the universal validity of
its own maxims as laws).

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 135}

The former, which belongs to the critique of the pure speculative
reason, requires a previous explanation, how intuitions without
which no object can be given, and, therefore, none known
synthetically, are possible a priori; and its solution turns out to be
that these are all only sensible and, therefore, do not render
possible any speculative knowledge which goes further than possible
experience reaches; and that therefore all the principles of that pure
speculative reason avail only to make experience possible; either
experience of given objects or of those that may be given ad
infinitum, but never are completely given.

The latter, which belongs to the critique of practical reason,
requires no explanation how the objects of the faculty of desire are
possible, for that being a problem of the theoretical knowledge of
nature is left to the critique of the speculative reason, but only how
reason can determine the maxims of the will; whether this takes
place only by means of empirical ideas as principles of determination,
or whether pure reason can be practical and be the law of a possible
order of nature, which is not empirically knowable. The possibility of
such a supersensible system of nature, the conception of which can
also be the ground of its reality through our own free will, does
not require any a priori intuition (of an intelligible world) which,
being in this case supersensible, would be impossible for us. For
the question is only as to the determining principle of volition in
its maxims, namely, whether it is empirical, or is a conception of the
pure reason (having the legal character belonging to it in general),
and how it can be the latter. It is left to the theoretic principles
of reason to decide whether the causality of the will suffices for the
realization of the objects or not, this being an inquiry into the
possibility of the objects of the volition. Intuition of these objects
is therefore of no importance to the practical problem. We are here
concerned only with the determination of the will and the
determining principles of its maxims as a free will, not at all with
the result. For, provided only that the will conforms to the law of
pure reason, then let its power in execution be what it may, whether
according to these maxims of legislation of a possible system of
nature any such system really results or not, this is no concern of
the critique, which only inquires whether, and in what way, pure
reason can be practical, that is directly determine the will.

In this inquiry criticism may and must begin with pure practical
laws and their reality. But instead of intuition it takes as their
foundation the conception of their existence in the intelligible
world, namely, the concept of freedom. For this concept has no other
meaning, and these laws are only possible in relation to freedom of
the will; but freedom being supposed, they are necessary; or
conversely freedom is necessary because those laws are necessary,
being practical postulates. It cannot be further explained how this
consciousness of the moral law, or, what is the same thing, of
freedom, is possible; but that it is admissible is well established in
the theoretical critique.

The exposition of the supreme principle of practical reason is now
finished; that is to say, it has been- shown first, what it
contains, that it subsists for itself quite a priori and independent
of empirical principles; and next in what it is distinguished from all
other practical principles. With the deduction, that is, the
justification of its objective and universal validity, and the
discernment of the possibility of such a synthetical proposition a
priori, we cannot expect to succeed so well as in the case of the
principles of pure theoretical reason. For these referred to objects
of possible experience, namely, to phenomena, and we could prove
that these phenomena could be known as objects of experience only by
being brought under the categories in accordance with these laws;
and consequently that all possible experience must conform to these
laws. But I could not proceed in this way with the deduction of the
moral law. For this does not concern the knowledge of the properties
of objects, which may be given to the reason from some other source;
but a knowledge which can itself be the ground of the existence of the
objects, and by which reason in a rational being has causality,
i.e., pure reason, which can be regarded as a faculty immediately
determining the will.

Now all our human insight is at an end as soon as we have arrived at
fundamental powers or faculties, for the possibility of these cannot
be understood by any means, and just as little should it be
arbitrarily invented and assumed. Therefore, in the theoretic use of
reason, it is experience alone that can justify us in assuming them.
But this expedient of adducing empirical proofs, instead of a
deduction from a priori sources of knowledge, is denied us here in
respect to the pure practical faculty of reason. For whatever requires
to draw the proof of its reality from experience must depend for the
grounds of its possibility on principles of experience; and pure,
yet practical, reason by its very notion cannot be regarded as such.
Further, the moral law is given as a fact of pure reason of which we
are a priori conscious, and which is apodeictically certain, though it
be granted that in experience no example of its exact fulfilment can
be found. Hence, the objective reality of the moral law cannot be
proved by any deduction by any efforts of theoretical reason,
whether speculative or empirically supported, and therefore, even if
we renounced its apodeictic certainty, it could not be proved a
posteriori by experience, and yet it is firmly established of itself.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 140}

But instead of this vainly sought deduction of the moral
principle, something else is found which was quite unexpected, namely,
that this moral principle serves conversely as the principle of the
deduction of an inscrutable faculty which no experience could prove,
but of which speculative reason was compelled at least to assume the
possibility (in order to find amongst its cosmological ideas the
unconditioned in the chain of causality, so as not to contradict
itself)- I mean the faculty of freedom. The moral law, which itself
does not require a justification, proves not merely the possibility of
freedom, but that it really belongs to beings who recognize this law
as binding on themselves. The moral law is in fact a law of the
causality of free agents and, therefore, of the possibility of a
supersensible system of nature, just as the metaphysical law of events
in the world of sense was a law of causality of the sensible system of
nature; and it therefore determines what speculative philosophy was
compelled to leave undetermined, namely, the law for a causality,
the concept of which in the latter was only negative; and therefore
for the first time gives this concept objective reality.

This sort of credential of the moral law, viz., that it is set forth
as a principle of the deduction of freedom, which is a causality of
pure reason, is a sufficient substitute for all a priori
justification, since theoretic reason was compelled to assume at least
the possibility of freedom, in order to satisfy a want of its own. For
the moral law proves its reality, so as even to satisfy the critique
of the speculative reason, by the fact that it adds a positive
definition to a causality previously conceived only negatively, the
possibility of which was incomprehensible to speculative reason, which
yet was compelled to suppose it. For it adds the notion of a reason
that directly determines the will (by imposing on its maxims the
condition of a universal legislative form); and thus it is able for
the first time to give objective, though only practical, reality to
reason, which always became transcendent when it sought to proceed
speculatively with its ideas. It thus changes the transcendent use
of reason into an immanent use (so that reason is itself, by means
of ideas, an efficient cause in the field of experience).

The determination of the causality of beings in the world of
sense, as such, can never be unconditioned; and yet for every series
of conditions there must be something unconditioned, and therefore
there must be a causality which is determined wholly by itself. Hence,
the idea of freedom as a faculty of absolute spontaneity was not found
to be a want but, as far as its possibility is concerned, an
analytic principle of pure speculative reason. But as it is absolutely
impossible to find in experience any example in accordance with this
idea, because amongst the causes of things as phenomena it would be
impossible to meet with any absolutely unconditioned determination
of causality, we were only able to defend our supposition that a
freely acting cause might be a being in the world of sense, in so
far as it is considered in the other point of view as a noumenon,
showing that there is no contradiction in regarding all its actions as
subject to physical conditions so far as they are phenomena, and yet
regarding its causality as physically unconditioned, in so far as
the acting being belongs to the world of understanding, and in thus
making the concept of freedom the regulative principle of reason. By
this principle I do not indeed learn what the object is to which
that sort of causality is attributed; but I remove the difficulty,
for, on the one side, in the explanation of events in the world, and
consequently also of the actions of rational beings, I leave to the
mechanism of physical necessity the right of ascending from
conditioned to condition ad infinitum, while on the other side I
keep open for speculative reason the place which for it is vacant,
namely, the intelligible, in order to transfer the unconditioned
thither. But I was not able to verify this supposition; that is, to
change it into the knowledge of a being so acting, not even into the
knowledge of the possibility of such a being. This vacant place is now
filled by pure practical reason with a definite law of causality in an
intelligible world (causality with freedom), namely, the moral law.
Speculative reason does not hereby gain anything as regards its
insight, but only as regards the certainty of its problematical notion
of freedom, which here obtains objective reality, which, though only
practical, is nevertheless undoubted. Even the notion of causality-
the application, and consequently the signification, of which holds
properly only in relation to phenomena, so as to connect them into
experiences (as is shown by the Critique of Pure Reason)- is not so
enlarged as to extend its use beyond these limits. For if reason
sought to do this, it would have to show how the logical relation of
principle and consequence can be used synthetically in a different
sort of intuition from the sensible; that is how a causa noumenon is
possible. This it can never do; and, as practical reason, it does
not even concern itself with it, since it only places the
determining principle of causality of man as a sensible creature
(which is given) in pure reason (which is therefore called practical);
and therefore it employs the notion of cause, not in order to know
objects, but to determine causality in relation to objects in general.
It can abstract altogether from the application of this notion to
objects with a view to theoretical knowledge (since this concept is
always found a priori in the understanding even independently of any
intuition). Reason, then, employs it only for a practical purpose, and
hence we can transfer the determining principle of the will into the
intelligible order of things, admitting, at the same time, that we
cannot understand how the notion of cause can determine the
knowledge of these things. But reason must cognise causality with
respect to the actions of the will in the sensible world in a definite
manner; otherwise, practical reason could not really produce any
action. But as to the notion which it forms of its own causality as
noumenon, it need not determine it theoretically with a view to the
cognition of its supersensible existence, so as to give it
significance in this way. For it acquires significance apart from
this, though only for practical use, namely, through the moral law.
Theoretically viewed, it remains always a pure a priori concept of the
understanding, which can be applied to objects whether they have
been given sensibly or not, although in the latter case it has no
definite theoretical significance or application, but is only a
formal, though essential, conception of the understanding relating
to an object in general. The significance which reason gives it
through the moral law is merely practical, inasmuch as the idea of the
idea of the law of causality (of the will) has self causality, or is
its determining principle.

II. Of the Right that Pure Reason in its Practical use has to an
Extension which is not possible to it in its Speculative Use.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 145}

We have in the moral principle set forth a law of causality, the
determining principle of which is set above all the conditions of
the sensible world; we have it conceived how the will, as belonging to
the intelligible world, is determinable, and therefore we therefore we
have its subject (man) not merely conceived as belonging to a world of
pure understanding, and in this respect unknown (which the critique of
speculative reason enabled us to do), but also defined as regards
his causality by means of a law which cannot be reduced to any
physical law of the sensible world; and therefore our knowledge is
extended beyond the limits of that world, a pretension which the
Critique of Pure Reason declared to be futile in all speculation. Now,
how is the practical use of pure reason here to be reconciled with the
theoretical, as to the determination of the limits of its faculty?

David Hume, of whom we may say that he commenced the assault on
the claims of pure reason, which made a thorough investigation of it
necessary, argued thus: The notion of cause is a notion that
involves the necessity of the connexion of the existence of
different things (and that, in so far as they are different), so that,
given A, I know that something quite distinct there from, namely B,
must necessarily also exist. Now necessity can be attributed to a
connection, only in so far as it is known a priori, for experience
would only enable us to know of such a connection that it exists,
not that it necessarily exists. Now, it is impossible, says he, to
know a priori and as necessary the connection between one thing and
another (or between one attribute and another quite distinct) when
they have not been given in experience. Therefore the notion of a
cause is fictitious and delusive and, to speak in the mildest way,
is an illusion, only excusable inasmuch as the custom (a subjective
necessity) of perceiving certain things, or their attributes as
often associated in existence along with or in succession to one
another, is insensibly taken for an objective necessity of supposing
such a connection in the objects themselves; and thus the notion of
a cause has been acquired surreptitiously and not legitimately; nay,
it can never be so acquired or authenticated, since it demands a
connection in itself vain, chimerical, and untenable in presence of
reason, and to which no object can ever correspond. In this way was
empiricism first introduced as the sole source of principles, as far
as all knowledge of the existence of things is concerned
(mathematics therefore remaining excepted); and with empiricism the
most thorough scepticism, even with regard to the whole science of
nature( as philosophy). For on such principles we can never conclude
from given attributes of things as existing to a consequence (for this
would require the notion of cause, which involves the necessity of
such a connection); we can only, guided by imagination, expect similar
cases- an expectation which is never certain, however of ten it has
been fulfilled. Of no event could we say: a certain thing must have
preceded it, on which it necessarily followed; that is, it must have a
cause; and therefore, however frequent the cases we have known in
which there was such an antecedent, so that a rule could be derived
from them, yet we never could suppose it as always and necessarily
so happening; we should, therefore, be obliged to leave its share to
blind chance, with which all use of reason comes to an end; and this
firmly establishes scepticism in reference to arguments ascending from
effects to causes and makes it impregnable.

Mathematics escaped well, so far, because Hume thought that its
propositions were analytical; that is, proceeded from one property
to another, by virtue of identity and, consequently, according to
the principle of contradiction. This, however, is not the case, since,
on the contrary, they are synthetical; and although geometry, for
example, has not to do with the existence of things, but only with
their a priori properties in a possible intuition, yet it proceeds
just as in the case of the causal notion, from one property (A) to
another wholly distinct (B), as necessarily connected with the former.
Nevertheless, mathematical science, so highly vaunted for its
apodeictic certainty, must at last fall under this empiricism for
the same reason for which Hume put custom in the place of objective
necessity in the notion of cause and, in spite of all its pride,
must consent to lower its bold pretension of claiming assent a
priori and depend for assent to the universality of its propositions
on the kindness of observers, who, when called as witnesses, would
surely not hesitate to admit that what the geometer propounds as a
theorem they have always perceived to be the fact, and,
consequently, although it be not necessarily true, yet they would
permit us to expect it to be true in the future. In this manner Hume's
empiricism leads inevitably to scepticism, even with regard to
mathematics, and consequently in every scientific theoretical use of
reason (for this belongs either to philosophy or mathematics). Whether
with such a terrible overthrow of the chief branches of knowledge,
common reason will escape better, and will not rather become
irrecoverably involved in this destruction of all knowledge, so that
from the same principles a universal scepticism should follow
(affecting, indeed, only the learned), this I will leave everyone to
judge for himself.

As regards my own labours in the critical examination of pure
reason, which were occasioned by Hume's sceptical teaching, but went
much further and embraced the whole field of pure theoretical reason
in its synthetic use and, consequently, the field of what is called
metaphysics in general; I proceeded in the following manner with
respect to the doubts raised by the Scottish philosopher touching
the notion of causality. If Hume took the objects of experience for
things in themselves (as is almost always done), he was quite right in
declaring the notion of cause to be a deception and false illusion;
for as to things in themselves, and their attributes as such, it is
impossible to see why because A is given, B, which is different,
must necessarily be also given, and therefore he could by no means
admit such an a priori knowledge of things in themselves. Still less
could this acute writer allow an empirical origin of this concept,
since this is directly contradictory to the necessity of connection
which constitutes the essence of the notion of causality, hence the
notion was proscribed, and in its place was put custom in the
observation of the course of perceptions.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 150}

It resulted, however, from my inquiries, that the objects with which
we have to do in experience are by no means things in themselves,
but merely phenomena; and that although in the case of things in
themselves it is impossible to see how, if A is supposed, it should be
contradictory that B, which is quite different from A, should not also
be supposed (i.e., to see the necessity of the connection between A as
cause and B as effect); yet it can very well be conceived that, as
phenomena, they may be necessarily connected in one experience in a
certain way (e.g., with regard to time-relations); so that they
could not be separated without contradicting that connection, by means
of which this experience is possible in which they are objects and
in which alone they are cognisable by us. And so it was found to be in
fact; so that I was able not only to prove the objective reality of
the concept of cause in regard to objects of experience, but also to
deduce it as an a priori concept by reason of the necessity of the
connection it implied; that is, to show the possibility of its
origin from pure understanding without any empirical sources; and
thus, after removing the source of empiricism, I was able also to
overthrow the inevitable consequence of this, namely, scepticism,
first with regard to physical science, and then with regard to
mathematics (in which empiricism has just the same grounds), both
being sciences which have reference to objects of possible experience;
herewith overthrowing the thorough doubt of whatever theoretic
reason professes to discern.

But how is it with the application of this category of causality
(and all the others; for without them there can be no knowledge of
anything existing) to things which are not objects of possible
experience, but lie beyond its bounds? For I was able to deduce the
objective reality of these concepts only with regard to objects of
possible experience. But even this very fact, that I have saved
them, only in case I have proved that objects may by means of them
be thought, though not determined a priori; this it is that gives them
a place in the pure understanding, by which they are referred to
objects in general (sensible or not sensible). If anything is still
wanting, it is that which is the condition of the application of these
categories, and especially that of causality, to objects, namely,
intuition; for where this is not given, the application with a view to
theoretic knowledge of the object, as a noumenon, is impossible and,
therefore, if anyone ventures on it, is (as in the Critique of Pure
Reason) absolutely forbidden. Still, the objective reality of the
concept (of causality) remains, and it can be used even of noumena,
but without our being able in the least to define the concept
theoretically so as to produce knowledge. For that this concept,
even in reference to an object, contains nothing impossible, was shown
by this, that, even while applied to objects of sense, its seat was
certainly fixed in the pure understanding; and although, when referred
to things in themselves (which cannot be objects of experience), it is
not capable of being determined so as to represent a definite object
for the purpose of theoretic knowledge; yet for any other purpose (for
instance, a practical) it might be capable of being determined so as
to have such application. This could not be the case if, as Hume
maintained, this concept of causality contained something absolutely
impossible to be thought.

In order now to discover this condition of the application of the
said concept to noumena, we need only recall why we are not content
with its application to objects of experience, but desire also to
apply it to things in themselves. It will appear, then, that it is not
a theoretic but a practical purpose that makes this a necessity. In
speculation, even if we were successful in it, we should not really
gain anything in the knowledge of nature, or generally with regard
to such objects as are given, but we should make a wide step from
the sensibly conditioned (in which we have already enough to do to
maintain ourselves, and to follow carefully the chain of causes) to
the supersensible, in order to complete our knowledge of principles
and to fix its limits; whereas there always remains an infinite
chasm unfilled between those limits and what we know; and we should
have hearkened to a vain curiosity rather than a solid-desire of

But, besides the relation in which the understanding stands to
objects (in theoretical knowledge), it has also a relation to the
faculty of desire, which is therefore called the will, and the pure
will, inasmuch as pure understanding (in this case called reason) is
practical through the mere conception of a law. The objective
reality of a pure will, or, what is the same thing, of a pure
practical reason, is given in the moral law a priori, as it were, by a
fact, for so we may name a determination of the will which is
inevitable, although it does not rest on empirical principles. Now, in
the notion of a will the notion of causality is already contained, and
hence the notion of a pure will contains that of a causality
accompanied with freedom, that is, one which is not determinable by
physical laws, and consequently is not capable of any empirical
intuition in proof of its reality, but, nevertheless, completely
justifies its objective reality a priori in the pure practical law;
not, indeed (as is easily seen) for the purposes of the theoretical,
but of the practical use of reason. Now the notion of a being that has
free will is the notion of a causa noumenon, and that this notion
involves no contradiction, we are already assured by the fact- that
inasmuch as the concept of cause has arisen wholly from pure
understanding, and has its objective reality assured by the deduction,
as it is moreover in its origin independent of any sensible
conditions, it is, therefore, not restricted to phenomena (unless we
wanted to make a definite theoretic use of it), but can be applied
equally to things that are objects of the pure understanding. But,
since this application cannot rest on any intuition (for intuition can
only be sensible), therefore, causa noumenon, as regards the theoretic
use of reason, although a possible and thinkable, is yet an empty
notion. Now, I do not desire by means of this to understand
theoretically the nature of a being, in so far as it has a pure
will; it is enough for me to have thereby designated it as such, and
hence to combine the notion of causality with that of freedom (and
what is inseparable from it, the moral law, as its determining
principle). Now, this right I certainly have by virtue of the pure,
not-empirical origin of the notion of cause, since I do not consider
myself entitled to make any use of it except in reference to the moral
law which determines its reality, that is, only a practical use.

If, with Hume, I had denied to the notion of causality all objective
reality in its [theoretic] use, not merely with regard to things in
themselves (the supersensible), but also with regard to the objects of
the senses, it would have lost all significance, and being a
theoretically impossible notion would have been declared to be quite
useless; and since what is nothing cannot be made any use of, the
practical use of a concept theoretically null would have been
absurd. But, as it is, the concept of a causality free from
empirical conditions, although empty, i.e., without any appropriate
intuition), is yet theoretically possible, and refers to an
indeterminate object; but in compensation significance is given to
it in the moral law and consequently in a practical sense. I have,
indeed, no intuition which should determine its objective theoretic
reality, but not the less it has a real application, which is
exhibited in concreto in intentions or maxims; that is, it has a
practical reality which can be specified, and this is sufficient to
justify it even with a view to noumena.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 155}

Now, this objective reality of a pure concept of the understanding
in the sphere of the supersensible, once brought in, gives an
objective reality also to all the other categories, although only so
far as they stand in necessary connexion with the determining
principle of the will (the moral law); a reality only of practical
application, which has not the least effect in enlarging our
theoretical knowledge of these objects, or the discernment of their
nature by pure reason. So we shall find also in the sequel that
these categories refer only to beings as intelligences, and in them
only to the relation of reason to the will; consequently, always
only to the practical, and beyond this cannot pretend to any knowledge
of these beings; and whatever other properties belonging to the
theoretical representation of supersensible things may be brought into
connexion with these categories, this is not to be reckoned as
knowledge, but only as a right (in a practical point of view, however,
it is a necessity) to admit and assume such beings, even in the case
where we [conceive] supersensible beings (e.g., God) according to
analogy, that is, a purely rational relation, of which we make a
practical use with reference to what is sensible; and thus the
application to the supersensible solely in a practical point of view
does not give pure theoretic reason the least encouragement to run
riot into the transcendent.


CHAPTER II. Of the Concept of an Object of Pure Practical Reason.

By a concept of the practical reason I understand the idea of an
object as an effect possible to be produced through freedom. To be
an object of practical knowledge, as such, signifies, therefore,
only the relation of the will to the action by which the object or its
opposite would be realized; and to decide whether something is an
object of pure practical reason or not is only to discern the
possibility or impossibility of willing the action by which, if we had
the required power (about which experience must decide), a certain
object would be realized. If the object be taken as the determining
principle of our desire, it must first be known whether it is
physically possible by the free use of our powers, before we decide
whether it is an object of practical reason or not. On the other hand,
if the law can be considered a priori as the determining principle
of the action, and the latter therefore as determined by pure
practical reason, the judgement whether a thing is an object of pure
practical reason or not does not depend at all on the comparison
with our physical power; and the question is only whether we should
will an action that is directed to the existence of an object, if
the object were in our power; hence the previous question is only as
the moral possibility of the action, for in this case it is not the
object, but the law of the will, that is the determining principle
of the action. The only objects of practical reason are therefore
those of good and evil. For by the former is meant an object
necessarily desired according to a principle of reason; by the
latter one necessarily shunned, also according to a principle of

If the notion of good is not to be derived from an antecedent
practical law, but, on the contrary, is to serve as its foundation, it
can only be the notion of something whose existence promises pleasure,
and thus determines the causality of the subject to produce it, that
is to say, determines the faculty of desire. Now, since it is
impossible to discern a priori what idea will be accompanied with
pleasure and what with pain, it will depend on experience alone to
find out what is primarily good or evil. The property of the
subject, with reference to which alone this experiment can be made, is
the feeling of pleasure and pain, a receptivity belonging to the
internal sense; thus that only would be primarily good with which
the sensation of pleasure is immediately connected, and that simply
evil which immediately excites pain. Since, however, this is opposed
even to the usage of language, which distinguishes the pleasant from
the good, the unpleasant from the evil, and requires that good and
evil shall always be judged by reason, and, therefore, by concepts
which can be communicated to everyone, and not by mere sensation,
which is limited to individual [subjects] and their susceptibility;
and, since nevertheless, pleasure or pain cannot be connected with any
idea of an object a priori, the philosopher who thought himself
obliged to make a feeling of pleasure the foundation of his
practical judgements would call that good which is a means to the
pleasant, and evil, what is a cause of unpleasantness and pain; for
the judgement on the relation of means to ends certainly belongs to
reason. But, although reason is alone capable of discerning the
connexion of means with their ends (so that the will might even be
defined as the faculty of ends, since these are always determining
principles of the desires), yet the practical maxims which would
follow from the aforesaid principle of the good being merely a
means, would never contain as the object of the will anything good
in itself, but only something good for something; the good would
always be merely the useful, and that for which it is useful must
always lie outside the will, in sensation. Now if this as a pleasant
sensation were to be distinguished from the notion of good, then there
would be nothing primarily good at all, but the good would have to
be sought only in the means to something else, namely, some

It is an old formula of the schools: Nihil appetimus nisi sub
ratione boni; Nihil aversamur nisi sub ratione mali, and it is used
often correctly, but often also in a manner injurious to philosophy,
because the expressions boni and mali are ambiguous, owing to the
poverty of language, in consequence of which they admit a double
sense, and, therefore, inevitably bring the practical laws into
ambiguity; and philosophy, which in employing them becomes aware of
the different meanings in the same word, but can find no special
expressions for them, is driven to subtile distinctions about which
there is subsequently no unanimity, because the distinction could
not be directly marked by any suitable expression. *

* Besides this, the expression sub ratione boni is also ambiguous.
For it may mean: "We represent something to ourselves as good, when
and because we desire (will) it"; or "We desire something because we
represent it to ourselves as good," so that either the desire
determines the notion of the object as a good, or the notion of good
determines the desire (the will); so that in the first case sub
ratione boni would mean, "We will something under the idea of the
good"; in the second, "In consequence of this idea," which, as
determining the volition, must precede it.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 5}

The German language has the good fortune to possess expressions
which do not allow this difference to be overlooked. It possesses
two very distinct concepts and especially distinct expressions for
that which the Latins express by a single word, bonum. For bonum it
has das Gute [good], and das Wohl [well, weal], for malum das Bose
[evil], and das Ubel [ill, bad], or das Well [woe]. So that we express
two quite distinct judgements when we consider in an action the good
and evil of it, or our weal and woe (ill). Hence it already follows
that the above quoted psychological proposition is at least very
doubtful if it is translated: "We desire nothing except with a view to
our weal or woe"; on the other hand, if we render it thus: "Under
the direction of reason we desire nothing except so far as we esteem
it good or evil," it is indubitably certain and at the same time quite
clearly expressed.

Well or ill always implies only a reference to our condition, as
pleasant or unpleasant, as one of pleasure or pain, and if we desire
or avoid an object on this account, it is only so far as it is
referred to our sensibility and to the feeling of pleasure or pain
that it produces. But good or evil always implies a reference to the
will, as determined by the law of reason, to make something its
object; for it is never determined directly by the object and the idea
of it, but is a faculty of taking a rule of reason for or motive of an
action (by which an object may be realized). Good and evil therefore
are properly referred to actions, not to the sensations of the person,
and if anything is to be good or evil absolutely (i.e., in every
respect and without any further condition), or is to be so esteemed,
it can only be the manner of acting, the maxim of the will, and
consequently the acting person himself as a good or evil man that
can be so called, and not a thing.

However, then, men may laugh at the Stoic, who in the severest
paroxysms of gout cried out: "Pain, however thou tormentest me, I will
never admit that thou art an evil (kakov, malum)": he was right. A bad
thing it certainly was, and his cry betrayed that; but that any evil
attached to him thereby, this he bad no reason whatever to admit,
for pain did not in the least diminish the worth of his person, but
only that of his condition. If he had been conscious of a single
lie, it would have lowered his pride, but pain served only to raise
it, when he was conscious that he had not deserved it by any
unrighteous action by which he had rendered himself worthy of

What we call good must be an object of desire in the judgement of
every rational man, and evil an object of aversion in the eyes of
everyone; therefore, in addition to sense, this judgement requires
reason. So it is with truthfulness, as opposed to lying; so with
justice, as opposed to violence, &c. But we may call a thing a bad [or
ill) thing, which yet everyone must at the same time acknowledge to be
good, sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. The man who submits to
a surgical operation feels it no doubt as a bad thing, but by their
reason he and everyone acknowledge it to be good. If a man who
delights in annoying and vexing peaceable people at last receives a
right good beating, this is no doubt a bad thing; but everyone
approves it and regards it as a good thing, even though nothing else
resulted from it; nay, even the man who receives it must in his reason
acknowledge that he has met justice, because he sees the proportion
between good conduct and good fortune, which reason inevitably
places before him, here put into practice.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 10}

No doubt our weal and woe are of very great importance in the
estimation of our practical reason, and as far as our nature as
sensible beings is concerned, our happiness is the only thing of
consequence, provided it is estimated as reason especially requires,
not by the transitory sensation, but by the influence that this has on
our whole existence, and on our satisfaction therewith; but it is
not absolutely the only thing of consequence. Man is a being who, as
belonging to the world of sense, has wants, and so far his reason
has an office which it cannot refuse, namely, to attend to the
interest of his sensible nature, and to form practical maxims, even
with a view to the happiness of this life, and if possible even to
that of a future. But he is not so completely an animal as to be
indifferent to what reason says on its own account, and to use it
merely as an instrument for the satisfaction of his wants as a
sensible being. For the possession of reason would not raise his worth
above that of the brutes, if it is to serve him only for the same
purpose that instinct serves in them; it would in that case be only
a particular method which nature had employed to equip man for the
same ends for which it has qualified brutes, without qualifying him
for any higher purpose. No doubt once this arrangement of nature has
been made for him he requires reason in order to take into
consideration his weal and woe, but besides this he possesses it for a
higher purpose also, namely, not only to take into consideration
what is good or evil in itself, about which only pure reason,
uninfluenced by any sensible interest, can judge, but also to
distinguish this estimate thoroughly from the former and to make it
the supreme condition thereof.

In estimating what is good or evil in itself, as distinguished
from what can be so called only relatively, the following points are
to be considered. Either a rational principle is already conceived, as
of itself the determining principle of the will, without regard to
possible objects of desire (and therefore by the more legislative form
of the maxim), and in that case that principle is a practical a priori
law, and pure reason is supposed to be practical of itself. The law in
that case determines the will directly; the action conformed to it
is good in itself; a will whose maxim always conforms to this law is
good absolutely in every respect and is the supreme condition of all
good. Or the maxim of the will is consequent on a determining
principle of desire which presupposes an object of pleasure or pain,
something therefore that pleases or displeases, and the maxim of
reason that we should pursue the former and avoid the latter
determines our actions as good relatively to our inclination, that is,
good indirectly, i.e., relatively to a different end to which they are
means), and in that case these maxims can never be called laws, but
may be called rational practical precepts. The end itself, the
pleasure that we seek, is in the latter case not a good but a welfare;
not a concept of reason, but an empirical concept of an object of
sensation; but the use of the means thereto, that is, the action, is
nevertheless called good (because rational deliberation is required
for it), not however, good absolutely, but only relatively to our
sensuous nature, with regard to its feelings of pleasure and
displeasure; but the will whose maxim is affected thereby is not a
pure will; this is directed only to that in which pure reason by
itself can be practical.

This is the proper place to explain the paradox of method in a
critique of practical reason, namely, that the concept of good and
evil must not be determined before the moral law (of which it seems as
if it must be the foundation), but only after it and by means of it.
In fact, even if we did not know that the principle of morality is a
pure a priori law determining the will, yet, that we may not assume
principles quite gratuitously, we must, at least at first, leave it
undecided, whether the will has merely empirical principles of
determination, or whether it has not also pure a priori principles;
for it is contrary to all rules of philosophical method to assume as
decided that which is the very point in question. Supposing that we
wished to begin with the concept of good, in order to deduce from it
the laws of the will, then this concept of an object (as a good) would
at the same time assign to us this object as the sole determining
principle of the will. Now, since this concept had not any practical a
priori law for its standard, the criterion of good or evil could not
be placed in anything but the agreement of the object with our feeling
of pleasure or pain; and the use of reason could only consist in
determining in the first place this pleasure or pain in connexion with
all the sensations of my existence, and in the second place the
means of securing to myself the object of the pleasure. Now, as
experience alone can decide what conforms to the feeling of
pleasure, and by hypothesis the practical law is to be based on this
as a condition, it follows that the possibility of a priori
practical laws would be at once excluded, because it was imagined to
be necessary first of all to find an object the concept of which, as a
good, should constitute the universal though empirical principle of
determination of the will. But what it was necessary to inquire
first of all was whether there is not an a priori determining
principle of the will (and this could never be found anywhere but in a
pure practical law, in so far as this law prescribes to maxims
merely their form without regard to an object). Since, however, we
laid the foundation of all practical law in an object determined by
our conceptions of good and evil, whereas without a previous law
that object could not be conceived by empirical concepts, we have
deprived ourselves beforehand of the possibility of even conceiving
a pure practical law. On the other hand, if we had first
investigated the latter analytically, we should have found that it
is not the concept of good as an object that determines the moral
law and makes it possible, but that, on the contrary, it is the
moral law that first determines the concept of good and makes it
possible, so far as it deserves the name of good absolutely.

This remark, which only concerns the method of ultimate ethical
inquiries, is of importance. It explains at once the occasion of all
the mistakes of philosophers with respect to the supreme principle
of morals. For they sought for an object of the will which they
could make the matter and principle of a law (which consequently could
not determine the will directly, but by means of that object
referred to the feeling of pleasure or pain; whereas they ought
first to have searched for a law that would determine the will a
priori and directly, and afterwards determine the object in accordance
with the will). Now, whether they placed this object of pleasure,
which was to supply the supreme conception of goodness, in
happiness, in perfection, in moral [feeling], or in the will of God,
their principle in every case implied heteronomy, and they must
inevitably come upon empirical conditions of a moral law, since
their object, which was to be the immediate principle of the will,
could not be called good or bad except in its immediate relation to
feeling, which is always empirical. It is only a formal law- that
is, one which prescribes to reason nothing more than the form of its
universal legislation as the supreme condition of its maxims- that can
be a priori a determining principle of practical reason. The
ancients avowed this error without concealment by directing all
their moral inquiries to the determination of the notion of the summum
bonum, which they intended afterwards to make the determining
principle of the will in the moral law; whereas it is only far
later, when the moral law has been first established for itself, and
shown to be the direct determining principle of the will, that this
object can be presented to the will, whose form is now determined a
priori; and this we shall undertake in the Dialectic of the pure
practical reason. The moderns, with whom the question of the summum
bonum has gone out of fashion, or at least seems to have become a
secondary matter, hide the same error under vague (expressions as in
many other cases). It shows itself, nevertheless, in their systems, as
it always produces heteronomy of practical reason; and from this can
never be derived a moral law giving universal commands.

Now, since the notions of good and evil, as consequences of the a
priori determination of the will, imply also a pure practical
principle, and therefore a causality of pure reason; hence they do not
originally refer to objects (so as to be, for instance, special
modes of the synthetic unity of the manifold of given intuitions in
one consciousness) like the pure concepts of the understanding or
categories of reason in its theoretic employment; on the contrary,
they presuppose that objects are given; but they are all modes
(modi) of a single category, namely, that of causality, the
determining principle of which consists in the rational conception
of a law, which as a law of freedom reason gives to itself, thereby
a priori proving itself practical. However, as the actions on the
one side come under a law which is not a physical law, but a law of
freedom, and consequently belong to the conduct of beings in and
consequently the consequently belong to the beings in the world of
intelligence, yet on the other side as events in the world of sense
they belong to phenomena; hence the determinations of a practical
reason are only possible in reference to the latter and, therefore, in
accordance with the categories of the understanding; not indeed with a
view to any theoretic employment of it, i.e., so as to bring the
manifold of (sensible) intuition under one consciousness a priori; but
only to subject the manifold of desires to the unity of
consciousness of a practical reason, giving it commands in the moral
law, i.e., to a pure will a priori.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 15}

These categories of freedom- for so we choose to call them in
contrast to those theoretic categories which are categories of
physical nature- have an obvious advantage over the latter, inasmuch
as the latter are only forms of thought which designate objects in
an indefinite manner by means of universal concept of every possible
intuition; the former, on the contrary, refer to the determination
of a free elective will (to which indeed no exactly corresponding
intuition can be assigned, but which has as its foundation a pure
practical a priori law, which is not the case with any concepts
belonging to the theoretic use of our cognitive faculties); hence,
instead of the form of intuition (space and time), which does not
lie in reason itself, but has to be drawn from another source, namely,
the sensibility, these being elementary practical concepts have as
their foundation the form of a pure will, which is given in reason
and, therefore, in the thinking faculty itself. From this it happens
that as all precepts of pure practical reason have to do only with the
determination of the will, not with the physical conditions (of
practical ability) of the execution of one's purpose, the practical
a priori principles in relation to the supreme principle of freedom
are at once cognitions, and have not to wait for intuitions in order
to acquire significance, and that for this remarkable reason,
because they themselves produce the reality of that to which they
refer (the intention of the will), which is not the case with
theoretical concepts. Only we must be careful to observe that these
categories only apply to the practical reason; and thus they proceed
in order from those which are as yet subject to sensible conditions
and morally indeterminate to those which are free from sensible
conditions and determined merely by the moral law.

Table of the Categories of Freedom relatively to the Notions of Good
and Evil.


{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 20}

Subjective, according to maxims (practical opinions of the


Objective, according to principles (Precepts)

A priori both objective and subjective principles of freedom


{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 25}


Practical rules of action (praeceptivae)

Practical rules of omission (prohibitivae)

Practical rules of exceptions (exceptivae)

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 30}


To personality To the condition of the person.

Reciprocal, of one person to the others of the others.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 35}


The Permitted and the Forbidden

Duty and the contrary to duty.

Perfect and imperfect duty.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 40}

It will at once be observed that in this table freedom is considered
as a sort of causality not subject to empirical principles of
determination, in regard to actions possible by it, which are
phenomena in the world of sense, and that consequently it is
referred to the categories which concern its physical possibility,
whilst yet each category is taken so universally that the
determining principle of that causality can be placed outside the
world of sense in freedom as a property of a being in the world of
intelligence; and finally the categories of modality introduce the
transition from practical principles generally to those of morality,
but only problematically. These can be established dogmatically only
by the moral law.

I add nothing further here in explanation of the present table,
since it is intelligible enough of itself. A division of this kind
based on principles is very useful in any science, both for the sake
of thoroughness and intelligibility. Thus, for instance, we know
from the preceding table and its first number what we must begin
from in practical inquiries; namely, from the maxims which every one
founds on his own inclinations; the precepts which hold for a
species of rational beings so far as they agree in certain
inclinations; and finally the law which holds for all without regard
to their inclinations, etc. In this way we survey the whole plan of
what has to be done, every question of practical philosophy that has
to be answered, and also the order that is to be followed.

Of the Typic of the Pure Practical Judgement.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 45}

It is the notions of good and evil that first determine an object of
the will. They themselves, however, are subject to a practical rule of
reason which, if it is pure reason, determines the will a priori
relatively to its object. Now, whether an action which is possible
to us in the world of sense, comes under the rule or not, is a
question to be decided by the practical judgement, by which what is
said in the rule universally (in abstracto) is applied to an action in
concreto. But since a practical rule of pure reason in the first place
as practical concerns the existence of an object, and in the second
place as a practical rule of pure reason implies necessity as
regards the existence of the action and, therefore, is a practical
law, not a physical law depending on empirical principles of
determination, but a law of freedom by which the will is to be
determined independently on anything empirical (merely by the
conception of a law and its form), whereas all instances that can
occur of possible actions can only be empirical, that is, belong to
the experience of physical nature; hence, it seems absurd to expect to
find in the world of sense a case which, while as such it depends only
on the law of nature, yet admits of the application to it of a law
of freedom, and to which we can apply the supersensible idea of the
morally good which is to be exhibited in it in concreto. Thus, the
judgement of the pure practical reason is subject to the same
difficulties as that of the pure theoretical reason. The latter,
however, had means at hand of escaping from these difficulties,
because, in regard to the theoretical employment, intuitions were
required to which pure concepts of the understanding could be applied,
and such intuitions (though only of objects of the senses) can be
given a priori and, therefore, as far as regards the union of the
manifold in them, conforming to the pure a priori concepts of the
understanding as schemata. On the other hand, the morally good is
something whose object is supersensible; for which, therefore, nothing
corresponding can be found in any sensible intuition. Judgement
depending on laws of pure practical reason seems, therefore, to be
subject to special difficulties arising from this, that a law of
freedom is to be applied to actions, which are events taking place
in the world of sense, and which, so far, belong to physical nature.

But here again is opened a favourable prospect for the pure
practical judgement. When I subsume under a pure practical law an
action possible to me in the world of sense, I am not concerned with
the possibility of the action as an event in the world of sense.
This is a matter that belongs to the decision of reason in its
theoretic use according to the law of causality, which is a pure
concept of the understanding, for which reason has a schema in the
sensible intuition. Physical causality, or the condition under which
it takes place, belongs to the physical concepts, the schema of
which is sketched by transcendental imagination. Here, however, we
have to do, not with the schema of a case that occurs according to
laws, but with the schema of a law itself (if the word is allowable
here), since the fact that the will (not the action relatively to
its effect) is determined by the law alone without any other
principle, connects the notion of causality with quite different
conditions from those which constitute physical connection.

The physical law being a law to which the objects of sensible
intuition, as such, are subject, must have a schema corresponding to
it- that is, a general procedure of the imagination (by which it
exhibits a priori to the senses the pure concept of the
understanding which the law determines). But the law of freedom
(that is, of a causality not subject to sensible conditions), and
consequently the concept of the unconditionally good, cannot have
any intuition, nor consequently any schema supplied to it for the
purpose of its application in concreto. Consequently the moral law has
no faculty but the understanding to aid its application to physical
objects (not the imagination); and the understanding for the
purposes of the judgement can provide for an idea of the reason, not a
schema of the sensibility, but a law, though only as to its form as
law; such a law, however, as can be exhibited in concreto in objects
of the senses, and therefore a law of nature. We can therefore call
this law the type of the moral law.

The rule of the judgement according to laws of pure practical reason
is this: ask yourself whether, if the action you propose were to
take place by a law of the system of nature of which you were yourself
a part, you could regard it as possible by your own will. Everyone
does, in fact, decide by this rule whether actions are morally good or
evil. Thus, people say: "If everyone permitted himself to deceive,
when he thought it to his advantage; or thought himself justified in
shortening his life as soon as he was thoroughly weary of it; or
looked with perfect indifference on the necessity of others; and if
you belonged to such an order of things, would you do so with the
assent of your own will?" Now everyone knows well that if he
secretly allows himself to deceive, it does not follow that everyone
else does so; or if, unobserved, he is destitute of compassion, others
would not necessarily be so to him; hence, this comparison of the
maxim of his actions with a universal law of nature is not the
determining principle of his will. Such a law is, nevertheless, a type
of the estimation of the maxim on moral principles. If the maxim of
the action is not such as to stand the test of the form of a universal
law of nature, then it is morally impossible. This is the judgement
even of common sense; for its ordinary judgements, even those of
experience, are always based on the law of nature. It has it therefore
always at hand, only that in cases where causality from freedom is
to be criticised, it makes that law of nature only the type of a law
of freedom, because, without something which it could use as an
example in a case of experience, it could not give the law of a pure
practical reason its proper use in practice.

It is therefore allowable to use the system of the world of sense as
the type of a supersensible system of things, provided I do not
transfer to the latter the intuitions, and what depends on them, but
merely apply to it the form of law in general (the notion of which
occurs even in the commonest use of reason, but cannot be definitely
known a priori for any other purpose than the pure practical use of
reason); for laws, as such, are so far identical, no matter from
what they derive their determining principles.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 50}

Further, since of all the supersensible absolutely nothing [is
known] except freedom (through the moral law), and this only so far as
it is inseparably implied in that law, and moreover all
supersensible objects to which reason might lead us, following the
guidance of that law, have still no reality for us, except for the
purpose of that law, and for the use of mere practical reason; and
as reason is authorized and even compelled to use physical nature
(in its pure form as an object of the understanding) as the type of
the judgement; hence, the present remark will serve to guard against
reckoning amongst concepts themselves that which belongs only to the
typic of concepts. This, namely, as a typic of the judgement, guards
against the empiricism of practical reason, which founds the practical
notions of good and evil merely on experienced consequences (so-called
happiness). No doubt happiness and the infinite advantages which would
result from a will determined by self-love, if this will at the same
time erected itself into a universal law of nature, may certainly
serve as a perfectly suitable type of the morally good, but it is
not identical with it. The same typic guards also against the
mysticism of practical reason, which turns what served only as a
symbol into a schema, that is, proposes to provide for the moral
concepts actual intuitions, which, however, are not sensible
(intuitions of an invisible Kingdom of God), and thus plunges into the
transcendent. What is befitting the use of the moral concepts is
only the rationalism of the judgement, which takes from the sensible
system of nature only what pure reason can also conceive of itself,
that is, conformity to law, and transfers into the supersensible
nothing but what can conversely be actually exhibited by actions in
the world of sense according to the formal rule of a law of nature.
However, the caution against empiricism of practical reason is much
more important; for mysticism is quite reconcilable with the purity
and sublimity of the moral law, and, besides, it is not very natural
or agreeable to common habits of thought to strain one's imagination
to supersensible intuitions; and hence the danger on this side is
not so general. Empiricism, on the contrary, cuts up at the roots
the morality of intentions (in which, and not in actions only,
consists the high worth that men can and ought to give to themselves),
and substitutes for duty something quite different, namely, an
empirical interest, with which the inclinations generally are secretly
leagued; and empiricism, moreover, being on this account allied with
all the inclinations which (no matter what fashion they put on)
degrade humanity when they are raised to the dignity of a supreme
practical principle; and as these, nevertheless, are so favourable
to everyone's feelings, it is for that reason much more dangerous than
mysticism, which can never constitute a lasting condition of any great
number of persons.


CHAPTER III. Of the Motives of Pure Practical Reason.

What is essential in the moral worth of actions is that the moral
law should directly determine the will. If the determination of the
will takes place in conformity indeed to the moral law, but only by
means of a feeling, no matter of what kind, which has to be
presupposed in order that the law may be sufficient to determine the
will, and therefore not for the sake of the law, then the action
will possess legality, but not morality. Now, if we understand by
motive (elater animi) the subjective ground of determination of the
will of a being whose reason does not necessarily conform to the
objective law, by virtue of its own nature, then it will follow,
first, that not motives can be attributed to the Divine will, and that
the motives of the human will (as well as that of every created
rational being) can never be anything else than the moral law, and
consequently that the objective principle of determination must always
and alone be also the subjectively sufficient determining principle of
the action, if this is not merely to fulfil the letter of the law,
without containing its spirit. *

* We may say of every action that conforms to the law, but is not
done for the sake of the law, that it is morally good in the letter,
not in the spirit (the intention).

Since, then, for the purpose of giving the moral law influence
over the will, we must not seek for any other motives that might
enable us to dispense with the motive of the law itself, because
that would produce mere hypocrisy, without consistency; and it is even
dangerous to allow other motives (for instance, that of interest) even
to co-operate along with the moral law; hence nothing is left us but
to determine carefully in what way the moral law becomes a motive, and
what effect this has upon the faculty of desire. For as to the
question how a law can be directly and of itself a determining
principle of the will (which is the essence of morality), this is, for
human reason, an insoluble problem and identical with the question:
how a free will is possible. Therefore what we have to show a priori
is not why the moral law in itself supplies a motive, but what
effect it, as such, produces (or, more correctly speaking, must
produce) on the mind.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_3 ^paragraph 5}

The essential point in every determination of the will by the
moral law is that being a free will it is determined simply by the
moral law, not only without the co-operation of sensible impulses, but
even to the rejection of all such, and to the checking of all
inclinations so far as they might be opposed to that law. So far,
then, the effect of the moral law as a motive is only negative, and
this motive can be known a priori to be such. For all inclination
and every sensible impulse is founded on feeling, and the negative
effect produced on feeling (by the check on the inclinations) is
itself feeling; consequently, we can see a priori that the moral
law, as a determining principle of the will, must by thwarting all our
inclinations produce a feeling which may be called pain; and in this
we have the first, perhaps the only, instance in which we are able
from a priori considerations to determine the relation of a
cognition (in this case of pure practical reason) to the feeling of
pleasure or displeasure. All the inclinations together (which can be
reduced to a tolerable system, in which case their satisfaction is
called happiness) constitute self-regard (solipsismus). This is either
the self-love that consists in an excessive fondness for oneself
(philautia), or satisfaction with oneself (arrogantia). The former
is called particularly selfishness; the latter self-conceit. Pure
practical reason only checks selfishness, looking on it as natural and
active in us even prior to the moral law, so far as to limit it to the
condition of agreement with this law, and then it is called rational
self-love. But self-conceit reason strikes down altogether, since
all claims to self-esteem which precede agreement with the moral law
are vain and unjustifiable, for the certainty of a state of mind
that coincides with this law is the first condition of personal
worth (as we shall presently show more clearly), and prior to this
conformity any pretension to worth is false and unlawful. Now the
propensity to self-esteem is one of the inclinations which the moral
law checks, inasmuch as that esteem rests only on morality.
Therefore the moral law breaks down self-conceit. But as this law is
something positive in itself, namely, the form of an intellectual
causality, that is, of freedom, it must be an object of respect;
for, by opposing the subjective antagonism of the inclinations, it
weakens self-conceit; and since it even breaks down, that is,
humiliates, this conceit, it is an object of the highest respect
and, consequently, is the foundation of a positive feeling which is
not of empirical origin, but is known a priori. Therefore respect
for the moral law is a feeling which is produced by an intellectual
cause, and this feeling is the only one that we know quite a priori
and the necessity of which we can perceive.

In the preceding chapter we have seen that everything that
presents itself as an object of the will prior to the moral law is
by that law itself, which is the supreme condition of practical
reason, excluded from the determining principles of the will which
we have called the unconditionally good; and that the mere practical
form which consists in the adaptation of the maxims to universal
legislation first determines what is good in itself and absolutely,
and is the basis of the maxims of a pure will, which alone is good
in every respect. However, we find that our nature as sensible
beings is such that the matter of desire (objects of inclination,
whether of hope or fear) first presents itself to us; and our
pathologically affected self, although it is in its maxims quite unfit
for universal legislation; yet, just as if it constituted our entire
self, strives to put its pretensions forward first, and to have them
acknowledged as the first and original. This propensity to make
ourselves in the subjective determining principles of our choice serve
as the objective determining principle of the will generally may be
called self-love; and if this pretends to be legislative as an
unconditional practical principle it may be called self-conceit. Now
the moral law, which alone is truly objective (namely, in every
respect), entirely excludes the influence of self-love on the
supreme practical principle, and indefinitely checks the
self-conceit that prescribes the subjective conditions of the former
as laws. Now whatever checks our self-conceit in our own judgement
humiliates; therefore the moral law inevitably humbles every man
when he compares with it the physical propensities of his nature.
That, the idea of which as a determining principle of our will humbles
us in our self-consciousness, awakes respect for itself, so far as
it is itself positive and a determining principle. Therefore the moral
law is even subjectively a cause of respect. Now since everything that
enters into self-love belongs to inclination, and all inclination
rests on feelings, and consequently whatever checks all the feelings
together in self-love has necessarily, by this very circumstance, an
influence on feeling; hence we comprehend how it is possible to
perceive a priori that the moral law can produce an effect on feeling,
in that it excludes the inclinations and the propensity to make them
the supreme practical condition, i.e., self-love, from all
participation in the supreme legislation. This effect is on one side
merely negative, but on the other side, relatively to the
restricting principle of pure practical reason, it is positive. No
special kind of feeling need be assumed for this under the name of a
practical or moral feeling as antecedent to the moral law and
serving as its foundation.

The negative effect on feeling (unpleasantness) is pathological,
like every influence on feeling and like every feeling generally.
But as an effect of the consciousness of the moral law, and
consequently in relation to a supersensible cause, namely, the subject
of pure practical reason which is the supreme lawgiver, this feeling
of a rational being affected by inclinations is called humiliation
(intellectual self-depreciation); but with reference to the positive
source of this humiliation, the law, it is respect for it. There is
indeed no feeling for this law; but inasmuch as it removes the
resistance out of the way, this removal of an obstacle is, in the
judgement of reason, esteemed equivalent to a positive help to its
causality. Therefore this feeling may also be called a feeling of
respect for the moral law, and for both reasons together a moral

While the moral law, therefore, is a formal determining principle of
action by practical pure reason, and is moreover a material though
only objective determining principle of the objects of action as
called good and evil, it is also a subjective determining principle,
that is, a motive to this action, inasmuch as it has influence on
the morality of the subject and produces a feeling conducive to the
influence of the law on the will. There is here in the subject no
antecedent feeling tending to morality. For this is impossible,
since every feeling is sensible, and the motive of moral intention
must be free from all sensible conditions. On the contrary, while
the sensible feeling which is at the bottom of all our inclinations is
the condition of that impression which we call respect, the cause that
determines it lies in the pure practical reason; and this impression
therefore, on account of its origin, must be called, not a
pathological but a practical effect. For by the fact that the
conception of the moral law deprives self-love of its influence, and
self-conceit of its illusion, it lessens the obstacle to pure
practical reason and produces the conception of the superiority of its
objective law to the impulses of the sensibility; and thus, by
removing the counterpoise, it gives relatively greater weight to the
law in the judgement of reason (in the case of a will affected by
the aforesaid impulses). Thus the respect for the law is not a
motive to morality, but is morality itself subjectively considered
as a motive, inasmuch as pure practical reason, by rejecting all the
rival pretensions of selflove, gives authority to the law, which now
alone has influence. Now it is to be observed that as respect is an
effect on feeling, and therefore on the sensibility, of a rational
being, it presupposes this sensibility, and therefore also the
finiteness of such beings on whom the moral law imposes respect; and
that respect for the law cannot be attributed to a supreme being, or
to any being free from all sensibility, in whom, therefore, this
sensibility cannot be an obstacle to practical reason.

This feeling (which we call the moral feeling) is therefore produced
simply by reason. It does not serve for the estimation of actions
nor for the foundation of the objective moral law itself, but merely
as a motive to make this of itself a maxim. But what name could we
more suitably apply to this singular feeling which cannot be
compared to any pathological feeling? It is of such a peculiar kind
that it seems to be at the disposal of reason only, and that pure
practical reason.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_3 ^paragraph 10}

Respect applies always to persons only- not to things. The latter
may arouse inclination, and if they are animals (e.g., horses, dogs,
etc.), even love or fear, like the sea, a volcano, a beast of prey;
but never respect. Something that comes nearer to this feeling is
admiration, and this, as an affection, astonishment, can apply to
things also, e.g., lofty mountains, the magnitude, number, and
distance of the heavenly bodies, the strength and swiftness of many
animals, etc. But all this is not respect. A man also may be an object
to me of love, fear, or admiration, even to astonishment, and yet
not be an object of respect. His jocose humour, his courage and
strength, his power from the rank be has amongst others, may inspire
me with sentiments of this kind, but still inner respect for him is
wanting. Fontenelle says, "I bow before a great man, but my mind
does not bow." I would add, before an humble plain man, in whom I
perceive uprightness of character in a higher degree than I am
conscious of in myself,- my mind bows whether I choose it or not,
and though I bear my head never so high that he may not forget my
superior rank. Why is this? Because his example exhibits to me a law
that humbles my self-conceit when I compare it with my conduct: a law,
the practicability of obedience to which I see proved by fact before
my eyes. Now, I may even be conscious of a like degree of uprightness,
and yet the respect remains. For since in man all good is defective,
the law made visible by an example still humbles my pride, my standard
being furnished by a man whose imperfections, whatever they may be,
are not known to me as my own are, and who therefore appears to me
in a more favourable light. Respect is a tribute which we cannot
refuse to merit, whether we will or not; we may indeed outwardly
withhold it, but we cannot help feeling it inwardly.

Respect is so far from being a feeling of pleasure that we only
reluctantly give way to it as regards a man. We try to find out
something that may lighten the burden of it, some fault to
compensate us for the humiliation which such which such an example
causes. Even the dead are not always secure from this criticism,
especially if their example appears inimitable. Even the moral law
itself in its solemn majesty is exposed to this endeavour to save
oneself from yielding it respect. Can it be thought that it is for any
other reason that we are so ready to reduce it to the level of our
familiar inclination, or that it is for any other reason that we all
take such trouble to make it out to be the chosen precept of our own
interest well understood, but that we want to be free from the
deterrent respect which shows us our own unworthiness with such
severity? Nevertheless, on the other hand, so little is there pain
in it that if once one has laid aside self-conceit and allowed
practical influence to that respect, he can never be satisfied with
contemplating the majesty of this law, and the soul believes itself
elevated in proportion as it sees the holy law elevated above it and
its frail nature. No doubt great talents and activity proportioned
to them may also occasion respect or an analogous feeling. It is
very proper to yield it to them, and then it appears as if this
sentiment were the same thing as admiration. But if we look closer
we shall observe that it is always uncertain how much of the ability
is due to native talent, and how much to diligence in cultivating
it. Reason represents it to us as probably the fruit of cultivation,
and therefore as meritorious, and this notably reduces our
self-conceit, and either casts a reproach on us or urges us to
follow such an example in the way that is suitable to us. This
respect, then, which we show to such a person (properly speaking, to
the law that his example exhibits) is not mere admiration; and this is
confirmed also by the fact that when the common run of admirers
think they have learned from any source the badness of such a man's
character (for instance Voltaire's) they give up all respect for
him; whereas the true scholar still feels it at least with regard to
his talents, because he is himself engaged in a business and a
vocation which make imitation of such a man in some degree a law.

Respect for the moral law is, therefore, the only and the
undoubted moral motive, and this feeling is directed to no object,
except on the ground of this law. The moral law first determines the
will objectively and directly in the judgement of reason; and freedom,
whose causality can be determined only by the law, consists just in
this, that it restricts all inclinations, and consequently
self-esteem, by the condition of obedience to its pure law. This
restriction now has an effect on feeling, and produces the
impression of displeasure which can be known a priori from the moral
law. Since it is so far only a negative effect which, arising from the
influence of pure practical reason, checks the activity of the
subject, so far as it is determined by inclinations, and hence
checks the opinion of his personal worth (which, in the absence of
agreement with the moral law, is reduced to nothing); hence, the
effect of this law on feeling is merely humiliation. We can,
therefore, perceive this a priori, but cannot know by it the force
of the pure practical law as a motive, but only the resistance to
motives of the sensibility. But since the same law is objectively,
that is, in the conception of pure reason, an immediate principle of
determination of the will, and consequently this humiliation takes
place only relatively to the purity of the law; hence, the lowering of
the pretensions of moral self-esteem, that is, humiliation on the
sensible side, is an elevation of the moral, i.e., practical, esteem
for the law itself on the intellectual side; in a word, it is
respect for the law, and therefore, as its cause is intellectual, a
positive feeling which can be known a priori. For whatever
diminishes the obstacles to an activity furthers this activity itself.
Now the recognition of the moral law is the consciousness of an
activity of practical reason from objective principles, which only
fails to reveal its effect in actions because subjective
(pathological) causes hinder it. Respect for the moral law then must
be regarded as a positive, though indirect, effect of it on feeling,
inasmuch as this respect weakens the impeding influence of
inclinations by humiliating selfesteem; and hence also as a subjective
principle of activity, that is, as a motive to obedience to the law,
and as a principle of the maxims of a life conformable to it. From the
notion of a motive arises that of an interest, which can never be
attributed to any being unless it possesses reason, and which
signifies a motive of the will in so far as it is conceived by the
reason. Since in a morally good will the law itself must be the
motive, the moral interest is a pure interest of practical reason
alone, independent of sense. On the notion of an interest is based
that of a maxim. This, therefore, is morally good only in case it
rests simply on the interest taken in obedience to the law. All
three notions, however, that of a motive, of an interest, and of a
maxim, can be applied only to finite beings. For they all suppose a
limitation of the nature of the being, in that the subjective
character of his choice does not of itself agree with the objective
law of a practical reason; they suppose that the being requires to
be impelled to action by something, because an internal obstacle
opposes itself. Therefore they cannot be applied to the Divine will.

There is something so singular in the unbounded esteem for the
pure moral law, apart from all advantage, as it is presented for our
obedience by practical reason, the voice of which makes even the
boldest sinner tremble and compels him to hide himself from it, that
we cannot wonder if we find this influence of a mere intellectual idea
on the feelings quite incomprehensible to speculative reason and
have to be satisfied with seeing so much of this a priori that such
a feeling is inseparably connected with the conception of the moral
law in every finite rational being. If this feeling of respect were
pathological, and therefore were a feeling of pleasure based on the
inner sense, it would be in vain to try to discover a connection of it
with any idea a priori. But [it] is a feeling that applies merely to
what is practical, and depends on the conception of a law, simply as
to its form, not on account of any object, and therefore cannot be
reckoned either as pleasure or pain, and yet produces an interest in
obedience to the law, which we call the moral interest, just as the
capacity of taking such an interest in the law (or respect for the
moral law itself) is properly the moral feeling.

The consciousness of a free submission of the will to the law, yet
combined with an inevitable constraint put upon all inclinations,
though only by our own reason, is respect for the law. The law that
demands this respect and inspires it is clearly no other than the
moral (for no other precludes all inclinations from exercising any
direct influence on the will). An action which is objectively
practical according to this law, to the exclusion of every determining
principle of inclination, is duty, and this by reason of that
exclusion includes in its concept practical obligation, that is, a
determination to actions, however reluctantly they may be done. The
feeling that arises from the consciousness of this obligation is not
pathological, as would be a feeling produced by an object of the
senses, but practical only, that is, it is made possible by a
preceding (objective) determination of the will and a causality of the
reason. As submission to the law, therefore, that is, as a command
(announcing constraint for the sensibly affected subject), it contains
in it no pleasure, but on the contrary, so far, pain in the action. On
the other hand, however, as this constraint is exercised merely by the
legislation of our own reason, it also contains something elevating,
and this subjective effect on feeling, inasmuch as pure practical
reason is the sole cause of it, may be called in this respect
self-approbation, since we recognize ourselves as determined thereto
solely by the law without any interest, and are now conscious of a
quite different interest subjectively produced thereby, and which is
purely practical and free; and our taking this interest in an action
of duty is not suggested by any inclination, but is commanded and
actually brought about by reason through the practical law; whence
this feeling obtains a special name, that of respect.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_3 ^paragraph 15}

The notion of duty, therefore, requires in the action,
objectively, agreement with the law, and, subjectively in its maxim,
that respect for the law shall be the sole mode in which the will is
determined thereby. And on this rests the distinction between the
consciousness of having acted according to duty and from duty, that
is, from respect for the law. The former (legality) is possible even
if inclinations have been the determining principles of the will;
but the latter (morality), moral worth, can be placed only in this,
that the action is done from duty, that is, simply for the sake of the
law. *

* If we examine accurately the notion of respect for persons as it
has been already laid down, we shall perceive that it always rests
on the consciousness of a duty which an example shows us, and that
respect, therefore. can never have any but a moral ground, and that it
is very good and even, in a psychological point of view, very useful
for the knowledge of mankind, that whenever we use this expression
we should attend to this secret and marvellous, yet often recurring,
regard which men in their judgement pay to the moral law.

It is of the greatest importance to attend with the utmost exactness
in all moral judgements to the subjective principle of all maxims,
that all the morality of actions may be placed in the necessity of
acting from duty and from respect for the law, not from love and
inclination for that which the actions are to produce. For men and all
created rational beings moral necessity is constraint, that is
obligation, and every action based on it is to be conceived as a duty,
not as a proceeding previously pleasing, or likely to be Pleasing to
us of our own accord. As if indeed we could ever bring it about that
without respect for the law, which implies fear, or at least
apprehension of transgression, we of ourselves, like the independent
Deity, could ever come into possession of holiness of will by the
coincidence of our will with the pure moral law becoming as it were
part of our nature, never to be shaken (in which case the law would
cease to be a command for us, as we could never be tempted to be
untrue to it).

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_3 ^paragraph 20}

The moral law is in fact for the will of a perfect being a law of
holiness, but for the will of every finite rational being a law of
duty, of moral constraint, and of the determination of its actions
by respect for this law and reverence for its duty. No other
subjective principle must be assumed as a motive, else while the
action might chance to be such as the law prescribes, yet, as does not
proceed from duty, the intention, which is the thing properly in
question in this legislation, is not moral.

It is a very beautiful thing to do good to men from love to them and
from sympathetic good will, or to be just from love of order; but this
is not yet the true moral maxim of our conduct which is suitable to
our position amongst rational beings as men, when we pretend with
fanciful pride to set ourselves above the thought of duty, like
volunteers, and, as if we were independent on the command, to want
to do of our own good pleasure what we think we need no command to do.
We stand under a discipline of reason and in all our maxims must not
forget our subjection to it, nor withdraw anything therefrom, or by an
egotistic presumption diminish aught of the authority of the law
(although our own reason gives it) so as to set the determining
principle of our will, even though the law be conformed to, anywhere
else but in the law itself and in respect for this law. Duty and
obligation are the only names that we must give to our relation to the
moral law. We are indeed legislative members of a moral kingdom
rendered possible by freedom, and presented to us by reason as an
object of respect; but yet we are subjects in it, not the sovereign,
and to mistake our inferior position as creatures, and
presumptuously to reject the authority of the moral law, is already to
revolt from it in spirit, even though the letter of it is fulfilled.

With this agrees very well the possibility of such a command as:
Love God above everything, and thy neighbour as thyself. * For as a
command it requires respect for a law which commands love and does not
leave it to our own arbitrary choice to make this our principle.
Love to God, however, considered as an inclination (pathological
love), is impossible, for He is not an object of the senses. The
same affection towards men is possible no doubt, but cannot be
commanded, for it is not in the power of any man to love anyone at
command; therefore it is only practical love that is meant in that
pith of all laws. To love God means, in this sense, to like to do
His commandments; to love one's neighbour means to like to practise
all duties towards him. But the command that makes this a rule
cannot command us to have this disposition in actions conformed to
duty, but only to endeavour after it. For a command to like to do a
thing is in itself contradictory, because if we already know of
ourselves what we are bound to do, and if further we are conscious
of liking to do it, a command would be quite needless; and if we do it
not willingly, but only out of respect for the law, a command that
makes this respect the motive of our maxim would directly counteract
the disposition commanded. That law of all laws, therefore, like all
the moral precepts of the Gospel, exhibits the moral disposition in
all its perfection, in which, viewed as an ideal of holiness, it is
not attainable by any creature, but yet is the pattern which we should
strive to approach, and in an uninterrupted but infinite progress
become like to. In fact, if a rational creature could ever reach
this point, that he thoroughly likes to do all moral laws, this
would mean that there does not exist in him even the possibility of
a desire that would tempt him to deviate from them; for to overcome
such a desire always costs the subject some sacrifice and therefore
requires self-compulsion, that is, inward constraint to something that
one does not quite like to do; and no creature can ever reach this
stage of moral disposition. For, being a creature, and therefore
always dependent with respect to what be requires for complete
satisfaction, he can never be quite free from desires and
inclinations, and as these rest on physical causes, they can never
of themselves coincide with the moral law, the sources of which are
quite different; and therefore they make it necessary to found the
mental disposition of one's maxims on moral obligation, not on ready
inclination, but on respect, which demands obedience to the law,
even though one may not like it; not on love, which apprehends no
inward reluctance of the will towards the law. Nevertheless, this
latter, namely, love to the law (which would then cease to be a
command, and then morality, which would have passed subjectively
into holiness, would cease to be virtue) must be the constant though
unattainable goal of his endeavours. For in the case of what we highly
esteem, but yet (on account of the consciousness of our weakness)
dread, the increased facility of satisfying it changes the most
reverential awe into inclination, and respect into love; at least this
would be the perfection of a disposition devoted to the law, if it
were possible for a creature to attain it.

* This law is in striking contrast with the principle of private
happiness which some make the supreme principle of morality. This
would be expressed thus: Love thyself above everything, and God and
thy neighbour for thine own sake.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_3 ^paragraph 25}

This reflection is intended not so much to clear up the
evangelical command just cited, in order to prevent religious
fanaticism in regard to love of God, but to define accurately the
moral disposition with regard directly to our duties towards men,
and to check, or if possible prevent, a merely moral fanaticism
which infects many persons. The stage of morality on which man (and,
as far as we can see, every rational creature) stands is respect for
the moral law. The disposition that he ought to have in obeying this
is to obey it from duty, not from spontaneous inclination, or from
an endeavour taken up from liking and unbidden; and this proper
moral condition in which he can always be is virtue, that is, moral
disposition militant, and not holiness in the fancied possession of
a perfect purity of the disposition of the will. It is nothing but
moral fanaticism and exaggerated self-conceit that is infused into the
mind by exhortation to actions as noble, sublime, and magnanimous,
by which men are led into the delusion that it is not duty, that is,
respect for the law, whose yoke (an easy yoke indeed, because reason
itself imposes it on us) they must bear, whether they like it or
not, that constitutes the determining principle of their actions,
and which always humbles them while they obey it; fancying that
those actions are expected from them, not from duty, but as pure
merit. For not only would they, in imitating such deeds from such a
principle, not have fulfilled the spirit of the law in the least,
which consists not in the legality of the action (without regard to
principle), but in the subjection of the mind to the law; not only
do they make the motives pathological (seated in sympathy or
self-love), not moral (in the law), but they produce in this way a
vain, high-flying, fantastic way of thinking, flattering themselves
with a spontaneous goodness of heart that needs neither spur nor
bridle, for which no command is needed, and thereby forgetting their
obligation, which they ought to think of rather than merit. Indeed
actions of others which are done with great sacrifice, and merely
for the sake of duty, may be praised as noble and sublime, but only so
far as there are traces which suggest that they were done wholly out
of respect for duty and not from excited feelings. If these,
however, are set before anyone as examples to be imitated, respect for
duty (which is the only true moral feeling) must be employed as the
motive- this severe holy precept which never allows our vain self-love
to dally with pathological impulses (however analogous they may be
to morality), and to take a pride in meritorious worth. Now if we
search we shall find for all actions that are worthy of praise a law
of duty which commands, and does not leave us to choose what may be
agreeable to our inclinations. This is the only way of representing
things that can give a moral training to the soul, because it alone is
capable of solid and accurately defined principles.

If fanaticism in its most general sense is a deliberate over
stepping of the limits of human reason, then moral fanaticism is
such an over stepping of the bounds that practical pure reason sets to
mankind, in that it forbids us to place the subjective determining
principle of correct actions, that is, their moral motive, in anything
but the law itself, or to place the disposition which is thereby
brought into the maxims in anything but respect for this law, and
hence commands us to take as the supreme vital principle of all
morality in men the thought of duty, which strikes down all
arrogance as well as vain self-love.

If this is so, it is not only writers of romance or sentimental
educators (although they may be zealous opponents of
sentimentalism), but sometimes even philosophers, nay, even the
severest of all, the Stoics, that have brought in moral fanaticism
instead of a sober but wise moral discipline, although the
fanaticism of the latter was more heroic, that of the former of an
insipid, effeminate character; and we may, without hypocrisy, say of
the moral teaching of the Gospel, that it first, by the purity of
its moral principle, and at the same time by its suitability to the
limitations of finite beings, brought all the good conduct of men
under the discipline of a duty plainly set before their eyes, which
does not permit them to indulge in dreams of imaginary moral
perfections; and that it also set the bounds of humility (that is,
self-knowledge) to self-conceit as well as to self-love, both which
are ready to mistake their limits.

Duty! Thou sublime and mighty name that dost embrace nothing
charming or insinuating, but requirest submission, and yet seekest not
to move the will by threatening aught that would arouse natural
aversion or terror, but merely holdest forth a law which of itself
finds entrance into the mind, and yet gains reluctant reverence
(though not always obedience), a law before which all inclinations are
dumb, even though they secretly counter-work it; what origin is
there worthy of thee, and where is to be found the root of thy noble
descent which proudly rejects all kindred with the inclinations; a
root to be derived from which is the indispensable condition of the
only worth which men can give themselves?

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_3 ^paragraph 30}

It can be nothing less than a power which elevates man above himself
(as a part of the world of sense), a power which connects him with
an order of things that only the understanding can conceive, with a
world which at the same time commands the whole sensible world, and
with it the empirically determinable existence of man in time, as well
as the sum total of all ends (which totality alone suits such
unconditional practical laws as the moral). This power is nothing
but personality, that is, freedom and independence on the mechanism of
nature, yet, regarded also as a faculty of a being which is subject to
special laws, namely, pure practical laws given by its own reason;
so that the person as belonging to the sensible world is subject to
his own personality as belonging to the intelligible [supersensible]
world. It is then not to be wondered at that man, as belonging to both
worlds, must regard his own nature in reference to its second and
highest characteristic only with reverence, and its laws with the
highest respect.

On this origin are founded many expressions which designate the
worth of objects according to moral ideas. The moral law is holy
(inviolable). Man is indeed unholy enough, but he must regard humanity
in his own person as holy. In all creation every thing one chooses and
over which one has any power, may be used merely as means; man
alone, and with him every rational creature, is an end in himself.
By virtue of the autonomy of his freedom he is the subject of the
moral law, which is holy. just for this reason every will, even
every person's own individual will, in relation to itself, is
restricted to the condition of agreement with the autonomy of the
rational being, that is to say, that it is not to be subject to any
purpose which cannot accord with a law which might arise from the will
of the passive subject himself; the latter is, therefore, never to
be employed merely as means, but as itself also, concurrently, an end.
We justly attribute this condition even to the Divine will, with
regard to the rational beings in the world, which are His creatures,
since it rests on their personality, by which alone they are ends in

This respect-inspiring idea of personality which sets before our
eyes the sublimity of our nature (in its higher aspect), while at
the same time it shows us the want of accord of our conduct with it
and thereby strikes down self-conceit, is even natural to the
commonest reason and easily observed. Has not every even moderately
honourable man sometimes found that, where by an otherwise inoffensive
lie he might either have withdrawn himself from an unpleasant
business, or even have procured some advantages for a loved and
well-deserving friend, he has avoided it solely lest he should despise
himself secretly in his own eyes? When an upright man is in the
greatest distress, which he might have avoided if he could only have
disregarded duty, is he not sustained by the consciousness that he has
maintained humanity in its proper dignity in his own person and
honoured it, that he has no reason to be ashamed of himself in his own
sight, or to dread the inward glance of self-examination? This
consolation is not happiness, it is not even the smallest part of
it, for no one would wish to have occasion for it, or would,
perhaps, even desire a life in such circumstances. But he lives, and
he cannot endure that he should be in his own eyes unworthy of life.
This inward peace is therefore merely negative as regards what can
make life pleasant; it is, in fact, only the escaping the danger of
sinking in personal worth, after everything else that is valuable
has been lost. It is the effect of a respect for something quite
different from life, something in comparison and contrast with which
life with all its enjoyment has no value. He still lives only
because it is his duty, not because he finds anything pleasant in

Such is the nature of the true motive of pure practical reason; it
is no other than the pure moral law itself, inasmuch as it makes us
conscious of the sublimity of our own supersensible existence and
subjectively produces respect for their higher nature in men who are
also conscious of their sensible existence and of the consequent
dependence of their pathologically very susceptible nature. Now with
this motive may be combined so many charms and satisfactions of life
that even on this account alone the most prudent choice of a
rational Epicurean reflecting on the greatest advantage of life
would declare itself on the side of moral conduct, and it may even
be advisable to join this prospect of a cheerful enjoyment of life
with that supreme motive which is already sufficient of itself; but
only as a counterpoise to the attractions which vice does not fail
to exhibit on the opposite side, and not so as, even in the smallest
degree, to place in this the proper moving power when duty is in
question. For that would be just the same as to wish to taint the
purity of the moral disposition in its source. The majesty of duty has
nothing to do with enjoyment of life; it has its special law and its
special tribunal, and though the two should be never so well shaken
together to be given well mixed, like medicine, to the sick soul,
yet they will soon separate of themselves; and if they do not, the
former will not act; and although physical life might gain somewhat in
force, the moral life would fade away irrecoverably.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_3 ^paragraph 35}

Critical Examination of the Analytic of Pure Practical Reason.

By the critical examination of a science, or of a portion of it,
which constitutes a system by itself, I understand the inquiry and
proof why it must have this and no other systematic form, when we
compare it with another system which is based on a similar faculty
of knowledge. Now practical and speculative reason are based on the
same faculty, so far as both are pure reason. Therefore the difference
in their systematic form must be determined by the comparison of both,
and the ground of this must be assigned.

The Analytic of pure theoretic reason had to do with the knowledge
of such objects as may have been given to the understanding, and was
obliged therefore to begin from intuition and consequently (as this is
always sensible) from sensibility; and only after that could advance
to concepts (of the objects of this intuition), and could only end
with principles after both these had preceded. On the contrary,
since practical reason has not to do with objects so as to know
them, but with its own faculty of realizing them (in accordance with
the knowledge of them), that is, with a will which is a causality,
inasmuch as reason contains its determining principle; since,
consequently, it has not to furnish an object of intuition, but as
practical reason has to furnish only a law (because the notion of
causality always implies the reference to a law which determines the
existence of the many in relation to one another); hence a critical
examination of the Analytic of reason, if this is to be practical
reason (and this is properly the problem), must begin with the
possibility of practical principles a priori. Only after that can it
proceed to concepts of the objects of a practical reason, namely,
those of absolute good and evil, in order to assign them in accordance
with those principles (for prior to those principles they cannot
possibly be given as good and evil by any faculty of knowledge), and
only then could the section be concluded with the last chapter,
that, namely, which treats of the relation of the pure practical
reason to the sensibility and of its necessary influence thereon,
which is a priori cognisable, that is, of the moral sentiment. Thus
the Analytic of the practical pure reason has the whole extent of
the conditions of its use in common with the theoretical, but in
reverse order. The Analytic of pure theoretic reason was divided
into transcendental Aesthetic and transcendental Logic, that of the
practical reversely into Logic and Aesthetic of pure practical
reason (if I may, for the sake of analogy merely, use these
designations, which are not quite suitable). This logic again was
there divided into the Analytic of concepts and that of principles:
here into that of principles and concepts. The Aesthetic also had in
the former case two parts, on account of the two kinds of sensible
intuition; here the sensibility is not considered as a capacity of
intuition at all, but merely as feeling (which can be a subjective
ground of desire), and in regard to it pure practical reason admits no
further division.

It is also easy to see the reason why this division into two parts
with its subdivision was not actually adopted here (as one might
have been induced to attempt by the example of the former critique).
For since it is pure reason that is here considered in its practical
use, and consequently as proceeding from a priori principles, and
not from empirical principles of determination, hence the division
of the analytic of pure practical reason must resemble that of a
syllogism; namely, proceeding from the universal in the major
premiss (the moral principle), through a minor premiss containing a
subsumption of possible actions (as good or evil) under the former, to
the conclusion, namely, the subjective determination of the will (an
interest in the possible practical good, and in the maxim founded on
it). He who has been able to convince himself of the truth of the
positions occurring in the Analytic will take pleasure in such
comparisons; for they justly suggest the expectation that we may
perhaps some day be able to discern the unity of the whole faculty
of reason (theoretical as well as practical) and be able to derive all
from one principle, which, is what human reason inevitably demands, as
it finds complete satisfaction only in a perfectly systematic unity of
its knowledge.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_3 ^paragraph 40}

If now we consider also the contents of the knowledge that we can
have of a pure practical reason, and by means of it, as shown by the
Analytic, we find, along with a remarkable analogy between it and
the theoretical, no less remarkable differences. As regards the
theoretical, the faculty of a pure rational cognition a priori could
be easily and evidently proved by examples from sciences (in which, as
they put their principles to the test in so many ways by methodical
use, there is not so much reason as in common knowledge to fear a
secret mixture of empirical principles of cognition). But, that pure
reason without the admixture of any empirical principle is practical
of itself, this could only be shown from the commonest practical use
of reason, by verifying the fact, that every man's natural reason
acknowledges the supreme practical principle as the supreme law of his
will- a law completely a priori and not depending on any sensible
data. It was necessary first to establish and verify the purity of its
origin, even in the judgement of this common reason, before science
could take it in hand to make use of it, as a fact, that is, prior
to all disputation about its possibility, and all the consequences
that may be drawn from it. But this circumstance may be readily
explained from what has just been said; because practical pure
reason must necessarily begin with principles, which therefore must be
the first data, the foundation of all science, and cannot be derived
from it. It was possible to effect this verification of moral
principles as principles of a pure reason quite well, and with
sufficient certainty, by a single appeal to the judgement of common
sense, for this reason, that anything empirical which might slip
into our maxims as a determining principle of the will can be detected
at once by the feeling of pleasure or pain which necessarily
attaches to it as exciting desire; whereas pure practical reason
positively refuses to admit this feeling into its principle as a
condition. The heterogeneity of the determining principles (the
empirical and rational) is clearly detected by this resistance of a
practically legislating reason against every admixture of inclination,
and by a peculiar kind of sentiment, which, however, does not
precede the legislation of the practical reason, but, on the contrary,
is produced by this as a constraint, namely, by the feeling of a
respect such as no man has for inclinations of whatever kind but for
the law only; and it is detected in so marked and prominent a manner
that even the most uninstructed cannot fail to see at once in an
example presented to him, that empirical principles of volition may
indeed urge him to follow their attractions, but that he can never
be expected to obey anything but the pure practical law of reason

The distinction between the doctrine of happiness and the doctrine
of morality, in the former of which empirical principles constitute
the entire foundation, while in the second they do not form the
smallest part of it, is the first and most important office of the
Analytic of pure practical reason; and it must proceed in it with as
much exactness and, so to speak, scrupulousness, as any geometer in
his work. The philosopher, however, has greater difficulties to
contend with here (as always in rational cognition by means of
concepts merely without construction), because he cannot take any
intuition as a foundation (for a pure noumenon). He has, however, this
advantage that, like the chemist, he can at any time make an
experiment with every man's practical reason for the purpose of
distinguishing the moral (pure) principle of determination from the
empirical; namely, by adding the moral law (as a determining
principle) to the empirically affected will (e.g., that of the man who
would be ready to lie because he can gain something thereby). It is as
if the analyst added alkali to a solution of lime in hydrochloric
acid, the acid at once forsakes the lime, combines with the alkali,
and the lime is precipitated. just in the same way, if to a man who is
otherwise honest (or who for this occasion places himself only in
thought in the position of an honest man), we present the moral law by
which he recognises the worthlessness of the liar, his practical
reason (in forming a judgement of what ought to be done) at once
forsakes the advantage, combines with that which maintains in him
respect for his own person (truthfulness), and the advantage after
it has been separated and washed from every particle of reason
(which is altogether on the side of duty) is easily weighed by
everyone, so that it can enter into combination with reason in other
cases, only not where it could be opposed to the moral law, which
reason never forsakes, but most closely unites itself with.

But it does not follow that this distinction between the principle
of happiness and that of morality is an opposition between them, and
pure practical reason does not require that we should renounce all
claim to happiness, but only that the moment duty is in question we
should take no account of happiness. It may even in certain respects
be a duty to provide for happiness; partly, because (including
skill, wealth, riches) it contains means for the fulfilment of our
duty; partly, because the absence of it (e.g., poverty) implies
temptations to transgress our duty. But it can never be an immediate
duty to promote our happiness, still less can it be the principle of
all duty. Now, as all determining principles of the will, except the
law of pure practical reason alone (the moral law), are all
empirical and, therefore, as such, belong to the principle of
happiness, they must all be kept apart from the supreme principle of
morality and never be incorporated with it as a condition; since
this would be to destroy all moral worth just as much as any empirical
admixture with geometrical principles would destroy the certainty of
mathematical evidence, which in Plato's opinion is the most
excellent thing in mathematics, even surpassing their utility.

Instead, however, of the deduction of the supreme principle of
pure practical reason, that is, the explanation of the possibility
of such a knowledge a priori, the utmost we were able to do was to
show that if we saw the possibility of the freedom of an efficient
cause, we should also see not merely the possibility, but even the
necessity, of the moral law as the supreme practical law of rational
beings, to whom we attribute freedom of causality of their will;
because both concepts are so inseparably united that we might define
practical freedom as independence of the will on anything but the
moral law. But we cannot perceive the possibility of the freedom of an
efficient cause, especially in the world of sense; we are fortunate if
only we can be sufficiently assured that there is no proof of its
impossibility, and are now, by the moral law which postulates it,
compelled and therefore authorized to assume it. However, there are
still many who think that they can explain this freedom on empirical
principles, like any other physical faculty, and treat it as a
psychological property, the explanation of which only requires a
more exact study of the nature of the soul and of the motives of the
will, and not as a transcendental predicate of the causality of a
being that belongs to the world of sense (which is really the
point). They thus deprive us of the grand revelation which we obtain
through practical reason by means of the moral law, the revelation,
namely, of a supersensible world by the realization of the otherwise
transcendent concept of freedom, and by this deprive us also of the
moral law itself, which admits no empirical principle of
determination. Therefore it will be necessary to add something here as
a protection against this delusion and to exhibit empiricism in its
naked superficiality.

The notion of causality as physical necessity, in opposition to
the same notion as freedom, concerns only the existence of things so
far as it is determinable in time, and, consequently, as phenomena, in
opposition to their causality as things in themselves. Now if we
take the attributes of existence of things in time for attributes of
things in themselves (which is the common view), then it is impossible
to reconcile the necessity of the causal relation with freedom; they
are contradictory. For from the former it follows that every event,
and consequently every action that takes place at a certain point of
time, is a necessary result of what existed in time preceding. Now
as time past is no longer in my power, hence every action that I
perform must be the necessary result of certain determining grounds
which are not in my power, that is, at the moment in which I am acting
I am never free. Nay, even if I assume that my whole existence is
independent on any foreign cause (for instance, God), so that the
determining principles of my causality, and even of my whole
existence, were not outside myself, yet this would not in the least
transform that physical necessity into freedom. For at every moment of
time I am still under the necessity of being determined to action by
that which is not in my power, and the series of events infinite a
parte priori, which I only continue according to a pre-determined
order and could never begin of myself, would be a continuous
physical chain, and therefore my causality would never be freedom.

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_3 ^paragraph 45}

If, then, we would attribute freedom to a being whose existence is
determined in time, we cannot except him from the law of necessity
as to all events in his existence and, consequently, as to his actions
also; for that would be to hand him over to blind chance. Now as
this law inevitably applies to all the causality of things, so far
as their existence is determinable in time, it follows that if this
were the mode in which we had also to conceive the existence of
these things in themselves, freedom must be rejected as a vain and
impossible conception. Consequently, if we would still save it, no
other way remains but to consider that the existence of a thing, so
far as it is determinable in time, and therefore its causality,
according to the law of physical necessity, belong to appearance,
and to attribute freedom to the same being as a thing in itself.
This is certainly inevitable, if we would retain both these
contradictory concepts together; but in application, when we try to
explain their combination in one and the same action, great
difficulties present themselves which seem to render such a
combination impracticable.

When I say of a man who commits a theft that, by the law of
causality, this deed is a necessary result of the determining causes
in preceding time, then it was impossible that it could not have
happened; how then can the judgement, according to the moral law, make
any change, and suppose that it could have been omitted, because the
law says that it ought to have been omitted; that is, how can a man be
called quite free at the same moment, and with respect to the same
action in which he is subject to an inevitable physical necessity?
Some try to evade this by saying that the causes that determine his
causality are of such a kind as to agree with a comparative notion
of freedom. According to this, that is sometimes called a free effect,
the determining physical cause of which lies within the acting thing
itself, e.g., that which a projectile performs when it is in free
motion, in which case we use the word freedom, because while it is
in flight it is not urged by anything external; or as we call the
motion of a clock a free motion, because it moves its hands itself,
which therefore do not require to be pushed by external force; so
although the actions of man are necessarily determined by causes which
precede in time, we yet call them free, because these causes are ideas
produced by our own faculties, whereby desires are evoked on
occasion of circumstances, and hence actions are wrought according
to our own pleasure. This is a wretched subterfuge with which some
persons still let themselves be put off, and so think they have
solved, with a petty word- jugglery, that difficult problem, at the
solution of which centuries have laboured in vain, and which can
therefore scarcely be found so completely on the surface. In fact,
in the question about the freedom which must be the foundation of
all moral laws and the consequent responsibility, it does not matter
whether the principles which necessarily determine causality by a
physical law reside within the subject or without him, or in the
former case whether these principles are instinctive or are
conceived by reason, if, as is admitted by these men themselves, these
determining ideas have the ground of their existence in time and in
the antecedent state, and this again in an antecedent, etc. Then it
matters not that these are internal; it matters not that they have a
psychological and not a mechanical causality, that is, produce actions
by means of ideas and not by bodily movements; they are still
determining principles of the causality of a being whose existence
is determinable in time, and therefore under the necessitation of
conditions of past time, which therefore, when the subject has to act,
are no longer in his power. This may imply psychological freedom (if
we choose to apply this term to a merely internal chain of ideas in
the mind), but it involves physical necessity and, therefore, leaves
no room for transcendental freedom, which must be conceived as
independence on everything empirical, and, consequently, on nature
generally, whether it is an object of the internal sense considered in
time only, or of the external in time and space. Without this
freedom (in the latter and true sense), which alone is practical a
priori, no moral law and no moral imputation are possible. just for
this reason the necessity of events in time, according to the physical
law of causality, may be called the mechanism of nature, although we
do not mean by this that things which are subject to it must be really
material machines. We look here only to the necessity of the
connection of events in a time-series as it is developed according
to the physical law, whether the subject in which this development
takes place is called automaton materiale when the mechanical being is
moved by matter, or with Leibnitz spirituale when it is impelled by
ideas; and if the freedom of our will were no other than the latter
(say the psychological and comparative, not also transcendental,
that is, absolute), then it would at bottom be nothing better than the
freedom of a turnspit, which, when once it is wound up, accomplishes
its motions of itself.

Now, in order to remove in the supposed case the apparent
contradiction between freedom and the mechanism of nature in one and
the same action, we must remember what was said in the Critique of
Pure Reason, or what follows therefrom; viz., that the necessity of
nature, which cannot co-exist with the freedom of the subject,
appertains only to the attributes of the thing that is subject to
time-conditions, consequently only to those of the acting subject as a
phenomenon; that therefore in this respect the determining
principles of every action of the same reside in what belongs to
past time and is no longer in his power (in which must be included his
own past actions and the character that these may determine for him in
his own eyes as a phenomenon). But the very same subject, being on the
other side conscious of himself as a thing in himself, considers his
existence also in so far as it is not subject to time-conditions,
and regards himself as only determinable by laws which he gives
himself through reason; and in this his existence nothing is
antecedent to the determination of his will, but every action, and
in general every modification of his existence, varying according to
his internal sense, even the whole series of his existence as a
sensible being is in the consciousness of his supersensible
existence nothing but the result, and never to be regarded as the
determining principle, of his causality as a noumenon. In this view
now the rational being can justly say of every unlawful action that he
performs, that he could very well have left it undone; although as
appearance it is sufficiently determined in the past, and in this
respect is absolutely necessary; for it, with all the past which
determines it, belongs to the one single phenomenon of his character
which he makes for himself, in consequence of which he imputes the
causality of those appearances to himself as a cause independent of

With this agree perfectly the judicial sentences of that wonderful
faculty in us which we call conscience. A man may use as much art as
he likes in order to paint to himself an unlawful act, that he
remembers, as an unintentional error, a mere oversight, such as one
can never altogether avoid, and therefore as something in which he was
carried away by the stream of physical necessity, and thus to make
himself out innocent, yet he finds that the advocate who speaks in his
favour can by no means silence the accuser within, if only he is
conscious that at the time when he did this wrong he was in his
senses, that is, in possession of his freedom; and, nevertheless, he
accounts for his error from some bad habits, which by gradual
neglect of attention he has allowed to grow upon him to such a
degree that he can regard his error as its natural consequence,
although this cannot protect him from the blame and reproach which
he casts upon himself. This is also the ground of repentance for a
long past action at every recollection of it; a painful feeling
produced by the moral sentiment, and which is practically void in so
far as it cannot serve to undo what has been done. (Hence Priestley,
as a true and consistent fatalist, declares it absurd, and he deserves
to be commended for this candour more than those who, while they
maintain the mechanism of the will in fact, and its freedom in words
only, yet wish it to be thought that they include it in their system
of compromise, although they do not explain the possibility of such
moral imputation.) But the pain is quite legitimate, because when
the law of our intelligible [supersensible] existence (the moral
law) is in question, reason recognizes no distinction of time, and
only asks whether the event belongs to me, as my act, and then
always morally connects the same feeling with it, whether it has
happened just now or long ago. For in reference to the supersensible
consciousness of its existence (i.e., freedom) the life of sense is
but a single phenomenon, which, inasmuch as it contains merely
manifestations of the mental disposition with regard to the moral
law (i.e., of the character), must be judged not according to the
physical necessity that belongs to it as phenomenon, but according
to the absolute spontaneity of freedom. It may therefore be admitted
that, if it were possible to have so profound an insight into a
man's mental character as shown by internal as well as external
actions as to know all its motives, even the smallest, and likewise
all the external occasions that can influence them, we could calculate
a man's conduct for the future with as great certainty as a lunar or
solar eclipse; and nevertheless we may maintain that the man is
free. In fact, if we were capable of a further glance, namely, an
intellectual intuition of the same subject (which indeed is not
granted to us, and instead of it we have only the rational concept),
then we should perceive that this whole chain of appearances in regard
to all that concerns the moral laws depends on the spontaneity of
the subject as a thing in itself, of the determination of which no
physical explanation can be given. In default of this intuition, the
moral law assures us of this distinction between the relation of our
actions as appearance to our sensible nature, and the relation of this
sensible nature to the supersensible substratum in us. In this view,
which is natural to our reason, though inexplicable, we can also
justify some judgements which we passed with all conscientiousness,
and which yet at first sight seem quite opposed to all equity. There
are cases in which men, even with the same education which has been
profitable to others, yet show such early depravity, and so continue
to progress in it to years of manhood, that they are thought to be
born villains, and their character altogether incapable of
improvement; and nevertheless they are judged for what they do or
leave undone, they are reproached for their faults as guilty; nay,
they themselves (the children) regard these reproaches as well
founded, exactly as if in spite of the hopeless natural quality of
mind ascribed to them, they remained just as responsible as any
other man. This could not happen if we did not suppose that whatever
springs from a man's choice (as every action intentionally performed
undoubtedly does) has as its foundation a free causality, which from
early youth expresses its character in its manifestations (i.e.,
actions). These, on account of the uniformity of conduct, exhibit a
natural connection, which however does not make the vicious quality of
the will necessary, but on the contrary, is the consequence of the
evil principles voluntarily adopted and unchangeable, which only
make it so much the more culpable and deserving of punishment. There
still remains a difficulty in the combination of freedom with the
mechanism of nature in a being belonging to the world of sense; a
difficulty which, even after all the foregoing is admitted,
threatens freedom with complete destruction. But with this danger
there is also a circumstance that offers hope of an issue still
favourable to freedom; namely, that the same difficulty presses much
more strongly (in fact as we shall presently see, presses only) on the
system that holds the existence determinable in time and space to be
the existence of things in themselves; it does not therefore oblige us
to give up our capital supposition of the ideality of time as a mere
form of sensible intuition, and consequently as a mere manner of
representation which is proper to the subject as belonging to the
world of sense; and therefore it only requires that this view be
reconciled with this idea.

The difficulty is as follows: Even if it is admitted that the
supersensible subject can be free with respect to a given action,
although, as a subject also belonging to the world of sense, he is
under mechanical conditions with respect to the same action, still, as
soon as we allow that God as universal first cause is also the cause
of the existence of substance (a proposition which can never be
given up without at the same time giving up the notion of God as the
Being of all beings, and therewith giving up his all sufficiency, on
which everything in theology depends), it seems as if we must admit
that a man's actions have their determining principle in something
which is wholly out of his power- namely, in the causality of a
Supreme Being distinct from himself and on whom his own existence
and the whole determination of his causality are absolutely dependent.
In point of fact, if a man's actions as belonging to his modifications
in time were not merely modifications of him as appearance, but as a
thing in itself, freedom could not be saved. Man would be a marionette
or an automaton, like Vaucanson's, prepared and wound up by the
Supreme Artist. Self-consciousness would indeed make him a thinking
automaton; but the consciousness of his own spontaneity would be
mere delusion if this were mistaken for freedom, and it would
deserve this name only in a comparative sense, since, although the
proximate determining causes of its motion and a long series of
their determining causes are internal, yet the last and highest is
found in a foreign hand. Therefore I do not see how those who still
insist on regarding time and space as attributes belonging to the
existence of things in themselves, can avoid admitting the fatality of
actions; or if (like the otherwise acute Mendelssohn) they allow
them to be conditions necessarily belonging to the existence of finite
and derived beings, but not to that of the infinite Supreme Being, I
do not see on what ground they can justify such a distinction, or,
indeed, how they can avoid the contradiction that meets them, when
they hold that existence in time is an attribute necessarily belonging
to finite things in themselves, whereas God is the cause of this
existence, but cannot be the cause of time (or space) itself (since
this must be presupposed as a necessary a priori condition of the
existence of things); and consequently as regards the existence of
these things. His causality must be subject to conditions and even
to the condition of time; and this would inevitably bring in
everything contradictory to the notions of His infinity and
independence. On the other hand, it is quite easy for us to draw the
distinction between the attribute of the divine existence of being
independent on all time-conditions, and that of a being of the world
of sense, the distinction being that between the existence of a
being in itself and that of a thing in appearance. Hence, if this
ideality of time and space is not adopted, nothing remains but
Spinozism, in which space and time are essential attributes of the
Supreme Being Himself, and the things dependent on Him (ourselves,
therefore, included) are not substances, but merely accidents inhering
in Him; since, if these things as His effects exist in time only, this
being the condition of their existence in themselves, then the actions
of these beings must be simply His actions which He performs in some
place and time. Thus, Spinozism, in spite of the absurdity of its
fundamental idea, argues more consistently than the creation theory
can, when beings assumed to be substances, and beings in themselves
existing in time, are regarded as effects of a Supreme Cause, and
yet as not [belonging] to Him and His action, but as separate

{BOOK_1|CHAPTER_3 ^paragraph 50}

The above-mentioned difficulty is resolved briefly and clearly as
follows: If existence in time is a mere sensible mode of
representation belonging to thinking beings in the world and
consequently does not apply to them as things in themselves, then
the creation of these beings is a creation of things in themselves,
since the notion of creation does not belong to the sensible form of
representation of existence or to causality, but can only be
referred to noumena. Consequently, when I say of beings in the world
of sense that they are created, I so far regard them as noumena. As it
would be a contradiction, therefore, to say that God is a creator of
appearances, so also it is a contradiction to say that as creator He
is the cause of actions in the world of sense, and therefore as
appearances, although He is the cause of the existence of the acting
beings (which are noumena). If now it is possible to affirm freedom in
spite of the natural mechanism of actions as appearances (by regarding
existence in time as something that belongs only to appearances, not
to things in themselves), then the circumstance that the acting beings
are creatures cannot make the slightest difference, since creation
concerns their supersensible and not their sensible existence, and,
therefore, cannot be regarded as the determining principle of the
appearances. It would be quite different if the beings in the world as
things in themselves existed in time, since in that case the creator
of substance would be at the same time the author of the whole
mechanism of this substance.

Of so great importance is the separation of time (as well as
space) from the existence of things in themselves which was effected
in the Critique of the Pure Speculative Reason.

It may be said that the solution here proposed involves great
difficulty in itself and is scarcely susceptible of a lucid
exposition. But is any other solution that has been attempted, or that
may be attempted, easier and more intelligible? Rather might we say
that the dogmatic teachers of metaphysics have shown more shrewdness
than candour in keeping this difficult point out of sight as much as
possible, in the hope that if they said nothing about it, probably
no one would think of it. If science is to be advanced, all
difficulties must be laid open, and we must even search for those that
are hidden, for every difficulty calls forth a remedy, which cannot be
discovered without science gaining either in extent or in exactness;
and thus even obstacles become means of increasing the thoroughness of
science. On the other hand, if the difficulties are intentionally
concealed, or merely removed by palliatives, then sooner or later they
burst out into incurable mischiefs, which bring science to ruin in
an absolute scepticism.

Since it is, properly speaking, the notion of freedom alone
amongst all the ideas of pure speculative reason that so greatly
enlarges our knowledge in the sphere of the supersensible, though only
of our practical knowledge, I ask myself why it exclusively
possesses so great fertility, whereas the others only designate the
vacant space for possible beings of the pure understanding, but are
unable by any means to define the concept of them. I presently find
that as I cannot think anything without a category, I must first
look for a category for the rational idea of freedom with which I am
now concerned; and this is the category of causality; and although
freedom, a concept of the reason, being a transcendent concept, cannot
have any intuition corresponding to it, yet the concept of the
understanding- for the synthesis of which the former demands the
unconditioned- (namely, the concept of causality) must have a sensible
intuition given, by which first its objective reality is assured. Now,
the categories are all divided into two classes- the mathematical,
which concern the unity of synthesis in the conception of objects, and
the dynamical, which refer to the unity of synthesis in the conception
of the existence of objects. The former (those of magnitude and
quality) always contain a synthesis of the homogeneous, and it is
not possible to find in this the unconditioned antecedent to what is
given in sensible intuition as conditioned in space and time, as
this would itself have to belong to space and time, and therefore be
again still conditioned. Whence it resulted in the Dialectic of Pure
Theoretic Reason that the opposite methods of attaining the
unconditioned and the totality of the conditions were both wrong.
The categories of the second class (those of causality and of the
necessity of a thing) did not require this homogeneity (of the
conditioned and the condition in synthesis), since here what we have
to explain is not how the intuition is compounded from a manifold in
it, but only how the existence of the conditioned object corresponding
to it is added to the existence of the condition (added, namely, in
the understanding as connected therewith); and in that case it was
allowable to suppose in the supersensible world the unconditioned
antecedent to the altogether conditioned in the world of sense (both
as regards the causal connection and the contingent existence of
things themselves), although this unconditioned remained
indeterminate, and to make the synthesis transcendent. Hence, it was
found in the Dialectic of the Pure Speculative Reason that the two
apparently opposite methods of obtaining for the conditioned the
unconditioned were not really contradictory, e.g., in the synthesis of
causality to conceive for the conditioned in the series of causes
and effects of the sensible world, a causality which has no sensible
condition, and that the same action which, as belonging to the world
of sense, is always sensibly conditioned, that is, mechanically
necessary, yet at the same time may be derived from a causality not
sensibly conditioned- being the causality of the acting being as
belonging to the supersensible world- and may consequently be
conceived as free. Now, the only point in question was to change
this may be into is; that is, that we should be able to show in an
actual case, as it were by a fact, that certain actions imply such a
causality (namely, the intellectual, sensibly unconditioned),
whether they are actual or only commanded, that is, objectively
necessary in a practical sense. We could not hope to find this
connections in actions actually given in experience as events of the
sensible world, since causality with freedom must always be sought
outside the world of sense in the world of intelligence. But things of
sense of sense in the world of intelligence. But things of sense are
the only things offered to our perception and observation. Hence,
nothing remained but to find an incontestable objective principle of
causality which excludes all sensible conditions: that is, a principle
in which reason does not appeal further to something else as a
determining ground of its causality, but contains this determining
ground itself by means of that principle, and in which therefore it is
itself as pure reason practical. Now, this principle had not to be
searched for or discovered; it had long been in the reason of all men,
and incorporated in their nature, and is the principle of morality.
Therefore, that unconditioned causality, with the faculty of it,
namely, freedom, is no longer merely indefinitely and
problematically thought (this speculative reason could prove to be
feasible), but is even as regards the law of its causality
definitely and assertorially known; and with it the fact that a
being (I myself), belonging to the world of sense, belongs also to the
supersensible world, this is also positively known, and thus the
reality of the supersensible world is established and in practical
respects definitely given, and this definiteness, which for
theoretical purposes would be transcendent, is for practical
purposes immanent. We could not, however, make a similar step as
regards the second dynamical idea, namely, that of a necessary
being. We could not rise to it from the sensible world without the aid
of the first dynamical idea. For if we attempted to do so, we should
have ventured to leave at a bound all that is given to us, and to leap
to that of which nothing is given us that can help us to effect the
connection of such a supersensible being with the world of sense
(since the necessary being would have to be known as given outside
ourselves). On the other hand, it is now obvious that this
connection is quite possible in relation to our own subject,
inasmuch as I know myself to be on the one side as an intelligible
[supersensible] being determined by the moral law (by means of
freedom), and on the other side as acting in the world of sense. It is
the concept of freedom alone that enables us to find the unconditioned
and intelligible for the conditioned and sensible without going out of
ourselves. For it is our own reason that by means of the supreme and
unconditional practical law knows that itself and the being that is
conscious of this law (our own person) belong to the pure world of
understanding, and moreover defines the manner in which, as such, it
can be active. In this way it can be understood why in the whole
faculty of reason it is the practical reason only that can help us
to pass beyond the world of sense and give us knowledge of a
supersensible order and connection, which, however, for this very
reason cannot be extended further than is necessary for pure practical

Let me be permitted on this occasion to make one more remark,
namely, that every step that we make with pure reason, even in the
practical sphere where no attention is paid to subtle speculation,
nevertheless accords with all the material points of the Critique of
the Theoretical Reason as closely and directly as if each step had
been thought out with deliberate purpose to establish this
confirmation. Such a thorough agreement, wholly unsought for and quite
obvious (as anyone can convince himself, if he will only carry moral
inquiries up to their principles), between the most important
proposition of practical reason and the often seemingly too subtle and
needless remarks of the Critique of the Speculative Reason,
occasions surprise and astonishment, and confirms the maxim already
recognized and praised by others, namely, that in every scientific
inquiry we should pursue our way steadily with all possible
exactness and frankness, without caring for any objections that may be
raised from outside its sphere, but, as far as we can, to carry out
our inquiry truthfully and completely by itself. Frequent
observation has convinced me that, when such researches are concluded,
that which in one part of them appeared to me very questionable,
considered in relation to other extraneous doctrines, when I left this
doubtfulness out of sight for a time and only attended to the business
in hand until it was completed, at last was unexpectedly found to
agree perfectly with what had been discovered separately without the
least regard to those doctrines, and without any partiality or
prejudice for them. Authors would save themselves many errors and much
labour lost (because spent on a delusion) if they could only resolve
to go to work with more frankness.


BOOK II. Dialectic of Pure Practical Reason.

CHAPTER I. Of a Dialectic of Pure Practical Reason Generally.

Pure reason always has its dialetic, whether it is considered in its
speculative or its practical employment; for it requires the
absolute totality of the 'conditions of what is given conditioned, and
this can only be found in things in themselves. But as all conceptions
of things in themselves must be referred to intuitions, and with us
men these can never be other than sensible and hence can never
enable us to know objects as things in themselves but only as
appearances, and since the unconditioned can never be found in this
chain of appearances which consists only of conditioned and
conditions; thus from applying this rational idea of the totality of
the conditions (in other words of the unconditioned) to appearances,
there arises an inevitable illusion, as if these latter were things in
themselves (for in the absence of a warning critique they are always
regarded as such). This illusion would never be noticed as delusive if
it did not betray itself by a conflict of reason with itself, when
it applies to appearances its fundamental principle of presupposing
the unconditioned to everything conditioned. By this, however,
reason is compelled to trace this illusion to its source, and search
how it can be removed, and this can only be done by a complete
critical examination of the whole pure faculty of reason; so that
the antinomy of the pure reason which is manifest in its dialectic
is in fact the most beneficial error into which human reason could
ever have fallen, since it at last drives us to search for the key
to escape from this labyrinth; and when this key is found, it
further discovers that which we did not seek but yet had need of,
namely, a view into a higher and an immutable order of things, in
which we even now are, and in which we are thereby enabled by definite
precepts to continue to live according to the highest dictates of

It may be seen in detail in the Critique of Pure Reason how in its
speculative employment this natural dialectic is to be solved, and how
the error which arises from a very natural illusion may be guarded
against. But reason in its practical use is not a whit better off.
As pure practical reason, it likewise seeks to find the
unconditioned for the practically conditioned (which rests on
inclinations and natural wants), and this is not as the determining
principle of the will, but even when this is given (in the moral
law) it seeks the unconditioned totality of the object of pure
practical reason under the name of the summum bonum.

To define this idea practically, i.e., sufficiently for the maxims
of our rational conduct, is the business of practical wisdom, and this
again as a science is philosophy, in the sense in which the word was
understood by the ancients, with whom it meant instruction in the
conception in which the summum bonum was to be placed, and the conduct
by which it was to be obtained. It would be well to leave this word in
its ancient signification as a doctrine of the summum bonum, so far as
reason endeavours to make this into a science. For on the one band the
restriction annexed would suit the Greek expression (which signifies
the love of wisdom), and yet at the same time would be sufficient to
embrace under the name of philosophy the love of science: that is to
say, of all speculative rational knowledge, so far as it is
serviceable to reason, both for that conception and also for the
practical principle determining our conduct, without letting out of
sight the main end, on account of which alone it can be called a
doctrine of practical wisdom. On the other hand, it would be no harm
to deter the self-conceit of one who ventures to claim the title of
philosopher by holding before him in the very definition a standard of
self-estimation which would very much lower his pretensions. For a
teacher of wisdom would mean something more than a scholar who has not
come so far as to guide himself, much less to guide others, with
certain expectation of attaining so high an end: it would mean a
master in the knowledge of wisdom, which implies more than a modest
man would claim for himself. Thus philosophy as well as wisdom would
always remain an ideal, which objectively is presented complete in
reason alone, while subjectively for the person it is only the goal of
his unceasing endeavours; and no one would be justified in
professing to be in possession of it so as to assume the name of
philosopher who could not also show its infallible effects in his
own person as an example (in his self-mastery and the unquestioned
interest that he takes pre-eminently in the general good), and this
the ancients also required as a condition of deserving that honourable

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_1 ^paragraph 5}

We have another preliminary remark to make respecting the
dialectic of the pure practical reason, on the point of the definition
of the summum bonum (a successful solution of which dialectic would
lead us to expect, as in case of that of the theoretical reason, the
most beneficial effects, inasmuch as the self-contradictions of pure
practical reason honestly stated, and not concealed, force us to
undertake a complete critique of this faculty).

The moral law is the sole determining principle of a pure will.
But since this is merely formal (viz., as prescribing only the form of
the maxim as universally legislative), it abstracts as a determining
principle from all matter that is to say, from every object of
volition. Hence, though the summum bonum may be the whole object of
a pure practical reason, i.e., a pure will, yet it is not on that
account to be regarded as its determining principle; and the moral law
alone must be regarded as the principle on which that and its
realization or promotion are aimed at. This remark is important in
so delicate a case as the determination of moral principles, where the
slightest misinterpretation perverts men's minds. For it will have
been seen from the Analytic that, if we assume any object under the
name of a good as a determining principle of the will prior to the
moral law and then deduce from it the supreme practical principle,
this would always introduce heteronomy and crush out the moral

It is, however, evident that if the notion of the summum bonum
includes that of the moral law as its supreme condition, then the
summum bonum would not merely be an object, but the notion of it and
the conception of its existence as possible by our own practical
reason would likewise be the determining principle of the will,
since in that case the will is in fact determined by the moral law
which is already included in this conception, and by no other
object, as the principle of autonomy requires. This order of the
conceptions of determination of the will must not be lost sight of, as
otherwise we should misunderstand ourselves and think we had fallen
into a contradiction, while everything remains in perfect harmony.


CHAPTER II. Of the Dialectic of Pure Reason in defining the

Conception of the "Summum Bonum".

The conception of the summum itself contains an ambiguity which
might occasion needless disputes if we did not attend to it. The
summum may mean either the supreme (supremum) or the perfect
(consummatum). The former is that condition which is itself
unconditioned, i.e., is not subordinate to any other (originarium);
the second is that whole which is not a part of a greater whole of the
same kind (perfectissimum). It has been shown in the Analytic that
virtue (as worthiness to be happy) is the supreme condition of all
that can appear to us desirable, and consequently of all our pursuit
of happiness, and is therefore the supreme good. But it does not
follow that it is the whole and perfect good as the object of the
desires of rational finite beings; for this requires happiness also,
and that not merely in the partial eyes of the person who makes
himself an end, but even in the judgement of an impartial reason,
which regards persons in general as ends in themselves. For to need
happiness, to deserve it, and yet at the same time not to
participate in it, cannot be consistent with the perfect volition of a
rational being possessed at the same time of all power, if, for the
sake of experiment, we conceive such a being. Now inasmuch as virtue
and happiness together constitute the possession of the summum bonum
in a person, and the distribution of happiness in exact proportion
to morality (which is the worth of the person, and his worthiness to
be happy) constitutes the summum bonum of a possible world; hence this
summum bonum expresses the whole, the perfect good, in which, however,
virtue as the condition is always the supreme good, since it has no
condition above it; whereas happiness, while it is pleasant to the
possessor of it, is not of itself absolutely and in all respects good,
but always presupposes morally right behaviour as its condition.

When two elements are necessarily united in one concept, they must
be connected as reason and consequence, and this either so that
their unity is considered as analytical (logical connection), or as
synthetical (real connection) the former following the law of
identity, the latter that of causality. The connection of virtue and
happiness may therefore be understood in two ways: either the
endeavour to be virtuous and the rational pursuit of happiness are not
two distinct actions, but absolutely identical, in which case no maxim
need be made the principle of the former, other than what serves for
the latter; or the connection consists in this, that virtue produces
happiness as something distinct from the consciousness of virtue, as a
cause produces an effect.

The ancient Greek schools were, properly speaking, only two, and
in determining the conception of the summum bonum these followed in
fact one and the same method, inasmuch as they did not allow virtue
and happiness to be regarded as two distinct elements of the summum
bonum, and consequently sought the unity of the principle by the
rule of identity; but they differed as to which of the two was to be
taken as the fundamental notion. The Epicurean said: "To be
conscious that one's maxims lead to happiness is virtue"; the Stoic
said: "To be conscious of one's virtue is happiness." With the former,
Prudence was equivalent to morality; with the latter, who chose a
higher designation for virtue, morality alone was true wisdom.

While we must admire the men who in such early times tried all
imaginable ways of extending the domain of philosophy, we must at
the same time lament that their acuteness was unfortunately misapplied
in trying to trace out identity between two extremely heterogeneous
notions, those of happiness and virtue. But it agrees with the
dialectical spirit of their times (and subtle minds are even now
sometimes misled in the same way) to get rid of irreconcilable
differences in principle by seeking to change them into a mere contest
about words, and thus apparently working out the identity of the
notion under different names, and this usually occurs in cases where
the combination of heterogeneous principles lies so deep or so high,
or would require so complete a transformation of the doctrines assumed
in the rest of the philosophical system, that men are afraid to
penetrate deeply into the real difference and prefer treating it as
a difference in questions of form.

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 5}

While both schools sought to trace out the identity of the practical
principles of virtue and happiness, they were not agreed as to the way
in which they tried to force this identity, but were separated
infinitely from one another, the one placing its principle on the side
of sense, the other on that of reason; the one in the consciousness of
sensible wants, the other in the independence of practical reason on
all sensible grounds of determination. According to the Epicurean, the
notion of virtue was already involved in the maxim: "To promote
one's own happiness"; according to the Stoics, on the other hand,
the feeling of happiness was already contained in the consciousness of
virtue. Now whatever is contained in another notion is identical
with part of the containing notion, but not with the whole, and
moreover two wholes may be specifically distinct, although they
consist of the same parts; namely if the parts are united into a whole
in totally different ways. The Stoic maintained that the virtue was
the whole summum bonum, and happiness only the consciousness of
possessing it, as making part of the state of the subject. The
Epicurean maintained that happiness was the whole summum bonum, and
virtue only the form of the maxim for its pursuit; viz., the
rational use of the means for attaining it.

Now it is clear from the Analytic that the maxims of virtue and
those of private happiness are quite heterogeneous as to their supreme
practical principle, and, although they belong to one summum bonum
which together they make possible, yet they are so far from coinciding
that they restrict and check one another very much in the same
subject. Thus the question: "How is the summum bonum practically
possible?" still remains an unsolved problem, notwithstanding all
the attempts at coalition that have hitherto been made. The Analytic
has, however, shown what it is that makes the problem difficult to
solve; namely, that happiness and morality are two specifically
distinct elements of the summum bonum and, therefore, their
combination cannot be analytically cognised (as if the man that
seeks his own happiness should find by mere analysis of his conception
that in so acting he is virtuous, or as if the man that follows virtue
should in the consciousness of such conduct find that he is already
happy ipso facto), but must be a synthesis of concepts. Now since this
combination is recognised as a priori, and therefore as practically
necessary, and consequently not as derived from experience, so that
the possibility of the summum bonum does not rest on any empirical
principle, it follows that the deduction [legitimation] of this
concept must be transcendental. It is a priori (morally) necessary
to produce the summum bonum by freedom of will: therefore the
condition of its possibility must rest solely on a priori principles
of cognition.

I. The Antinomy of Practical Reason.

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 10}

In the summum bonum which is practical for us, i.e., to be
realized by our will, virtue and happiness are thought as
necessarily combined, so that the one cannot be assumed by pure
practical reason without the other also being attached to it. Now this
combination (like every other) is either analytical or synthetical. It
has been shown that it cannot be analytical; it must then be
synthetical and, more particularly, must be conceived as the
connection of cause and effect, since it concerns a practical good,
i.e., one that is possible by means of action; consequently either the
desire of happiness must be the motive to maxims of virtue, or the
maxim of virtue must be the efficient cause of happiness. The first is
absolutely impossible, because (as was proved in the Analytic)
maxims which place the determining principle of the will in the desire
of personal happiness are not moral at all, and no virtue can be
founded on them. But the second is also impossible, because the
practical connection of causes and effects in the world, as the result
of the determination of the will, does not depend upon the moral
dispositions of the will, but on the knowledge of the laws of nature
and the physical power to use them for one's purposes; consequently we
cannot expect in the world by the most punctilious observance of the
moral laws any necessary connection of happiness with virtue
adequate to the summum bonum. Now, as the promotion of this summum
bonum, the conception of which contains this connection, is a priori a
necessary object of our will and inseparably attached to the moral
law, the impossibility of the former must prove the falsity of the
latter. If then the supreme good is not possible by practical rules,
then the moral law also which commands us to promote it is directed to
vain imaginary ends and must consequently be false.

II. Critical Solution of the Antinomy of Practical Reason.

The antinomy of pure speculative reason exhibits a similar
conflict between freedom and physical necessity in the causality of
events in the world. It was solved by showing that there is no real
contradiction when the events and even the world in which they occur
are regarded (as they ought to be) merely as appearances; since one
and the same acting being, as an appearance (even to his own inner
sense), has a causality in the world of sense that always conforms
to the mechanism of nature, but with respect to the same events, so
far as the acting person regards himself at the same time as a
noumenon (as pure intelligence in an existence not dependent on the
condition of time), he can contain a principle by which that causality
acting according to laws of nature is determined, but which is
itself free from all laws of nature.

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 15}

It is just the same with the foregoing antinomy of pure practical
reason. The first of the two propositions, "That the endeavour after
happiness produces a virtuous mind," is absolutely false; but the
second, "That a virtuous mind necessarily produces happiness," is
not absolutely false, but only in so far as virtue is considered as
a form of causality in the sensible world, and consequently only if
I suppose existence in it to be the only sort of existence of a
rational being; it is then only conditionally false. But as I am not
only justified in thinking that I exist also as a noumenon in a
world of the understanding, but even have in the moral law a purely
intellectual determining principle of my causality (in the sensible
world), it is not impossible that morality of mind should have a
connection as cause with happiness (as an effect in the sensible
world) if not immediate yet mediate (viz., through an intelligent
author of nature), and moreover necessary; while in a system of nature
which is merely an object of the senses, this combination could
never occur except contingently and, therefore, could not suffice
for the summum bonum.

Thus, notwithstanding this seeming conflict of practical reason with
itself, the summum bonum, which is the necessary supreme end of a will
morally determined, is a true object thereof; for it is practically
possible, and the maxims of the will which as regards their matter
refer to it have objective reality, which at first was threatened by
the antinomy that appeared in the connection of morality with
happiness by a general law; but this was merely from a
misconception, because the relation between appearances was taken
for a relation of the things in themselves to these appearances.

When we find ourselves obliged to go so far, namely, to the
connection with an intelligible world, to find the possibility of
the summum bonum, which reason points out to all rational beings as
the goal of all their moral wishes, it must seem strange that,
nevertheless, the philosophers both of ancient and modern times have
been able to find happiness in accurate proportion to virtue even in
this life (in the sensible world), or have persuaded themselves that
they were conscious thereof. For Epicurus as well as the Stoics
extolled above everything the happiness that springs from the
consciousness of living virtuously; and the former was not so base
in his practical precepts as one might infer from the principles of
his theory, which he used for explanation and not for action, or as
they were interpreted by many who were misled by his using the term
pleasure for contentment; on the contrary, he reckoned the most
disinterested practice of good amongst the ways of enjoying the most
intimate delight, and his scheme of pleasure (by which he meant
constant cheerfulness of mind) included the moderation and control
of the inclinations, such as the strictest moral philosopher might
require. He differed from the Stoics chiefly in making this pleasure
the motive, which they very rightly refused to do. For, on the one
hand, the virtuous Epicurus, like many well-intentioned men of this
day who do not reflect deeply enough on their principles, fell into
the error of presupposing the virtuous disposition in the persons
for whom he wished to provide the springs to virtue (and indeed the
upright man cannot be happy if he is not first conscious of his
uprightness; since with such a character the reproach that his habit
of thought would oblige him to make against himself in case of
transgression and his moral self-condemnation would rob him of all
enjoyment of the pleasantness which his condition might otherwise
contain). But the question is: How is such a disposition possible in
the first instance, and such a habit of thought in estimating the
worth of one's existence, since prior to it there can be in the
subject no feeling at all for moral worth? If a man is virtuous
without being conscious of his integrity in every action, he will
certainly not enjoy life, however favourable fortune may be to him
in its physical circumstances; but can we make him virtuous in the
first instance, in other words, before he esteems the moral worth of
his existence so highly, by praising to him the peace of mind that
would result from the consciousness of an integrity for which he has
no sense?

On the other hand, however, there is here an occasion of a vitium
subreptionis, and as it were of an optical illusion, in the
self-consciousness of what one does as distinguished from what one
feels- an illusion which even the most experienced cannot altogether
avoid. The moral disposition of mind is necessarily combined with a
consciousness that the will is determined directly by the law. Now the
consciousness of a determination of the faculty of desire is always
the source of a satisfaction in the resulting action; but this
pleasure, this satisfaction in oneself, is not the determining
principle of the action; on the contrary, the determination of the
will directly by reason is the source of the feeling of pleasure,
and this remains a pure practical not sensible determination of the
faculty of desire. Now as this determination has exactly the same
effect within in impelling to activity, that a feeling of the pleasure
to be expected from the desired action would have had, we easily
look on what we ourselves do as something which we merely passively
feel, and take the moral spring for a sensible impulse, just as it
happens in the so-called illusion of the senses (in this case the
inner sense). It is a sublime thing in human nature to be determined
to actions immediately by a purely rational law; sublime even is the
illusion that regards the subjective side of this capacity of
intellectual determination as something sensible and the effect of a
special sensible feeling (for an intellectual feeling would be a
contradiction). It is also of great importance to attend to this
property of our personality and as much as possible to cultivate the
effect of reason on this feeling. But we must beware lest by falsely
extolling this moral determining principle as a spring, making its
source lie in particular feelings of pleasure (which are in fact
only results), we degrade and disfigure the true genuine spring, the
law itself, by putting as it were a false foil upon it. Respect, not
pleasure or enjoyment of happiness, is something for which it is not
possible that reason should have any antecedent feeling as its
foundation (for this would always be sensible and pathological); and
consciousness of immediate obligation of the will by the law is by
no means analogous to the feeling of pleasure, although in relation to
the faculty of desire it produces the same effect, but from
different sources: it is only by this mode of conception, however,
that we can attain what we are seeking, namely, that actions be done
not merely in accordance with duty (as a result of pleasant feelings),
but from duty, which must be the true end of all moral cultivation.

Have we not, however, a word which does not express enjoyment, as
happiness does, but indicates a satisfaction in one's existence, an
analogue of the happiness which must necessarily accompany the
consciousness of virtue? Yes this word is self-contentment which in
its proper signification always designates only a negative
satisfaction in one's existence, in which one is conscious of
needing nothing. Freedom and the consciousness of it as a faculty of
following the moral law with unyielding resolution is independence
of inclinations, at least as motives determining (though not as
affecting) our desire, and so far as I am conscious of this freedom in
following my moral maxims, it is the only source of an unaltered
contentment which is necessarily connected with it and rests on no
special feeling. This may be called intellectual contentment. The
sensible contentment (improperly so-called) which rests on the
satisfaction of the inclinations, however delicate they may be
imagined to be, can never be adequate to the conception of it. For the
inclinations change, they grow with the indulgence shown them, and
always leave behind a still greater void than we had thought to
fill. Hence they are always burdensome to a rational being, and,
although he cannot lay them aside, they wrest from him the wish to
be rid of them. Even an inclination to what is right (e.g., to
beneficence), though it may much facilitate the efficacy of the
moral maxims, cannot produce any. For in these all must be directed to
the conception of the law as a determining principle, if the action is
to contain morality and not merely legality. Inclination is blind
and slavish, whether it be of a good sort or not, and, when morality
is in question, reason must not play the part merely of guardian to
inclination, but disregarding it altogether must attend simply to
its own interest as pure practical reason. This very feeling of
compassion and tender sympathy, if it precedes the deliberation on the
question of duty and becomes a determining principle, is even annoying
to right thinking persons, brings their deliberate maxims into
confusion, and makes them wish to be delivered from it and to be
subject to lawgiving reason alone.

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 20}

From this we can understand how the consciousness of this faculty of
a pure practical reason produces by action (virtue) a consciousness of
mastery over one's inclinations, and therefore of independence of
them, and consequently also of the discontent that always
accompanies them, and thus a negative satisfaction with one's state,
i.e., contentment, which is primarily contentment with one's own
person. Freedom itself becomes in this way (namely, indirectly)
capable of an enjoyment which cannot be called happiness, because it
does not depend on the positive concurrence of a feeling, nor is it,
strictly speaking, bliss, since it does not include complete
independence of inclinations and wants, but it resembles bliss in so
far as the determination of one's will at least can hold itself free
from their influence; and thus, at least in its origin, this enjoyment
is analogous to the self-sufficiency which we can ascribe only to
the Supreme Being.

From this solution of the antinomy of practical pure reason, it
follows that in practical principles we may at least conceive as
possible a natural and necessary connection between the
consciousness of morality and the expectation of a proportionate
happiness as its result, though it does not follow that we can know or
perceive this connection; that, on the other hand, principles of the
pursuit of happiness cannot possibly produce morality; that,
therefore, morality is the supreme good (as the first condition of the
summum bonum), while happiness constitutes its second element, but
only in such a way that it is the morally conditioned, but necessary
consequence of the former. Only with this subordination is the
summum bonum the whole object of pure practical reason, which must
necessarily conceive it as possible, since it commands us to
contribute to the utmost of our power to its realization. But since
the possibility of such connection of the conditioned with its
condition belongs wholly to the supersensual relation of things and
cannot be given according to the laws of the world of sense,
although the practical consequences of the idea belong to the world of
sense, namely, the actions that aim at realizing the summum bonum;
we will therefore endeavour to set forth the grounds of that
possibility, first, in respect of what is immediately in our power,
and then, secondly, in that which is not in our power, but which
reason presents to us as the supplement of our impotence, for the
realization of the summum bonum (which by practical principles is

III. Of the Primacy of Pure Practical Reason in its

Union with the Speculative Reason.

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 25}

By primacy between two or more things connected by reason, I
understand the prerogative, belonging to one, of being the first
determining principle in the connection with all the rest. In a
narrower practical sense it means the prerogative of the interest of
one in so far as the interest of the other is subordinated to it,
while it is not postponed to any other. To every faculty of the mind
we can attribute an interest, that is, a principle, that contains
the condition on which alone the former is called into exercise.
Reason, as the faculty of principles, determines the interest of all
the powers of the mind and is determined by its own. The interest of
its speculative employment consists in the cognition of the object
pushed to the highest a priori principles: that of its practical
employment, in the determination of the will in respect of the final
and complete end. As to what is necessary for the possibility of any
employment of reason at all, namely, that its principles and
affirmations should not contradict one another, this constitutes no
part of its interest, but is the condition of having reason at all; it
is only its development, not mere consistency with itself, that is
reckoned as its interest.

If practical reason could not assume or think as given anything
further than what speculative reason of itself could offer it from its
own insight, the latter would have the primacy. But supposing that
it had of itself original a priori principles with which certain
theoretical positions were inseparably connected, while these were
withdrawn from any possible insight of speculative reason (which,
however, they must not contradict); then the question is: Which
interest is the superior (not which must give way, for they are not
necessarily conflicting), whether speculative reason, which knows
nothing of all that the practical offers for its acceptance, should
take up these propositions and (although they transcend it) try to
unite them with its own concepts as a foreign possession handed over
to it, or whether it is justified in obstinately following its own
separate interest and, according to the canonic of Epicurus, rejecting
as vain subtlety everything that cannot accredit its objective reality
by manifest examples to be shown in experience, even though it
should be never so much interwoven with the interest of the
practical (pure) use of reason, and in itself not contradictory to the
theoretical, merely because it infringes on the interest of the
speculative reason to this extent, that it removes the bounds which
this latter had set to itself, and gives it up to every nonsense or
delusion of imagination?

In fact, so far as practical reason is taken as dependent on
pathological conditions, that is, as merely regulating the
inclinations under the sensible principle of happiness, we could not
require speculative reason to take its principles from such a
source. Mohammed's paradise, or the absorption into the Deity of the
theosophists and mystics would press their monstrosities on the reason
according to the taste of each, and one might as well have no reason
as surrender it in such fashion to all sorts of dreams. But if pure
reason of itself can be practical and is actually so, as the
consciousness of the moral law proves, then it is still only one and
the same reason which, whether in a theoretical or a practical point
of view, judges according to a priori principles; and then it is clear
that although it is in the first point of view incompetent to
establish certain propositions positively, which, however, do not
contradict it, then, as soon as these propositions are inseparably
attached to the practical interest of pure reason, it must accept
them, though it be as something offered to it from a foreign source,
something that has not grown on its own ground, but yet is
sufficiently authenticated; and it must try to compare and connect
them with everything that it has in its power as speculative reason.
It must remember, however, that these are not additions to its
insight, but yet are extensions of its employment in another,
namely, a practical aspect; and this is not in the least opposed to
its interest, which consists in the restriction of wild speculation.

Thus, when pure speculative and pure practical reason are combined
in one cognition, the latter has the primacy, provided, namely, that
this combination is not contingent and arbitrary, but founded a priori
on reason itself and therefore necessary. For without this
subordination there would arise a conflict of reason with itself;
since, if they were merely co-ordinate, the former would close its
boundaries strictly and admit nothing from the latter into its domain,
while the latter would extend its bounds over everything and when
its needs required would seek to embrace the former within them. Nor
could we reverse the order and require pure practical reason to be
subordinate to the speculative, since all interest is ultimately
practical, and even that of speculative reason is conditional, and
it is only in the practical employment of reason that it is complete.

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 30}

IV. The Immortality of the Soul as a Postulate of

Pure Practical Reason.

The realization of the summum bonum in the world is the necessary
object of a will determinable by the moral law. But in this will the
perfect accordance of the mind with the moral law is the supreme
condition of the summum bonum. This then must be possible, as well
as its object, since it is contained in the command to promote the
latter. Now, the perfect accordance of the will with the moral law
is holiness, a perfection of which no rational being of the sensible
world is capable at any moment of his existence. Since,
nevertheless, it is required as practically necessary, it can only
be found in a progress in infinitum towards that perfect accordance,
and on the principles of pure practical reason it is necessary to
assume such a practical progress as the real object of our will.

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 35}

Now, this endless progress is only possible on the supposition of an
endless duration of the existence and personality of the same rational
being (which is called the immortality of the soul). The summum bonum,
then, practically is only possible on the supposition of the
immortality of the soul; consequently this immortality, being
inseparably connected with the moral law, is a postulate of pure
practical reason (by which I mean a theoretical proposition, not
demonstrable as such, but which is an inseparable result of an
unconditional a priori practical law.

This principle of the moral destination of our nature, namely,
that it is only in an endless progress that we can attain perfect
accordance with the moral law, is of the greatest use, not merely
for the present purpose of supplementing the impotence of
speculative reason, but also with respect to religion. In default of
it, either the moral law is quite degraded from its holiness, being
made out to be indulgent and conformable to our convenience, or else
men strain their notions of their vocation and their expectation to an
unattainable goal, hoping to acquire complete holiness of will, and so
they lose themselves in fanatical theosophic dreams, which wholly
contradict self-knowledge. In both cases the unceasing effort to
obey punctually and thoroughly a strict and inflexible command of
reason, which yet is not ideal but real, is only hindered. For a
rational but finite being, the only thing possible is an endless
progress from the lower to higher degrees of moral perfection. The
Infinite Being, to whom the condition of time is nothing, sees in this
to us endless succession a whole of accordance with the moral law; and
the holiness which his command inexorably requires, in order to be
true to his justice in the share which He assigns to each in the
summum bonum, is to be found in a single intellectual intuition of the
whole existence of rational beings. All that can be expected of the
creature in respect of the hope of this participation would be the
consciousness of his tried character, by which from the progress he
has hitherto made from the worse to the morally better, and the
immutability of purpose which has thus become known to him, he may
hope for a further unbroken continuance of the same, however long
his existence may last, even beyond this life, * and thus he may
hope, not indeed here, nor in any imaginable point of his future
existence, but only in the endlessness of his duration (which God
alone can survey) to be perfectly adequate to his will (without
indulgence or excuse, which do not harmonize with justice).

* It seems, nevertheless, impossible for a creature to have the
conviction of his unwavering firmness of mind in the progress
towards goodness. On this account the Christian religion makes it come
only from the same Spirit that works sanctification, that is, this
firm purpose, and with it the consciousness of steadfastness in the
moral progress. But naturally one who is conscious that he has
persevered through a long portion of his life up to the end in the
progress to the better, and this genuine moral motives, may well
have the comforting hope, though not the certainty, that even in an
existence prolonged beyond this life he will continue in these
principles; and although he is never justified here in his own eyes,
nor can ever hope to be so in the increased perfection of his
nature, to which he looks forward, together with an increase of
duties, nevertheless in this progress which, though it is directed
to a goal infinitely remote, yet is in God's sight regarded as
equivalent to possession, he may have a prospect of a blessed
future; for this is the word that reason employs to designate
perfect well-being independent of all contingent causes of the
world, and which, like holiness, is an idea that can be contained only
in an endless progress and its totality, and consequently is never
fully attained by a creature.

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 40}

V. The Existence of God as a Postulate of Pure Practical Reason.

In the foregoing analysis the moral law led to a practical problem
which is prescribed by pure reason alone, without the aid of any
sensible motives, namely, that of the necessary completeness of the
first and principle element of the summum bonum, viz., morality;
and, as this can be perfectly solved only in eternity, to the
postulate of immortality. The same law must also lead us to affirm the
possibility of the second element of the summum bonum, viz., happiness
proportioned to that morality, and this on grounds as disinterested as
before, and solely from impartial reason; that is, it must lead to the
supposition of the existence of a cause adequate to this effect; in
other words, it must postulate the existence of God, as the
necessary condition of the possibility of the summum bonum (an
object of the will which is necessarily connected with the moral
legislation of pure reason). We proceed to exhibit this connection
in a convincing manner.

Happiness is the condition of a rational being in the world with
whom everything goes according to his wish and will; it rests,
therefore, on the harmony of physical nature with his whole end and
likewise with the essential determining principle of his will. Now the
moral law as a law of freedom commands by determining principles,
which ought to be quite independent of nature and of its harmony
with our faculty of desire (as springs). But the acting rational being
in the world is not the cause of the world and of nature itself. There
is not the least ground, therefore, in the moral law for a necessary
connection between morality and proportionate happiness in a being
that belongs to the world as part of it, and therefore dependent on
it, and which for that reason cannot by his will be a cause of this
nature, nor by his own power make it thoroughly harmonize, as far as
his happiness is concerned, with his practical principles.
Nevertheless, in the practical problem of pure reason, i.e., the
necessary pursuit of the summum bonum, such a connection is postulated
as necessary: we ought to endeavour to promote the summum bonum,
which, therefore, must be possible. Accordingly, the existence of a
cause of all nature, distinct from nature itself and containing the
principle of this connection, namely, of the exact harmony of
happiness with morality, is also postulated. Now this supreme cause
must contain the principle of the harmony of nature, not merely with a
law of the will of rational beings, but with the conception of this
law, in so far as they make it the supreme determining principle of
the will, and consequently not merely with the form of morals, but
with their morality as their motive, that is, with their moral
character. Therefore, the summum bonum is possible in the world only
on the supposition of a Supreme Being having a causality corresponding
to moral character. Now a being that is capable of acting on the
conception of laws is an intelligence (a rational being), and the
causality of such a being according to this conception of laws is
his will; therefore the supreme cause of nature, which must be
presupposed as a condition of the summum bonum is a being which is the
cause of nature by intelligence and will, consequently its author,
that is God. It follows that the postulate of the possibility of the
highest derived good (the best world) is likewise the postulate of the
reality of a highest original good, that is to say, of the existence
of God. Now it was seen to be a duty for us to promote the summum
bonum; consequently it is not merely allowable, but it is a
necessity connected with duty as a requisite, that we should
presuppose the possibility of this summum bonum; and as this is
possible only on condition of the existence of God, it inseparably
connects the supposition of this with duty; that is, it is morally
necessary to assume the existence of God.

It must be remarked here that this moral necessity is subjective,
that is, it is a want, and not objective, that is, itself a duty,
for there cannot be a duty to suppose the existence of anything (since
this concerns only the theoretical employment of reason). Moreover, it
is not meant by this that it is necessary to suppose the existence
of God as a basis of all obligation in general (for this rests, as has
been sufficiently proved, simply on the autonomy of reason itself).
What belongs to duty here is only the endeavour to realize and promote
the summum bonum in the world, the possibility of which can
therefore be postulated; and as our reason finds it not conceivable
except on the supposition of a supreme intelligence, the admission
of this existence is therefore connected with the consciousness of our
duty, although the admission itself belongs to the domain of
speculative reason. Considered in respect of this alone, as a
principle of explanation, it may be called a hypothesis, but in
reference to the intelligibility of an object given us by the moral
law (the summum bonum), and consequently of a requirement for
practical purposes, it may be called faith, that is to say a pure
rational faith, since pure reason (both in its theoretical and
practical use) is the sole source from which it springs.

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 45}

From this deduction it is now intelligible why the Greek schools
could never attain the solution of their problem of the practical
possibility of the summum bonum, because they made the rule of the use
which the will of man makes of his freedom the sole and sufficient
ground of this possibility, thinking that they had no need for that
purpose of the existence of God. No doubt they were so far right
that they established the principle of morals of itself
independently of this postulate, from the relation of reason only to
the will, and consequently made it the supreme practical condition
of the summum bonum; but it was not therefore the whole condition of
its possibility. The Epicureans had indeed assumed as the supreme
principle of morality a wholly false one, namely that of happiness,
and had substituted for a law a maxim of arbitrary choice according to
every man's inclination; they proceeded, however, consistently
enough in this, that they degraded their summum bonum likewise, just
in proportion to the meanness of their fundamental principle, and
looked for no greater happiness than can be attained by human prudence
(including temperance and moderation of the inclinations), and this as
we know would be scanty enough and would be very different according
to circumstances; not to mention the exceptions that their maxims must
perpetually admit and which make them incapable of being laws. The
Stoics, on the contrary, had chosen their supreme practical
principle quite rightly, making virtue the condition of the summum
bonum; but when they represented the degree of virtue required by
its pure law as fully attainable in this life, they not only
strained the moral powers of the man whom they called the wise
beyond all the limits of his nature, and assumed a thing that
contradicts all our knowledge of men, but also and principally they
would not allow the second element of the summum bonum, namely,
happiness, to be properly a special object of human desire, but made
their wise man, like a divinity in his consciousness of the excellence
of his person, wholly independent of nature (as regards his own
contentment); they exposed him indeed to the evils of life, but made
him not subject to them (at the same time representing him also as
free from moral evil). They thus, in fact, left out the second element
of the summum bonum namely, personal happiness, placing it solely in
action and satisfaction with one's own personal worth, thus
including it in the consciousness of being morally minded, in which
they Might have been sufficiently refuted by the voice of their own

The doctrine of Christianity, * even if we do not yet consider it
as a religious doctrine, gives, touching this point, a conception of
the summum bonum (the kingdom of God), which alone satisfies the
strictest demand of practical reason. The moral law is holy
(unyielding) and demands holiness of morals, although all the moral
perfection to which man can attain is still only virtue, that is, a
rightful disposition arising from respect for the law, implying
consciousness of a constant propensity to transgression, or at least a
want of purity, that is, a mixture of many spurious (not moral)
motives of obedience to the law, consequently a self-esteem combined
with humility. In respect, then, of the holiness which the Christian
law requires, this leaves the creature nothing but a progress in
infinitum, but for that very reason it justifies him in hoping for
an endless duration of his existence. The worth of a character
perfectly accordant with the moral law is infinite, since the only
restriction on all possible happiness in the judgement of a wise and
all powerful distributor of it is the absence of conformity of
rational beings to their duty. But the moral law of itself does not
promise any happiness, for according to our conceptions of an order of
nature in general, this is not necessarily connected with obedience to
the law. Now Christian morality supplies this defect (of the second
indispensable element of the summum bonum) by representing the world
in which rational beings devote themselves with all their soul to
the moral law, as a kingdom of God, in which nature and morality are
brought into a harmony foreign to each of itself, by a holy Author who
makes the derived summum bonum possible. Holiness of life is
prescribed to them as a rule even in this life, while the welfare
proportioned to it, namely, bliss, is represented as attainable only
in an eternity; because the former must always be the pattern of their
conduct in every state, and progress towards it is already possible
and necessary in this life; while the latter, under the name of
happiness, cannot be attained at all in this world (so far as our
own power is concerned), and therefore is made simply an object of
hope. Nevertheless, the Christian principle of morality itself is
not theological (so as to be heteronomy), but is autonomy of pure
practical reason, since it does not make the knowledge of God and
His will the foundation of these laws, but only of the attainment of
the summum bonum, on condition of following these laws, and it does
not even place the proper spring of this obedience in the desired
results, but solely in the conception of duty, as that of which the
faithful observance alone constitutes the worthiness to obtain those
happy consequences.

* It is commonly held that the Christian precept of morality has no
advantage in respect of purity over the moral conceptions of the
Stoics; the distinction between them is, however, very obvious. The
Stoic system made the consciousness of strength of mind the pivot on
which all moral dispositions should turn; and although its disciples
spoke of duties and even defined them very well, yet they placed the
spring and proper determining principle of the will in an elevation of
the mind above the lower springs of the senses, which owe their
power only to weakness of mind. With them therefore, virtue was a sort
of heroism in the wise man raising himself above the animal nature
of man, is sufficient for Himself, and, while he prescribes duties
to others, is himself raised above them, and is not subject to any
temptation to transgress the moral law. All this, however, they
could not have done if they had conceived this law in all its purity
and strictness, as the precept of the Gospel does. When I give the
name idea to a perfection to which nothing adequate can be given in
experience, it does not follow that the moral ideas are thing
transcendent, that is something of which we could not even determine
the concept adequately, or of which it is uncertain whether there is
any object corresponding to it at all, as is the case with the ideas
of speculative reason; on the contrary, being types of practical
perfection, they serve as the indispensable rule of conduct and
likewise as the standard of comparison. Now if I consider Christian
morals on their philosophical side, then compared with the ideas of
the Greek schools, they would appear as follows: the ideas of the
Cynics, the Epicureans, the Stoics, and the Christians are: simplicity
of nature, prudence, wisdom, and holiness. In respect of the way of
attaining them, the Greek schools were distinguished from one
another thus that the Cynics only required common sense, the others
the path of science, but both found the mere use of natural powers
sufficient for the purpose. Christian morality, because its precept is
framed (as a moral precept must be) so pure and unyielding, takes from
man all confidence that be can be fully adequate to it, at least in
this life, but again sets it up by enabling us to hope that if we
act as well as it is in our power to do, then what is not in our power
will come in to our aid from another source, whether we know how
this may be or not. Aristotle and Plato differed only as to the origin
of our moral conceptions.

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 50}

In this manner, the moral laws lead through the conception of the
summum bonum as the object and final end of pure practical reason to
religion, that is, to the recognition of all duties as divine
commands, not as sanctions, that is to say, arbitrary ordinances of
a foreign and contingent in themselves, but as essential laws of every
free will in itself, which, nevertheless, must be regarded as commands
of the Supreme Being, because it is only from a morally perfect
(holy and good) and at the same time all-powerful will, and
consequently only through harmony with this will, that we can hope
to attain the summum bonum which the moral law makes it our duty to
take as the object of our endeavours. Here again, then, all remains
disinterested and founded merely on duty; neither fear nor hope
being made the fundamental springs, which if taken as principles would
destroy the whole moral worth of actions. The moral law commands me to
make the highest possible good in a world the ultimate object of all
my conduct. But I cannot hope to effect this otherwise than by the
harmony of my will with that of a holy and good Author of the world;
and although the conception of the summum bonum as a whole, in which
the greatest happiness is conceived as combined in the most exact
proportion with the highest degree of moral perfection (possible in
creatures), includes my own happiness, yet it is not this that is
the determining principle of the will which is enjoined to promote the
summum bonum, but the moral law, which, on the contrary, limits by
strict conditions my unbounded desire of happiness.

Hence also morality is not properly the doctrine how we should
make ourselves happy, but how we should become worthy of happiness. It
is only when religion is added that there also comes in the hope of
participating some day in happiness in proportion as we have
endeavoured to be not unworthy of it.

A man is worthy to possess a thing or a state when his possession of
it is in harmony with the summum bonum. We can now easily see that all
worthiness depends on moral conduct, since in the conception of the
summum bonum this constitutes the condition of the rest (which belongs
to one's state), namely, the participation of happiness. Now it
follows from this that morality should never be treated as a
doctrine of happiness, that is, an instruction how to become happy;
for it has to do simply with the rational condition (conditio sine qua
non) of happiness, not with the means of attaining it. But when
morality has been completely expounded (which merely imposes duties
instead of providing rules for selfish desires), then first, after the
moral desire to promote the summum bonum (to bring the kingdom of
God to us) has been awakened, a desire founded on a law, and which
could not previously arise in any selfish mind, and when for the
behoof of this desire the step to religion has been taken, then this
ethical doctrine may be also called a doctrine of happiness because
the hope of happiness first begins with religion only.

We can also see from this that, when we ask what is God's ultimate
end in creating the world, we must not name the happiness of the
rational beings in it, but the summum bonum, which adds a further
condition to that wish of such beings, namely, the condition of
being worthy of happiness, that is, the morality of these same
rational beings, a condition which alone contains the rule by which
only they can hope to share in the former at the hand of a wise
Author. For as wisdom, theoretically considered, signifies the
knowledge of the summum bonum and, practically, the accordance of
the will with the summum bonum, we cannot attribute to a supreme
independent wisdom an end based merely on goodness. For we cannot
conceive the action of this goodness (in respect of the happiness of
rational beings) as suitable to the highest original good, except
under the restrictive conditions of harmony with the holiness * of
his will. Therefore, those who placed the end of creation in the glory
of God (provided that this is not conceived anthropomorphically as a
desire to be praised) have perhaps hit upon the best expression. For
nothing glorifies God more than that which is the most estimable thing
in the world, respect for his command, the observance of the holy duty
that his law imposes on us, when there is added thereto his glorious
plan of crowning such a beautiful order of things with corresponding
happiness. If the latter (to speak humanly) makes Him worthy of
love, by the former He is an object of adoration. Even men can never
acquire respect by benevolence alone, though they may gain love, so
that the greatest beneficence only procures them honour when it is
regulated by worthiness.

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 55}

* In order to make these characteristics of these conceptions
clear, I add the remark that whilst we ascribe to God various
attributes, the quality of which we also find applicable to creatures,
only that in Him they are raised to the highest degree, e.g., power,
knowledge, presence, goodness, etc., under the designations of
omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, etc., there are three that are
ascribed to God exclusively, and yet without the addition of
greatness, and which are all moral He is the only holy, the only
blessed, the only wise, because these conceptions already imply the
absence of limitation. In the order of these attributes He is also the
holy lawgiver (and creator), the good governor (and preserver) and the
just judge, three attributes which include everything by which God
is the object of religion, and in conformity with which the
metaphysical perfections are added of themselves in the reason.

That in the order of ends, man (and with him every rational being)
is an end in himself, that is, that he can never be used merely as a
means by any (not even by God) without being at the same time an end
also himself, that therefore humanity in our person must be holy to
ourselves, this follows now of itself because he is the subject of the
moral law, in other words, of that which is holy in itself, and on
account of which and in agreement with which alone can anything be
termed holy. For this moral law is founded on the autonomy of his
will, as a free will which by its universal laws must necessarily be
able to agree with that to which it is to submit itself.

VI. Of the Postulates of Pure Practical Reason Generally.

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 60}

They all proceed from the principle of morality, which is not a
postulate but a law, by which reason determines the will directly,
which will, because it is so determined as a pure will, requires these
necessary conditions of obedience to its precept. These postulates are
not theoretical dogmas but, suppositions practically necessary;
while then they do [not] extend our speculative knowledge, they give
objective reality to the ideas of speculative reason in general (by
means of their reference to what is practical), and give it a right to
concepts, the possibility even of which it could not otherwise venture
to affirm.

These postulates are those of immortality, freedom positively
considered (as the causality of a being so far as he belongs to the
intelligible world), and the existence of God. The first results
from the practically necessary condition of a duration adequate to the
complete fulfilment of the moral law; the second from the necessary
supposition of independence of the sensible world, and of the
faculty of determining one's will according to the law of an
intelligible world, that is, of freedom; the third from the
necessary condition of the existence of the summum bonum in such an
intelligible world, by the supposition of the supreme independent
good, that is, the existence of God.

Thus the fact that respect for the moral law necessarily makes the
summum bonum an object of our endeavours, and the supposition thence
resulting of its objective reality, lead through the postulates of
practical reason to conceptions which speculative reason might
indeed present as problems, but could never solve. Thus it leads: 1.
To that one in the solution of which the latter could do nothing but
commit paralogisms (namely, that of immortality), because it could not
lay hold of the character of permanence, by which to complete the
psychological conception of an ultimate subject necessarily ascribed
to the soul in self-consciousness, so as to make it the real
conception of a substance, a character which practical reason
furnishes by the postulate of a duration required for accordance
with the moral law in the summum bonum, which is the whole end of
practical reason. 2. It leads to that of which speculative reason
contained nothing but antinomy, the solution of which it could only
found on a notion Problematically conceivable indeed, but whose
objective reality it could not prove or determine, namely, the
cosmological idea of an intelligible world and the consciousness of
our existence in it, by means of the postulate of freedom (the reality
of which it lays down by virtue of the moral law), and with it
likewise the law of an intelligible world, to which speculative reason
could only point, but could not define its conception. 3. What
speculative reason was able to think, but was obliged to leave
undetermined as a mere transcendental ideal, viz., the theological
conception of the first Being, to this it gives significance (in a
practical view, that is, as a condition of the possibility of the
object of a will determined by that law), namely, as the supreme
principle of the summum bonum in an intelligible world, by means of
moral legislation in it invested with sovereign power.

Is our knowledge, however, actually extended in this way by pure
practical reason, and is that immanent in practical reason which for
the speculative was only transcendent? Certainly, but only in a
practical point of view. For we do not thereby take knowledge of the
nature of our souls, nor of the intelligible world, nor of the Supreme
Being, with respect to what they are in themselves, but we have merely
combined the conceptions of them in the practical concept of the
summum bonum as the object of our will, and this altogether a
priori, but only by means of the moral law, and merely in reference to
it, in respect of the object which it commands. But how freedom is
possible, and how we are to conceive this kind of causality
theoretically and positively, is not thereby discovered; but only that
there is such a causality is postulated by the moral law and in its
behoof. It is the same with the remaining ideas, the possibility of
which no human intelligence will ever fathom, but the truth of
which, on the other hand, no sophistry will ever wrest from the
conviction even of the commonest man.

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 65}

VII. How is it possible to conceive an Extension of Pure

Reason in a Practical point of view, without its

Knowledge as Speculative being enlarged at

the same time?

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 70}

In order not to be too abstract, we will answer this question at
once in its application to the present case. In order to extend a pure
cognition practically, there must be an a priori purpose given, that
is, an end as object (of the will), which independently of all
theological principle is presented as practically necessary by an
imperative which determines the will directly (a categorical
imperative), and in this case that is the summum bonum. This, however,
is not possible without presupposing three theoretical conceptions
(for which, because they are mere conceptions of pure reason, no
corresponding intuition can be found, nor consequently by the path
of theory any objective reality); namely, freedom, immortality, and
God. Thus by the practical law which commands the existence of the
highest good possible in a world, the possibility of those objects
of pure speculative reason is postulated, and the objective reality
which the latter could not assure them. By this the theoretical
knowledge of pure reason does indeed obtain an accession; but it
consists only in this, that those concepts which otherwise it had to
look upon as problematical (merely thinkable) concepts, are now
shown assertorially to be such as actually have objects; because
practical reason indispensably requires their existence for the
possibility of its object, the summum bonum, which practically is
absolutely necessary, and this justifies theoretical reason in
assuming them. But this extension of theoretical reason is no
extension of speculative, that is, we cannot make any positive use
of it in a theoretical point of view. For as nothing is accomplished
in this by practical reason, further than that these concepts are real
and actually have their (possible) objects, and nothing in the way
of intuition of them is given thereby (which indeed could not be
demanded), hence the admission of this reality does not render any
synthetical proposition possible. Consequently, this discovery does
not in the least help us to extend this knowledge of ours in a
speculative point of view, although it does in respect of the
practical employment of pure reason. The above three ideas of
speculative reason are still in themselves not cognitions; they are
however (transcendent) thoughts, in which there is nothing impossible.
Now, by help of an apodeictic practical law, being necessary
conditions of that which it commands to be made an object, they
acquire objective reality; that is, we learn from it that they have
objects, without being able to point out how the conception of them is
related to an object, and this, too, is still not a cognition of these
objects; for we cannot thereby form any synthetical judgement about
them, nor determine their application theoretically; consequently,
we can make no theoretical rational use of them at all, in which use
all speculative knowledge of reason consists. Nevertheless, the
theoretical knowledge, not indeed of these objects, but of reason
generally, is so far enlarged by this, that by the practical
postulates objects were given to those ideas, a merely problematical
thought having by this means first acquired objective reality. There
is therefore no extension of the knowledge of given supersensible
objects, but an extension of theoretical reason and of its knowledge
in respect of the supersensible generally; inasmuch as it is compelled
to admit that there are such objects, although it is not able to
define them more closely, so as itself to extend this knowledge of the
objects (which have now been given it on practical grounds, and only
for practical use). For this accession, then, pure theoretical reason,
for which all those ideas are transcendent and without object, has
simply to thank its practical faculty. In this they become immanent
and constitutive, being the source of the possibility of realizing the
necessary object of pure practical reason (the summum bonum);
whereas apart from this they are transcendent, and merely regulative
principles of speculative reason, which do not require it to assume
a new object beyond experience, but only to bring its use in
experience nearer to completeness. But when once reason is in
possession of this accession, it will go to work with these ideas as
speculative reason (properly only to assure the certainty of its
practical use) in a negative manner: that is, not extending but
clearing up its knowledge so as on one side to keep off
anthropomorphism, as the source of superstition, or seeming
extension of these conceptions by supposed experience; and on the
other side fanaticism, which promises the same by means of
supersensible intuition or feelings of the like kind. All these are
hindrances to the practical use of pure reason, so that the removal of
them may certainly be considered an extension of our knowledge in a
practical point of view, without contradicting the admission that
for speculative purposes reason has not in the least gained by this.

Every employment of reason in respect of an object requires pure
concepts of the understanding (categories), without which no object
can be conceived. These can be applied to the theoretical employment
of reason, i.e., to that kind of knowledge, only in case an
intuition (which is always sensible) is taken as a basis, and
therefore merely in order to conceive by means of- them an object of
possible experience. Now here what have to be thought by means of
the categories in order to be known are ideas of reason, which
cannot be given in any experience. Only we are not here concerned with
the theoretical knowledge of the objects of these ideas, but only with
this, whether they have objects at all. This reality is supplied by
pure practical reason, and theoretical reason has nothing further to
do in this but to think those objects by means of categories. This, as
we have elsewhere clearly shown, can be done well enough without
needing any intuition (either sensible or supersensible) because the
categories have their seat and origin in the pure understanding,
simply as the faculty of thought, before and independently of any
intuition, and they always only signify an object in general, no
matter in what way it may be given to us. Now when the categories
are to be applied to these ideas, it is not possible to give them
any object in intuition; but that such an object actually exists,
and consequently that the category as a mere form of thought is here
not empty but has significance, this is sufficiently assured them by
an object which practical reason presents beyond doubt in the
concept of the summum bonum, the reality of the conceptions which
are required for the possibility of the summum bonum; without,
however, effecting by this accession the least extension of our
knowledge on theoretical principles.

When these ideas of God, of an intelligible world (the kingdom of
God), and of immortality are further determined by predicates taken
from our own nature, we must not regard this determination as a
sensualizing of those pure rational ideas (anthropomorphism), nor as a
transcendent knowledge of supersensible objects; for these
predicates are no others than understanding and will, considered too
in the relation to each other in which they must be conceived in the
moral law, and therefore, only so far as a pure practical use is
made of them. As to all the rest that belongs to these conceptions
psychologically, that is, so far as we observe these faculties of ours
empirically in their exercise (e.g., that the understanding of man
is discursive, and its notions therefore not intuitions but
thoughts, that these follow one another in time, that his will has its
satisfaction always dependent on the existence of its object, etc.,
which cannot be the case in the Supreme Being), from all this we
abstract in that case, and then there remains of the notions by
which we conceive a pure intelligence nothing more than just what is
required for the possibility of conceiving a moral law. There is
then a knowledge of God indeed, but only for practical purposes,
and, if we attempt to extend it to a theoretical knowledge, we find an
understanding that has intuitions, not thoughts, a will that is
directed to objects on the existence of which its satisfaction does
not in the least depend (not to mention the transcendental predicates,
as, for example, a magnitude of existence, that is duration, which,
however, is not in time, the only possible means we have of conceiving
existence as magnitude). Now these are all attributes of which we
can form no conception that would help to the knowledge of the object,
and we learn from this that they can never be used for a theory of
supersensible beings, so that on this side they are quite incapable of
being the foundation of a speculative knowledge, and their use is
limited simply to the practice of the moral law.

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 75}

This last is so obvious, and can be proved so clearly by fact,
that we may confidently challenge all pretended natural theologians (a
singular name) * to specify (over and above the merely ontological
predicates) one single attribute, whether of the understanding or of
the will, determining this object of theirs, of which we could not
show incontrovertibly that, if we abstract from it everything
anthropomorphic, nothing would remain to us but the mere word, without
our being able to connect with it the smallest notion by which we
could hope for an extension of theoretical knowledge. But as to the
practical, there still remains to us of the attributes of
understanding and will the conception of a relation to which objective
reality is given by the practical law (which determines a priori
precisely this relation of the understanding to the will). When once
this is done, then reality is given to the conception of the object of
a will morally determined (the conception of the summum bonum), and
with it to the conditions of its possibility, the ideas of God,
freedom, and immortality, but always only relatively to the practice
of the moral law (and not for any speculative purpose).

* Learning is properly only the whole content of the historical
sciences. Consequently it is only the teacher of revealed theology
that can be called a learned theologian. If, however, we choose to
call a man learned who is in possession of the rational sciences
(mathematics and philosophy), although even this would be contrary
to the signification of the word (which always counts as learning only
that which one must be "learned" and which, therefore, he cannot
discover of himself by reason), even in that case the philosopher
would make too poor a figure with his knowledge of God as a positive
science to let himself be called on that account a learned man.

According to these remarks it is now easy to find the answer to
the weighty question whether the notion of God is one belonging to
physics (and therefore also to metaphysics, which contains the pure
a priori principles of the former in their universal import) or to
morals. If we have recourse to God as the Author of all things, in
order to explain the arrangements of nature or its changes, this is at
least not a physical explanation, and is a complete confession that
our philosophy has come to an end, since we are obliged to assume
something of which in itself we have otherwise no conception, in order
to be able to frame a conception of the possibility of what we see
before our eyes. Metaphysics, however, cannot enable us to attain by
certain inference from the knowledge of this world to the conception
of God and to the proof of His existence, for this reason, that in
order to say that this world could be produced only by a God
(according to the conception implied by this word) we should know this
world as the most perfect whole possible; and for this purpose
should also know all possible worlds (in order to be able to compare
them with this); in other words, we should be omniscient. It is
absolutely impossible, however, to know the existence of this Being
from mere concepts, because every existential proposition, that is,
every proposition that affirms the existence of a being of which I
frame a concept, is a synthetic proposition, that is, one by which I
go beyond that conception and affirm of it more than was thought in
the conception itself; namely, that this concept in the
understanding has an object corresponding to it outside the
understanding, and this it is obviously impossible to elicit by any
reasoning. There remains, therefore, only one single process
possible for reason to attain this knowledge, namely, to start from
the supreme principle of its pure practical use (which in every case
is directed simply to the existence of something as a consequence of
reason) and thus determine its object. Then its inevitable problem,
namely, the necessary direction of the will to the summum bonum,
discovers to us not only the necessity of assuming such a First
Being in reference to the possibility of this good in the world,
but, what is most remarkable, something which reason in its progress
on the path of physical nature altogether failed to find, namely, an
accurately defined conception of this First Being. As we can know only
a small part of this world, and can still less compare it with all
possible worlds, we may indeed from its order, design, and
greatness, infer a wise, good, powerful, etc., Author of it, but not
that He is all-wise, all-good, all-powerful, etc. It may indeed very
well be granted that we should be justified in supplying this
inevitable defect by a legitimate and reasonable hypothesis; namely,
that when wisdom, goodness, etc, are displayed in all the parts that
offer themselves to our nearer knowledge, it is just the same in all
the rest, and that it would therefore be reasonable to ascribe all
possible perfections to the Author of the world, but these are not
strict logical inferences in which we can pride ourselves on our
insight, but only permitted conclusions in which we may be indulged
and which require further recommendation before we can make use of
them. On the path of empirical inquiry then (physics), the
conception of God remains always a conception of the perfection of the
First Being not accurately enough determined to be held adequate to
the conception of Deity. (With metaphysic in its transcendental part
nothing whatever can be accomplished.)

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 80}

When I now try to test this conception by reference to the object of
practical reason, I find that the moral principle admits as possible
only the conception of an Author of the world possessed of the highest
perfection. He must be omniscient, in order to know my conduct up to
the inmost root of my mental state in all possible cases and into
all future time; omnipotent, in order to allot to it its fitting
consequences; similarly He must be omnipresent, eternal, etc. Thus the
moral law, by means of the conception of the summum bonum as the
object of a pure practical reason, determines the concept of the First
Being as the Supreme Being; a thing which the physical (and in its
higher development the metaphysical), in other words, the whole
speculative course of reason, was unable to effect. The conception
of God, then, is one that belongs originally not to physics, i.e.,
to speculative reason, but to morals. The same may be said of the
other conceptions of reason of which we have treated above as
postulates of it in its practical use.

In the history of Grecian philosophy we find no distinct traces of a
pure rational theology earlier than Anaxagoras; but this is not
because the older philosophers had not intelligence or penetration
enough to raise themselves to it by the path of speculation, at
least with the aid of a thoroughly reasonable hypothesis. What could
have been easier, what more natural, than the thought which of
itself occurs to everyone, to assume instead of several causes of
the world, instead of an indeterminate degree of perfection, a
single rational cause having all perfection? But the evils in the
world seemed to them to be much too serious objections to allow them
to feel themselves justified in such a hypothesis. They showed
intelligence and penetration then in this very point, that they did
not allow themselves to adopt it, but on the contrary looked about
amongst natural causes to see if they could not find in them the
qualities and power required for a First Being. But when this acute
people had advanced so far in their investigations of nature as to
treat even moral questions philosophically, on which other nations had
never done anything but talk, then first they found a new and
practical want, which did not fail to give definiteness to their
conception of the First Being: and in this the speculative reason
played the part of spectator, or at best had the merit of embellishing
a conception that had not grown on its own ground, and of applying a
series of confirmations from the study of nature now brought forward
for the first time, not indeed to strengthen the authority of this
conception (which was already established), but rather to make a
show with a supposed discovery of theoretical reason.

From these remarks, the reader of the Critique of Pure Speculative
Reason will be thoroughly convinced how highly necessary that
laborious deduction of the categories was, and how fruitful for
theology and morals. For if, on the one hand, we place them in pure
understanding, it is by this deduction alone that we can be
prevented from regarding them, with Plato, as innate, and founding
on them extravagant pretensions to theories of the supersensible, to
which we can see no end, and by which we should make theology a
magic lantern of chimeras; on the other hand, if we regard them as
acquired, this deduction saves us from restricting, with Epicurus, all
and every use of them, even for practical purposes, to the objects and
motives of the senses. But now that the Critique has shown by that
deduction, first, that they are not of empirical origin, but have
their seat and source a priori in the pure understanding; secondly,
that as they refer to objects in general independently of the
intuition of them, hence, although they cannot effect theoretical
knowledge, except in application to empirical objects, yet when
applied to an object given by pure practical reason they enable us
to conceive the supersensible definitely, only so far, however, as
it is defined by such predicates as are necessarily connected with the
pure practical purpose given a priori and with its possibility. The
speculative restriction of pure reason and its practical extension
bring it into that relation of equality in which reason in general can
be employed suitably to its end, and this example proves better than
any other that the path to wisdom, if it is to be made sure and not to
be impassable or misleading, must with us men inevitably pass
through science; but it is not till this is complete that we can be
convinced that it leads to this goal.

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 85}

VIII. Of Belief from a Requirement of Pure Reason.

A want or requirement of pure reason in its speculative use leads
only to a hypothesis; that of pure practical reason to a postulate;
for in the former case I ascend from the result as high as I please in
the series of causes, not in order to give objective reality to the
result (e.g., the causal connection of things and changes in the
world), but in order thoroughly to satisfy my inquiring reason in
respect of it. Thus I see before me order and design in nature, and
need not resort to speculation to assure myself of their reality,
but to explain them I have to presuppose a Deity as their cause; and
then since the inference from an effect to a definite cause is
always uncertain and doubtful, especially to a cause so precise and so
perfectly defined as we have to conceive in God, hence the highest
degree of certainty to which this pre-supposition can be brought is
that it is the most rational opinion for us men. * On the other hand,
a requirement of pure practical reason is based on a duty, that of
making something (the summum bonum) the object of my will so as to
promote it with all my powers; in which case I must suppose its
possibility and, consequently, also the conditions necessary
thereto, namely, God, freedom, and immortality; since I cannot prove
these by my speculative reason, although neither can I refute them.
This duty is founded on something that is indeed quite independent
of these suppositions and is of itself apodeictically certain, namely,
the moral law; and so far it needs no further support by theoretical
views as to the inner constitution of things, the secret final aim
of the order of the world, or a presiding ruler thereof, in order to
bind me in the most perfect manner to act in unconditional
conformity to the law. But the subjective effect of this law,
namely, the mental disposition conformed to it and made necessary by
it, to promote the practically possible summum bonum, this
pre-supposes at least that the latter is possible, for it would be
practically impossible to strive after the object of a conception
which at bottom was empty and had no object. Now the above-mentioned
postulates concern only the physical or metaphysical conditions of the
possibility of the summum bonum; in a word, those which lie in the
nature of things; not, however, for the sake of an arbitrary
speculative purpose, but of a practically necessary end of a pure
rational will, which in this case does not choose, but obeys an
inexorable command of reason, the foundation of which is objective, in
the constitution of things as they must be universally judged by
pure reason, and is not based on inclination; for we are in nowise
justified in assuming, on account of what we wish on merely subjective
grounds, that the means thereto are possible or that its object is
real. This, then, is an absolutely necessary requirement, and what
it pre-supposes is not merely justified as an allowable hypothesis,
but as a postulate in a practical point of view; and admitting that
the pure moral law inexorably binds every man as a command (not as a
rule of prudence), the righteous man may say: "I will that there be
a God, that my existence in this world be also an existence outside
the chain of physical causes and in a pure world of the understanding,
and lastly, that my duration be endless; I firmly abide by this, and
will not let this faith be taken from me; for in this instance alone
my interest, because I must not relax anything of it, inevitably
determines my judgement, without regarding sophistries, however unable
I may be to answer them or to oppose them with others more
plausible. *(2)

* But even here we should not be able to allege a requirement of
reason, if we had not before our eyes a problematical, but yet
inevitable, conception of reason, namely, that of an absolutely
necessary being. This conception now seeks to be defined, and this, in
addition to the tendency to extend itself, is the objective ground
of a requirement of speculative reason, namely, to have a more precise
definition of the conception of a necessary being which is to serve as
the first cause of other beings, so as to make these latter knowable
by some means. Without such antecedent necessary problems there are no
requirements- at least not of pure reason- the rest are requirements
of inclination.

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 90}

*(2) In the Deutsches Museum, February, 1787, there is a
dissertation by a very subtle and clear-headed man, the late
Wizenmann, whose early death is to be lamented, in which he disputes
the right to argue from a want to the objective reality of its object,
and illustrates the point by the example of a man in love, who
having fooled himself into an idea of beauty, which is merely a
chimera of his own brain, would fain conclude that such an object
really exists somewhere. I quite agree with him in this, in all
cases where the want is founded on inclination, which cannot
necessarily postulate the existence of its object even for the man
that is affected by it, much less can it contain a demand valid for
everyone, and therefore it is merely a subjective ground of the
wish. But in the present case we have a want of reason springing
from an objective determining principle of the will, namely, the moral
law, which necessarily binds every rational being, and therefore
justifies him in assuming a priori in nature the conditions proper for
it, and makes the latter inseparable from the complete practical use
of reason. It is a duty to realize the summum bonum to the utmost of
our power, therefore it must be possible, consequently it is
unavoidable for every rational being in the world to assume what is
necessary for its objective possibility. The assumption is as
necessary as the moral law, in connection with which alone it is

In order to prevent misconception in the use of a notion as yet so
unusual as that of a faith of pure practical reason, let me be
permitted to add one more remark. It might almost seem as if this
rational faith were here announced as itself a command, namely, that
we should assume the summum bonum as possible. But a faith that is
commanded is nonsense. Let the preceding analysis, however, be
remembered of what is required to be supposed in the conception of the
summum bonum, and it will be seen that it cannot be commanded to
assume this possibility, and no practical disposition of mind is
required to admit it; but that speculative reason must concede it
without being asked, for no one can affirm that it is impossible in
itself that rational beings in the world should at the same time be
worthy of happiness in conformity with the moral law and also
possess this happiness proportionately. Now in respect of the first
element of the summum bonum, namely, that which concerns morality, the
moral law gives merely a command, and to doubt the possibility of that
element would be the same as to call in question the moral law itself.
But as regards the second element of that object, namely, happiness
perfectly proportioned to that worthiness, it is true that there is no
need of a command to admit its possibility in general, for theoretical
reason has nothing to say against it; but the manner in which we
have to conceive this harmony of the laws of nature with those of
freedom has in it something in respect of which we have a choice,
because theoretical reason decides nothing with apodeictic certainty
about it, and in respect of this there may be a moral interest which
turns the scale.

I had said above that in a mere course of nature in the world an
accurate correspondence between happiness and moral worth is not to be
expected and must be regarded as impossible, and that therefore the
possibility of the summum bonum cannot be admitted from this side
except on the supposition of a moral Author of the world. I
purposely reserved the restriction of this judgement to the subjective
conditions of our reason, in order not to make use of it until the
manner of this belief should be defined more precisely. The fact is
that the impossibility referred to is merely subjective, that is,
our reason finds it impossible for it to render conceivable in the way
of a mere course of nature a connection so exactly proportioned and so
thoroughly adapted to an end, between two sets of events happening
according to such distinct laws; although, as with everything else
in nature that is adapted to an end, it cannot prove, that is, show by
sufficient objective reason, that it is not possible by universal laws
of nature.

Now, however, a deciding principle of a different kind comes into
play to turn the scale in this uncertainty of speculative reason.
The command to promote the summum bonum is established on an objective
basis (in practical reason); the possibility of the same in general is
likewise established on an objective basis (in theoretical reason,
which has nothing to say against it). But reason cannot decide
objectively in what way we are to conceive this possibility; whether
by universal laws of nature without a wise Author presiding over
nature, or only on supposition of such an Author. Now here there comes
in a subjective condition of reason, the only way theoretically
possible for it, of conceiving the exact harmony of the kingdom of
nature with the kingdom of morals, which is the condition of the
possibility of the summum bonum; and at the same time the only one
conducive to morality (which depends on an objective law of reason).
Now since the promotion of this summum bonum, and therefore the
supposition of its possibility, are objectively necessary (though only
as a result of practical reason), while at the same time the manner in
which we would conceive it rests with our own choice, and in this
choice a free interest of pure practical reason decides for the
assumption of a wise Author of the world; it is clear that the
principle that herein determines our judgement, though as a want it is
subjective, yet at the same time being the means of promoting what
is objectively (practically) necessary, is the foundation of a maxim
of belief in a moral point of view, that is, a faith of pure practical
reason. This, then, is not commanded, but being a voluntary
determination of our judgement, conducive to the moral (commanded)
purpose, and moreover harmonizing with the theoretical requirement
of reason, to assume that existence and to make it the foundation of
our further employment of reason, it has itself sprung from the
moral disposition of mind; it may therefore at times waver even in the
well-disposed, but can never be reduced to unbelief.

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 95}

IX. Of the Wise Adaptation of Man's Cognitive Faculties

to his Practical Destination.

If human nature is destined to endeavour after the summum bonum,
we must suppose also that the measure of its cognitive faculties,
and particularly their relation to one another, is suitable to this
end. Now the Critique of Pure Speculative Reason proves that this is
incapable of solving satisfactorily the most weighty problems that are
proposed to it, although it does not ignore the natural and
important hints received from the same reason, nor the great steps
that it can make to approach to this great goal that is set before it,
which, however, it can never reach of itself, even with the help of
the greatest knowledge of nature. Nature then seems here to have
provided us only in a stepmotherly fashion with the faculty required
for our end.

{BOOK_2|CHAPTER_2 ^paragraph 100}

Suppose, now, that in this matter nature had conformed to our wish
and had given us that capacity of discernment or that enlightenment
which we would gladly possess, or which some imagine they actually
possess, what would in all probability be the consequence? Unless
our whole nature were at the same time changed, our inclinations,
which always have the first word, would first of all demand their
own satisfaction, and, joined with rational reflection, the greatest
possible and most lasting satisfaction, under the name of happiness;
the moral law would afterwards speak, in order to keep them within
their proper bounds, and even to subject them all to a higher end,
which has no regard to inclination. But instead of the conflict that
the moral disposition has now to carry on with the inclinations, in
which, though after some defeats, moral strength of mind may be
gradually acquired, God and eternity with their awful majesty would
stand unceasingly before our eyes (for what we can prove perfectly
is to us as certain as that of which we are assured by the sight of
our eyes). Transgression of the law, would, no doubt, be avoided; what
is commanded would be done; but the mental disposition, from which
actions ought to proceed, cannot be infused by any command, and in
this case the spur of action is ever active and external, so that
reason has no need to exert itself in order to gather strength to
resist the inclinations by a lively representation of the dignity of
the law: hence most of the actions that conformed to the law would
be done from fear, a few only from hope, and none at all from duty,
and the moral worth of actions, on which alone in the eyes of
supreme wisdom the worth of the person and even that of the world
depends, would cease to exist. As long as the nature of man remains
what it is, his conduct would thus be changed into mere mechanism,
in which, as in a puppet-show, everything would gesticulate well,
but there would be no life in the figures. Now, when it is quite
otherwise with us, when with all the effort of our reason we have only
a very obscure and doubtful view into the future, when the Governor of
the world allows us only to conjecture his existence and his
majesty, not to behold them or prove them clearly; and on the other
hand, the moral law within us, without promising or threatening
anything with certainty, demands of us disinterested respect; and only
when this respect has become active and dominant, does it allow us
by means of it a prospect into the world of the supersensible, and
then only with weak glances: all this being so, there is room for true
moral disposition, immediately devoted to the law, and a rational
creature can become worthy of sharing in the summum bonum that
corresponds to the worth of his person and not merely to his
actions. Thus what the study of nature and of man teaches us
sufficiently elsewhere may well be true here also; that the
unsearchable wisdom by which we exist is not less worthy of admiration
in what it has denied than in what it has granted.



Methodology of Pure Practical Reason.

By the methodology of pure practical reason we are not to understand
the mode of proceeding with pure practical principles (whether in
study or in exposition), with a view to a scientific knowledge of
them, which alone is what is properly called method elsewhere in
theoretical philosophy (for popular knowledge requires a manner,
science a method, i.e., a process according to principles of reason by
which alone the manifold of any branch of knowledge can become a
system). On the contrary, by this methodology is understood the mode
in which we can give the laws of pure practical reason access to the
human mind and influence on its maxims, that is, by which we can
make the objectively practical reason subjectively practical also.

Now it is clear enough that those determining principles of the will
which alone make maxims properly moral and give them a moral worth,
namely, the direct conception of the law and the objective necessity
of obeying it as our duty, must be regarded as the proper springs of
actions, since otherwise legality of actions might be produced, but
not morality of character. But it is not so clear; on the contrary, it
must at first sight seem to every one very improbable that even
subjectively that exhibition of pure virtue can have more power over
the human mind, and supply a far stronger spring even for effecting
that legality of actions, and can produce more powerful resolutions to
prefer the law, from pure respect for it, to every other
consideration, than all the deceptive allurements of pleasure or of
all that may be reckoned as happiness, or even than all threatenings
of pain and misfortune. Nevertheless, this is actually the case, and
if human nature were not so constituted, no mode of presenting the law
by roundabout ways and indirect recommendations would ever produce
morality of character. All would be simple hypocrisy; the law would be
hated, or at least despised, while it was followed for the sake of
one's own advantage. The letter of the law (legality) would be found
in our actions, but not the spirit of it in our minds (morality);
and as with all our efforts we could not quite free ourselves from
reason in our judgement, we must inevitably appear in our own eyes
worthless, depraved men, even though we should seek to compensate
ourselves for this mortification before the inner tribunal, by
enjoying the pleasure that a supposed natural or divine law might be
imagined to have connected with it a sort of police machinery,
regulating its operations by what was done without troubling itself
about the motives for doing it.

It cannot indeed be denied that in order to bring an uncultivated or
degraded mind into the track of moral goodness some preparatory
guidance is necessary, to attract it by a view of its own advantage,
or to alarm it by fear of loss; but as soon as this mechanical work,
these leading-strings have produced some effect, then we must bring
before the mind the pure moral motive, which, not only because it is
the only one that can be the foundation of a character (a
practically consistent habit of mind with unchangeable maxims), but
also because it teaches a man to feel his own dignity, gives the
mind a power unexpected even by himself, to tear himself from all
sensible attachments so far as they would fain have the rule, and to
find a rich compensation for the sacrifice he offers, in the
independence of his rational nature and the greatness of soul to which
he sees that he is destined. We will therefore show, by such
observations as every one can make, that this property of our minds,
this receptivity for a pure moral interest, and consequently the
moving force of the pure conception of virtue, when it is properly
applied to the human heart, is the most powerful spring and, when a
continued and punctual observance of moral maxims is in question,
the only spring of good conduct. It must, however, be remembered
that if these observations only prove the reality of such a feeling,
but do not show any moral improvement brought about by it, this is
no argument against the only method that exists of making the
objectively practical laws of pure reason subjectively practical,
through the mere force of the conception of duty; nor does it prove
that this method is a vain delusion. For as it has never yet come into
vogue, experience can say nothing of its results; one can only ask for
proofs of the receptivity for such springs, and these I will now
briefly present, and then sketch the method of founding and
cultivating genuine moral dispositions.

{PART_2|METHODOLOGY ^paragraph 5}

When we attend to the course of conversation in mixed companies,
consisting not merely of learned persons and subtle reasoners, but
also of men of business or of women, we observe that, besides
story-telling and jesting, another kind of entertainment finds a place
in them, namely, argument; for stories, if they are to have novelty
and interest, are soon exhausted, and jesting is likely to become
insipid. Now of all argument there is none in which persons are more
ready to join who find any other subtle discussion tedious, none
that brings more liveliness into the company, than that which concerns
the moral worth of this or that action by which the character of
some person is to be made out. Persons, to whom in other cases
anything subtle and speculative in theoretical questions is dry and
irksome, presently join in when the question is to make out the
moral import of a good or bad action that has been related, and they
display an exactness, a refinement, a subtlety, in excogitating
everything that can lessen the purity of purpose, and consequently the
degree of virtue in it, which we do not expect from them in any
other kind of speculation. In these criticisms, persons who are
passing judgement on others often reveal their own character: some, in
exercising their judicial office, especially upon the dead, seem
inclined chiefly to defend the goodness that is related of this or
that deed against all injurious charges of insincerity, and ultimately
to defend the whole moral worth of the person against the reproach
of dissimulation and secret wickedness; others, on the contrary,
turn their thoughts more upon attacking this worth by accusation and
fault finding. We cannot always, however, attribute to these latter
the intention of arguing away virtue altogether out of all human
examples in order to make it an empty name; often, on the contrary, it
is only well-meant strictness in determining the true moral import
of actions according to an uncompromising law. Comparison with such
a law, instead of with examples, lowers self-conceit in moral
matters very much, and not merely teaches humility, but makes every
one feel it when he examines himself closely. Nevertheless, we can for
the most part observe, in those who defend the purity of purpose in
giving examples that where there is the presumption of uprightness
they are anxious to remove even the least spot, lest, if all
examples had their truthfulness disputed, and if the purity of all
human virtue were denied, it might in the end be regarded as a mere
phantom, and so all effort to attain it be made light of as vain
affectation and delusive conceit.

I do not know why the educators of youth have not long since made
use of this propensity of reason to enter with pleasure upon the
most subtle examination of the practical questions that are thrown up;
and why they have not, after first laying the foundation of a purely
moral catechism, searched through the biographies of ancient and
modern times with the view of having at hand instances of the duties
laid down, in which, especially by comparison of similar actions under
different circumstances, they might exercise the critical judgement of
their scholars in remarking their greater or less moral
significance. This is a thing in which they would find that even early
youth, which is still unripe for speculation of other kinds, would
soon Become very acute and not a little interested, because it feels
the progress of its faculty of judgement; and, what is most important,
they could hope with confidence that the frequent practice of
knowing and approving good conduct in all its purity, and on the other
hand of remarking with regret or contempt the least deviation from it,
although it may be pursued only as a sport in which children may
compete with one another, yet will leave a lasting impression of
esteem on the one hand and disgust on the other; and so, by the mere
habit of looking on such actions as deserving approval or blame, a
good foundation would be laid for uprightness in the future course
of life. Only I wish they would spare them the example of so-called
noble (supermeritorious) actions, in which our sentimental books so
much abound, and would refer all to duty merely, and to the worth that
a man can and must give himself in his own eyes by the consciousness
of not having transgressed it, since whatever runs up into empty
wishes and longings after inaccessible perfection produces mere heroes
of romance, who, while they pique themselves on their feeling for
transcendent greatness, release themselves in return from the
observance of common and every-day obligations, which then seem to
them petty and insignificant. *

* It is quite proper to extol actions that display a great,
unselfish, sympathizing mind or humanity. But, in this case, we must
fix attention not so much on the elevation of soul, which is very
fleeting and transitory, as on the subjection of the heart to duty,
from which a more enduring impression may be expected, because this
implies principle (whereas the former only implies ebullitions). One
need only reflect a little and he will always find a debt that he
has by some means incurred towards the human race (even if it were
only this, by the inequality of men in the civil constitution,
enjoys advantages on account of which others must be the more in
want), which will prevent the thought of duty from being repressed
by the self-complacent imagination of merit.

{PART_2|METHODOLOGY ^paragraph 10}

But if it is asked: "What, then, is really pure morality, by which
as a touchstone we must test the moral significance of every
action," then I must admit that it is only philosophers that can
make the decision of this question doubtful, for to common sense it
has been decided long ago, not indeed by abstract general formulae,
but by habitual use, like the distinction between the right and left
hand. We will then point out the criterion of pure virtue in an
example first, and, imagining that it is set before a boy, of say
ten years old, for his judgement, we will see whether he would
necessarily judge so of himself without being guided by his teacher.
Tell him the history of an honest man whom men want to persuade to
join the calumniators of an innocent and powerless person (say Anne
Boleyn, accused by Henry VIII of England). He is offered advantages,
great gifts, or high rank; he rejects them. This will excite mere
approbation and applause in the mind of the hearer. Now begins the
threatening of loss. Amongst these traducers are his best friends, who
now renounce his friendship; near kinsfolk, who threaten to disinherit
him (he being without fortune); powerful persons, who can persecute
and harass him in all places and circumstances; a prince, who
threatens him with loss of freedom, yea, loss of life. Then to fill
the measure of suffering, and that he may feel the pain that only
the morally good heart can feel very deeply, let us conceive his
family threatened with extreme distress and want, entreating him to
yield; conceive himself, though upright, yet with feelings not hard or
insensible either to compassion or to his own distress; conceive
him, I say, at the moment when he wishes that he had never lived to
see the day that exposed him to such unutterable anguish, yet
remaining true to his uprightness of purpose, without wavering or even
doubting; then will my youthful hearer be raised gradually from mere
approval to admiration, from that to amazement, and finally to the
greatest veneration, and a lively wish that be himself could be such a
man (though certainly not in such circumstances). Yet virtue is here
worth so much only because it costs so much, not because it brings any
profit. All the admiration, and even the endeavour to resemble this
character, rest wholly on the purity of the moral principle, which can
only be strikingly shown by removing from the springs of action
everything that men may regard as part of happiness. Morality, then,
must have the more power over the human heart the more purely it is
exhibited. Whence it follows that, if the law of morality and the
image of holiness and virtue are to exercise any influence at all on
our souls, they can do so only so far as they are laid to heart in
their purity as motives, unmixed with any view to prosperity, for it
is in suffering that they display themselves most nobly. Now that
whose removal strengthens the effect of a moving force must have
been a hindrance, consequently every admixture of motives taken from
our own happiness is a hindrance to the influence of the moral law
on the heart. I affirm further that even in that admired action, if
the motive from which it was done was a high regard for duty, then
it is just this respect for the law that has the greatest influence on
the mind of the spectator, not any pretension to a supposed inward
greatness of mind or noble meritorious sentiments; consequently
duty, not merit, must have not only the most definite, but, when it is
represented in the true light of its inviolability, the most
penetrating, influence on the mind.

It is more necessary than ever to direct attention to this method in
our times, when men hope to produce more effect on the mind with soft,
tender feelings, or high-flown, puffing-up pretensions, which rather
wither the heart than strengthen it, than by a plain and earnest
representation of duty, which is more suited to human imperfection and
to progress in goodness. To set before children, as a pattern, actions
that are called noble, magnanimous, meritorious, with the notion of
captivating them by infusing enthusiasm for such actions, is to defeat
our end. For as they are still so backward in the observance of the
commonest duty, and even in the correct estimation of it, this means
simply to make them fantastical romancers betimes. But, even with
the instructed and experienced part of mankind, this supposed spring
has, if not an injurious, at least no genuine, moral effect on the
heart, which, however, is what it was desired to produce.

All feelings, especially those that are to produce unwonted
exertions, must accomplish their effect at the moment they are at
their height and before the calm down; otherwise they effect
nothing; for as there was nothing to strengthen the heart, but only to
excite it, it naturally returns to its normal moderate tone and, thus,
falls back into its previous languor. Principles must be built on
conceptions; on any other basis there can only be paroxysms, which can
give the person no moral worth, nay, not even confidence in himself,
without which the highest good in man, consciousness of the morality
of his mind and character, cannot exist. Now if these conceptions
are to become subjectively practical, we must not rest satisfied
with admiring the objective law of morality, and esteeming it highly
in reference to humanity, but we must consider the conception of it in
relation to man as an individual, and then this law appears in a
form indeed that is highly deserving of respect, but not so pleasant
as if it belonged to the element to which he is naturally
accustomed; but on the contrary as often compelling him to quit this
element, not without self-denial, and to betake himself to a higher,
in which he can only maintain himself with trouble and with
unceasing apprehension of a relapse. In a word, the moral law
demands obedience, from duty not from predilection, which cannot and
ought not to be presupposed at all.

Let us now see, in an example, whether the conception of an
action, as a noble and magnanimous one, has more subjective moving
power than if the action is conceived merely as duty in relation to
the solemn law of morality. The action by which a man endeavours at
the greatest peril of life to rescue people from shipwreck, at last
losing his life in the attempt, is reckoned on one side as duty, but
on the other and for the most part as a meritorious action, but our
esteem for it is much weakened by the notion of duty to himself
which seems in this case to be somewhat infringed. More decisive is
the magnanimous sacrifice of life for the safety of one's country; and
yet there still remains some scruple whether it is a perfect duty to
devote one's self to this purpose spontaneously and unbidden, and
the action has not in itself the full force of a pattern and impulse
to imitation. But if an indispensable duty be in question, the
transgression of which violates the moral law itself, and without
regard to the welfare of mankind, and as it were tramples on its
holiness (such as are usually called duties to God, because in Him
we conceive the ideal of holiness in substance), then we give our most
perfect esteem to the pursuit of it at the sacrifice of all that can
have any value for the dearest inclinations, and we find our soul
strengthened and elevated by such an example, when we convince
ourselves by contemplation of it that human nature is capable of so
great an elevation above every motive that nature can oppose to it.
Juvenal describes such an example in a climax which makes the reader
feel vividly the force of the spring that is contained in the pure law
of duty, as duty:

{PART_2|METHODOLOGY ^paragraph 15}

Esto bonus miles, tutor bonus, arbiter idem

Integer; ambiguae si quando citabere testis

Incertaeque rei, Phalaris licet imperet ut sis

Falsus, et admoto dictet periuria tauro,

Summum crede nefas animam praeferre pudori,

{PART_2|METHODOLOGY ^paragraph 20}

Et propter vitam vivendi perdere causas. *

* [Juvenal, Satirae, "Be you a good soldier, a faithful tutor, an
uncorrupted umpire also; if you are summoned as a witness in a
doubtful and uncertain thing, though Phalaris should command that
you should be false, and should dictate perjuries with the bull
brought to you, believe it the highest impiety to prefer life to
reputation, and for the sake of life, to lose the causes of living."]

When we can bring any flattering thought of merit into our action,
then the motive is already somewhat alloyed with self-love and has
therefore some assistance from the side of the sensibility. But to
postpone everything to the holiness of duty alone, and to be conscious
that we can because our own reason recognises this as its command
and says that we ought to do it, this is, as it were, to raise
ourselves altogether above the world of sense, and there is
inseparably involved in the same a consciousness of the law, as a
spring of a faculty that controls the sensibility; and although this
is not always attended with effect, yet frequent engagement with
this spring, and the at first minor attempts at using it, give hope
that this effect may be wrought, and that by degrees the greatest, and
that a purely moral interest in it may be produced in us.

{PART_2|METHODOLOGY ^paragraph 25}

The method then takes the following course. At first we are only
concerned to make the judging of actions by moral laws a natural
employment accompanying all our own free actions, as well as the
observation of those of others, and to make it as it were a habit, and
to sharpen this judgement, asking first whether the action conforms
objectively to the moral law, and to what law; and we distinguish
the law that merely furnishes a principle of obligation from that
which is really obligatory (leges obligandi a legibus obligantibus);
as, for instance, the law of what men's wants require from me, as
contrasted with that which their rights demand, the latter of which
prescribes essential, the former only non-essential duties; and thus
we teach how to distinguish different kinds of duties which meet in
the same action. The other point to which attention must be directed
is the question whether the action was also (subjectively) done for
the sake of the moral law, so that it not only is morally correct as a
deed, but also, by the maxim from which it is done, has moral worth as
a disposition. Now there is no doubt that this practice, and the
resulting culture of our reason in judging merely of the practical,
must gradually produce a certain interest even in the law of reason,
and consequently in morally good actions. For we ultimately take a
liking for a thing, the contemplation of which makes us feel that
the use of our cognitive faculties is extended; and this extension
is especially furthered by that in which we find moral correctness,
since it is only in such an order of things that reason, with its
faculty of determining a priori on principle what ought to be done,
can find satisfaction. An observer of nature takes liking at last to
objects that at first offended his senses, when he discovers in them
the great adaptation of their organization to design, so that his
reason finds food in its contemplation. So Leibnitz spared an insect
that he had carefully examined with the microscope, and replaced it on
its leaf, because he had found himself instructed by the view of it
and had, as it were, received a benefit from it.

But this employment of the faculty of judgement, which makes us feel
our own cognitive powers, is not yet the interest in actions and in
their morality itself. It merely causes us to take pleasure in
engaging in such criticism, and it gives to virtue or the
disposition that conforms to moral laws a form of beauty, which is
admired, but not on that account sought after (laudatur et alget);
as everything the contemplation of which produces a consciousness of
the harmony of our powers of conception, and in which we feel the
whole of our faculty of knowledge (understanding and imagination)
strengthened, produces a satisfaction, which may also be
communicated to others, while nevertheless the existence of the object
remains indifferent to us, being only regarded as the occasion of
our becoming aware of the capacities in us which are elevated above
mere animal nature. Now, however, the second exercise comes in, the
living exhibition of morality of character by examples, in which
attention is directed to purity of will, first only as a negative
perfection, in so far as in an action done from duty no motives of
inclination have any influence in determining it. By this the
pupil's attention is fixed upon the consciousness of his freedom,
and although this renunciation at first excites a feeling of pain,
nevertheless, by its withdrawing the pupil from the constraint of even
real wants, there is proclaimed to him at the same time a
deliverance from the manifold dissatisfaction in which all these wants
entangle him, and the mind is made capable of receiving the
sensation of satisfaction from other sources. The heart is freed and
lightened of a burden that always secretly presses on it, when
instances of pure moral resolutions reveal to the man an inner faculty
of which otherwise he has no right knowledge, the inward freedom to
release himself from the boisterous importunity of inclinations, to
such a degree that none of them, not even the dearest, shall have
any influence on a resolution, for which we are now to employ our
reason. Suppose a case where I alone know that the wrong is on my
side, and although a free confession of it and the offer of
satisfaction are so strongly opposed by vanity, selfishness, and
even an otherwise not illegitimate antipathy to the man whose rights
are impaired by me, I am nevertheless able to discard all these
considerations; in this there is implied a consciousness of
independence on inclinations and circumstances, and of the possibility
of being sufficient for myself, which is salutary to me in general for
other purposes also. And now the law of duty, in consequence of the
positive worth which obedience to it makes us feel, finds easier
access through the respect for ourselves in the consciousness of our
freedom. When this is well established, when a man dreads nothing more
than to find himself, on self-examination, worthless and
contemptible in his own eyes, then every good moral disposition can be
grafted on it, because this is the best, nay, the only guard that
can keep off from the mind the pressure of ignoble and corrupting

I have only intended to point out the most general maxims of the
methodology of moral cultivation and exercise. As the manifold variety
of duties requires special rules for each kind, and this would be a
prolix affair, I shall be readily excused if in a work like this,
which is only preliminary, I content myself with these outlines.



Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and
awe, the oftener and the more steadily we reflect on them: the
starry heavens above and the moral law within. I have not to search
for them and conjecture them as though they were veiled in darkness or
were in the transcendent region beyond my horizon; I see them before
me and connect them directly with the consciousness of my existence.
The former begins from the place I occupy in the external world of
sense, and enlarges my connection therein to an unbounded extent
with worlds upon worlds and systems of systems, and moreover into
limitless times of their periodic motion, its beginning and
continuance. The second begins from my invisible self, my personality,
and exhibits me in a world which has true infinity, but which is
traceable only by the understanding, and with which I discern that I
am not in a merely contingent but in a universal and necessary
connection, as I am also thereby with all those visible worlds. The
former view of a countless multitude of worlds annihilates as it
were my importance as an animal creature, which after it has been
for a short time provided with vital power, one knows not how, must
again give back the matter of which it was formed to the planet it
inhabits (a mere speck in the universe). The second, on the
contrary, infinitely elevates my worth as an intelligence by my
personality, in which the moral law reveals to me a life independent
of animality and even of the whole sensible world, at least so far
as may be inferred from the destination assigned to my existence by
this law, a destination not restricted to conditions and limits of
this life, but reaching into the infinite.

But though admiration and respect may excite to inquiry, they cannot
supply the want of it. What, then, is to be done in order to enter
on this in a useful manner and one adapted to the loftiness of the
subject? Examples may serve in this as a warning and also for
imitation. The contemplation of the world began from the noblest
spectacle that the human senses present to us, and that our
understanding can bear to follow in their vast reach; and it ended- in
astrology. Morality began with the noblest attribute of human
nature, the development and cultivation of which give a prospect of
infinite utility; and ended- in fanaticism or superstition. So it is
with all crude attempts where the principal part of the business
depends on the use of reason, a use which does not come of itself,
like the use of the feet, by frequent exercise, especially when
attributes are in question which cannot be directly exhibited in
common experience. But after the maxim had come into vogue, though
late, to examine carefully beforehand all the steps that reason
purposes to take, and not to let it proceed otherwise than in the
track of a previously well considered method, then the study of the
structure of the universe took quite a different direction, and
thereby attained an incomparably happier result. The fall of a
stone, the motion of a sling, resolved into their elements and the
forces that are manifested in them, and treated mathematically,
produced at last that clear and henceforward unchangeable insight into
the system of the world which, as observation is continued, may hope
always to extend itself, but need never fear to be compelled to

This example may suggest to us to enter on the same path in treating
of the moral capacities of our nature, and may give us hope of a
like good result. We have at hand the instances of the moral judgement
of reason. By analysing these into their elementary conceptions, and
in default of mathematics adopting a process similar to that of
chemistry, the separation of the empirical from the rational
elements that may be found in them, by repeated experiments on
common sense, we may exhibit both pure, and learn with certainty
what each part can accomplish of itself, so as to prevent on the one
hand the errors of a still crude untrained judgement, and on the other
hand (what is far more necessary) the extravagances of genius, by
which, as by the adepts of the philosopher's stone, without any
methodical study or knowledge of nature, visionary treasures are
promised and the true are thrown away. In one word, science
(critically undertaken and methodically directed) is the narrow gate
that leads to the true doctrine of practical wisdom, if we
understand by this not merely what one ought to do, but what ought
to serve teachers as a guide to construct well and clearly the road to
wisdom which everyone should travel, and to secure others from going
astray. Philosophy must always continue to be the guardian of this
science; and although the public does not take any interest in its
subtle investigations, it must take an interest in the resulting
doctrines, which such an examination first puts in a clear light.



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