- Series: Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy
- Paperback: 280 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2nd edition (May 31, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521566738
- ISBN-13: 978-0521566735
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #654,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Kant: The Metaphysics of Morals (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy) 2nd Edition
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"Considering this, I think Gregor did an admirable job....If your German is not up to Kant's beautiful but sometimes exerting sentences, get this translation and read it." Karl Hepfer, Philosophy in Review
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
What I like about Mary Gregor's translation, is her use of footnotes. She clearly defines Latin phrases and the layered meanings of German words whose depth and meaning would be in too hasty of a translation.
Also, she introduces Kant's main ideas very well; and by doing so, expands and clarifies the ideas he presents in his treatise. The footnotes are not excessive; Gregor seems to have balanced them well. The presentation of the footnotes, typography, and the library grade (acid free) paper make this book a keeper.
I read the introduction of the metaphysics of morals about 2 times before i understood it, and never messed with this one anymore.
the fundamental philosophies to Kant's proposed universal morals are all in his introduction to the meta of morals.
The Great Books Kant includes a translation (1887) by W. Hastie of Kant's 1797 works General Introduction to the Metaphysic of Morals (pp. 383-394) and The Science of Right (pp. 395-458). This book contains Mary Gregor's translation of the same text on pages 1-124.
Since Abraham Lincoln was President of the United States in 1861-65, Americans have tended to think that everybody who was important to us would be living in the same country, and democracy would allow the majority to dictate the basic laws which everyone would have to adhere to. Kant has to come up with rules for wars between states that need to maintain a balance of power, but his result is to deny economic motives. "The reason there cannot be a war of subjugation is not that this extreme measure a state might use to achieve a condition of peace would in itself contradict the right of a state; it is rather that the idea of the right of nations involves only the concept of an antagonism in accordance with principles of outer freedom by which each can preserve what belongs to it, but not a way of acquiring, by which one state's increase of power could threaten others." (section 56, p. 117). A written constitution ought to be more powerful than treaties "which can be dissolved at any time, not a federation (like that of the American states) which is based on a constitution and can therefore not be dissolved." (section 61, p. 120).
Somehow Kant lacked the idea that heads of state would regularly be deprived of their rule and punished for official acts. "The sovereign can also take the ruler's authority away from him, depose him, or reform his administration. But it cannot punish him . . .; for punishment is, again, an act of the executive authority, which has the supreme capacity to exercise coercion in conformity with the law, and it would be self-contradictory for him to be subject to coercion." (section 49, p. 94). If the ultimate weapons wipe out life on the planet, we would find ourselves in a condition already imagined by Kant:
"Accordingly, every murderer--anyone who commits murder, orders it, or is an accomplice in it -- must suffer death; this is what justice, as the idea of judicial authority wills in accordance with universal laws that are grounded a priori. -- If, however, the number of accomplices (correi) to such deed is so great that the state, in order to have no such criminals in it, could soon find itself without subjects; and if the state still does not want to dissolve, that is, to pass over into the state of nature, which is far worse because there is no external justice at all in it (and if it especially does not want to dull the people's feeling by the spectacle of a slaughterhouse), then the sovereign must also have it in his power, in this case of necessity (casus necessitatis), to assume the role of judge (to represent him) and pronounce a judgment that decrees for the criminals a sentence other than capital punishment, such as deportation, which still preserves the population. This cannot be done in accordance with public law but it can be done by an executive decree that is, by an act of majesty which, as clemency, can always be exercised only in individual cases." (section 49, pp. 107-108).
Kant died over 200 years ago, unaware that economic interests could become so powerful that even the media would act as a single unit and find itself dedicated to perpetuating a power elite that could always, in each and every instance, join with leaders committed to mindlessly militaristic politics that used statistics on gross hyperconsumption to make itself fiscally worse than worthless, deporting jobs, cutting government programs to prepare for a lean and mean future in which worthless i.o.u.s would compete with other countries that still possessed natural resources and productive capacity, as if nothing could be better than to make democratic government as powerless as possible.
In a reply to a reviewer of Kant's book, Kant pointed out, "that there is a categorical imperative, Obey the authority who has power over you (in whatever does not conflict with inner morality) -- this is the offensive proposition called into question." (p. 136). Part II of this book, called Metaphysical First Principles of the Doctrine of Virtue (pp. 139-232), has a Preface in which, "Hence all doctrine of virtue, in lecture halls, from pulpits, or in popular books, also becomes ridiculous if it is decked out in scraps of metaphysics. --But it is not useless, much less ridiculous, to investigate in metaphysics . . ." (p. 141). Maxims and duty are discussed in the Introduction, along with "a categorical imperative of pure practical reason, and therefore an imperative which connects a concept of duty with that of an end in general." (p. 149). There are 53 sections and a conclusion on religion being beyond pure moral philosophy. The index on pages 235-241 has few names, but suggests a few pages to check for topics like hypocrisy and ridicule.