- Series: Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy
- Paperback: 120 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1st Edition (later printing) edition (April 28, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521626951
- ISBN-13: 978-0521626958
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #742,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Kant: Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy) 1st Edition (later printing) Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
There is a newer edition of this item:
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"This is a good translation of Kant's historically important though brief essay on the foundation of moral theory. Recommended for upper-division undergraduate and graduate students." Choice
"The new translation by the late Mary Gregor of Kant's classic work on moral theory ought to become the standard edition for both ethics and Kant courses." Ethics
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German --This text refers to the Digital edition.
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
This isn't an easy work, however. It needs to be read and re-read (and, I suppose, re-read) to be fully understood and appreciated. I've never found Kant as difficult and obscure as his reputation would suggest, but as a writer of philosophical prose he's certainly not the caliber of, say, Hume or Descartes. As many have noted, Kant is the first great philosopher of the modern era to have been an academic, and it shows. He writes long, meandering sentences, and the organization of his works leaves quite a bit to be desired. Furthermore, his penchant for arcane terminology and architechtonic can make his work seem more forbidding than it is. Still, Kant's ideas in the Groundwork, while subtle and sometimes elusive, are profound and original, and this book is a must-read for anyone interested in philosophical ethics. I should also note that the importance of this book isn't solely historical since there has been a recent resurgence of Kantian moral thinking in the English-speaking world.
Kant's aim in the Groundwork is to discover the fundamental principle of morality. In the first section he attempts to derive this fundamental principle from ordinary moral thought. In particular, he attempts to derive this principle from considerations concerning what is unconditionally good. Kant claims that the only thing that is unconditionally good is a good will. Moreover, its goodness is not a matter of the results of acting on a good will; it is good in itself. As a matter of fact, Kant claims that the results of an action done with a good will and the aims and inclinations of the agent with the good will are morally insignificant.
What, then, is it to act with a good will? It is, Kant argues, a matter of doing one's duty for duty's sake, regardless of one's feeling and the results of doing so. What is it to act from duty's sake? It is to act from principles that accord with the fundamental principle of morality. And here we get the first formulation of the fundamental principle of morality: act only on maxims that you can consistently will to be universal laws. In other words, if one is unable to will the principle of one's action to become a universal law, the action is morally impermissible.
In the second section of the Groundwork Kant attempts to draw the same conclusion from some philosophical points about the nature of duty. He begins by claiming that our knowledge of our duty is a priori and based on the exercise of reason. He then argues that facts about our duties are necessary facts, and that this shows that they must be based on a categorical imperative: that is, that our duties apply to us insofar as we are rational beings, irrespective of the contingent aspects of their nature. And, Kant argues, the one categorical imperative is the fundamental principle of morality mentioned above. He then applies this principle to some examples in order to display just how it grounds our duties in particular cases.
The rest of the second section is filled with lots of interesting, albeit abstruse, ideas. First, Kant attempts to ground the categorical imperative in something that is of unconditional worth. What is that something? The existence of rational beings, which, he says, is an end in itself. And this leads to a second formulation of the categorical imperative: (ii) act only in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in the person of yourself or someone else, as an end and never merely as a means.
This section also includes a third formulation of the categorical imperative: (iii) act only on maxims that you could will to become universal laws legislated by your own will. This formulation encapsulates Kant's claim that we can achieve autonomy only by acting in accordance with the moral law. Conformity with the moral law does not constrain our freedom since we legislate the moral law for ourselves. The moral law is not forced on us from without; its source is to be found in our own rational nature. Indeed, it is only by acting morally that we are able to achieve genuine freedom by transcending the contingent desires and inclinations that are beyond our control.
Of course, that doesn't come close to summing up the Groundwork. But it's a start.
Gregor's translation of Kant's text is fairly clear. She does her best to render Kant's work in readable English prose, and she usually succeeds in this endeavor. I also think Kant's main ideas come through pretty well in this translation. Moreover, this is likely to become something like the standard edition of Kant's Groundwork in the future, since this translation is the one that appears in the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant.
As for the translation, I can't say that I have anything with which it may be compared. I neither speak German nor have I read an alternative translation per sé. I can only say that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, and that it has impacted my mentality to a profound degree.
I read this in my Ethical Theory class at Stanford and learned a lot about Kantianism.