• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Explain what Kant means by 'summum bonum'

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

´╗┐Explain what Kant means by ?Summum Bonum?. Immanuel Kant, the famous Enlightenment philosopher, uses the term ?summum bonum? to describe the ?highest good? in his Critique of Pure Reason. He employs the idea of ?summum bonum? to postulate the existence of God; however it is worth noting that it was not his intention to prove the existence of God. In order to understand Kant?s idea of ?summum bonum?, we have to understand his ideas of moral duty and categorical imperative first. First and foremost, Kant believes that there are objective moral values. There is universal agreement that some actions are right and others are wrong, which we instinctively know. It does not matter what culture, circumstances or period of history we are talking about. Actions like murder and rape, for example, are always wrong. If we are not sure if a particular action is morally right, we can work it out through philosophical reasoning. Kant, as an Enlightenment philosopher, believes that the universe is fundamentally knowable through reason. ...read more.

Middle

one?s duty because we know what is morally right or wrong instinctively. If we take our ethical nature seriously, we can see that it is what we should aim to achieve. Kant then goes on to argue that a good will, i.e. a person with the right moral intentions, will always seek to bring about the ?summum bonum?, or the perfect state of affairs. In Kant?s own words, ?the perfect accordance of the mind with the moral law is the supreme condition of the ?summum bonum?.? (Kant, Critique of Pure Reason) It is worth noting that at this point, Kant argues that ?ought implies can?. Because we know that we ought to aim for the ?summum bonum? as it is our duty, it follows that it must be achievable. What we cannot achieve is not our duty. For example, if we see someone drowning, it is not our duty to do so if we cannot swim even though saving someone else is a moral action. ...read more.

Conclusion

In reality, good people are not always happy while bad people could be fairly happy in their own ways. Therefore, Kant argues that ?summum bonum? postulates the immorality of the soul (which outlives our body and will be judged after our physical death), as well as the existence of a moral, rational being, who can bring these two together and judge one according to one?s morality, perhaps in another life and another world. In order to do so, this being must be greater than any human being and also have the power to see through people?s selfishness when they act morally and award those who are truly God. This being we call God. In other words, God is the moral lawgiver of the universe. Therefore ?summum bonum? makes morality meaningful. In conclusion, Kant believes that ?summum bonum? is the perfect state of affairs whereby virtue exists coincidentally with happiness. ?Summum bonum?, however, cannot be achieve in this world simply because we are not omnipotent. Therefore ?summum bonum? postulates the existence of afterlife and God, who is omnipotent and reward those who act morally accordingly. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Practical Questions section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Practical Questions essays

  1. `Always tell the truth and Always keep your promises' Kant's Categorical Imperative.

    Autonomous Will: An autonomous will, then, is one which acts freely and rationally, without any compulsion from another, or provoked by any desire within. The person who cultivates the autonomous will is one who willingly and dutifully abides by the moral law.

  2. Immanuel Kant - discussing Critique Of Pure Reason.

    The reason our knowledge has these constraints is that the mind relies on experience therefore limiting the minds access to the empirical realm of space and time. Kant's theory is deontological, he believes that humans seek an ultimate end called the supreme goodness (summum bonum).

  1. Capital Punishment

    The argument that is backed up "but if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain; he is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer"12. In this case the person(s)

  2. Evaluate Korsgaard's discussion of the Universalizability Argument. In what ways does she conform with ...

    Ends (So act as if you were through your maxims a law-making member of the Kingdom of Ends). Kant tells us that maxim to be universal, it should be subjected to a universalizability test. This happens when we act under the idea that we have free will, where this free

  1. This essay will seek to prove that the statement "the end justifies the means" ...

    The means must be judged by an objective and consistent standard of morality. In the Machiavellian paradigm, the prince acts with a view to his own gain. He is advised to capture, consolidate, and defend his authority from all challengers.

  2. 'Duty should be done, simply because it is duty.' Explain how Kant analysed this ...

    He did not regard this consciousness as a vague feeling of something being right or wrong. Rather, this consciousness was a direct experience of something powerful. In his book Critique of Practical Reason, he wrote 'Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe the oftener

  1. Modern life-prolonging technologies have sharpened some ancient dilemmas on the value of life.

    The SL proponent looks solely for vital signs. The QL proponent looks for an often ineffable congeries of qualities (discussed in more detail in Section 2 below). The SL proponent looks only for vital signs because they suffice, not because they alone are valuable.

  2. “People should always do their duty”. Explain how Kant understood this concept.

    the square having four sides, is part of the definition of the subject, "square". As well as being necessarily true, an analytic statement is purely explicative, as it tells us nothing new about the subject. By contrast, a synthetic statement is one in which the predicate is not included in

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work