Return to Kant, Immanuel

Kant is the first philosopher of self-sacrifice to advance this ethics as a matter of philosophic principle, explicit, self-conscious, uncompromised—essentially uncontradicted by any remnants of the Greek, pro-self viewpoint.

Thus, although he believed that the dutiful man would be rewarded with happiness after death (and that this is proper), Kant holds that the man who is motivated by such a consideration is nonmoral (since he is still acting from inclination, albeit a supernaturally oriented one). Nor will Kant permit the dutiful man to be motivated even by the desire to feel a sense of moral self-approval.

The main line of pre-Kantian moralists had urged man to perform certain actions in order to reach a goal of some kind. They had urged man to love the object which is the good (however it was conceived) and strive to gain it, even if most transferred the quest to the next life. They had asked man to practice a code of virtues as a means to the attainment of values. Kant dissociates virtue from the pursuit of any goal. He dissociates it from man’s love of or even interest in any object. Which means: he dissociates morality from values, any values, values as such.

Copyright © 1986 by Harry Binswanger. Introduction copyright © 1986 by Leonard Peikoff. All rights reserved. For information address New American Library.


Excerpts from The Ominous Parallels, by Leonard Peikoff. Copyright © 1982 by Leonard Peikoff. Reprinted with permission of Stein and Day Publishers. Excerpts from The Romantic Manifesto, by Ayn Rand. Copyright © 1971, by The Objectivist. Reprinted with permission of Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. Excerpts from Atlas Shrugged, copyright © 1957 by Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead, copyright © 1943 by Ayn Rand, and For the New Intellectual, copyright © 1961 by Ayn Rand. Reprinted by permission of the Estate of Ayn Rand. Excerpts from Philosophy: Who Needs It, by Ayn Rand. Copyright © 1982 by Leonard Peikoff, Executor, Estate of Ayn Rand. Reprinted by permission of the Estate of Ayn Rand. Excerpts from “The Philosophy of Objectivism” lecture series. Copyright © 1976 by Leonard Peikoff. Reprinted by permission. Excerpts from Alvin Toffler’s interview with Ayn Rand, which first appeared in Playboy magazine. Copyright © 1964. Reprinted by permission of Alvin Toffler. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc.