The Metaphysical Elements of Ethics HTML version

But in this reasoning there is also a contradiction. For, on the one
side, he must obey his duty, without asking what e?ect this will have
on his happiness, consequently, from a moral principle; on the ot her
side, he can only recognize something as his duty when he can reckon
on happiness which will accrue to him thereby, and consequently on a
pathological principle, which is the direct opposite of the former.
I have in anot her place (the Berlin Monatsschrift), reduced, as I
believe, to the simplest expressions the distinction bet ween
pathological and moral pleasure. The pleas ure, namely, which must
precede the obedience to the law in order that one may act according
to the law is pathological, and the process follows the physical order
of nature; that which must be preceded by the law in order that it may
be felt is in the moral order. If this distinction is not observed; if
eudaemonism (the principle of happiness) is adopt ed as the principle
instead of eleutheronomy (the principle of freedom of the inner
legislation), the consequence is the euthanasia (quiet deat h) of all
paragraph 10
The cause of these mistakes is no other than the following: Those
who are accustomed only to physiological explanations will not admit
into their heads the categorical imperative from which these laws
dictatorially proceed, notwithstanding that they feel themselves
irresistibly forced by it. Dissatis?ed at not being able to explain
3what lies wholly beyond that sphere, namely, freedom of the elective
will, elevating as is this privilege, that man has of being capable of
such an idea. They are stirred up by the proud claims of spec ulative
reason, which feels its power so strongly in the ?elds, just as if
they were allies leagued in defence of the omnipotenc e of
theoretical reason and roused by a general call to arms to resist that
idea; and thus they are at present, and perhaps for a long time to
come, though ultimately in vain, to attack the moral concept of
freedom and if possible render it doubtful.
Ethics in ancient times signi?ed moral philosophy (philosophia
moral is) generally, which was also called the doctri ne of duties.
Subsequently it was found advisable to con?ne this name to a part
of moral philosophy, namely, to the doctrine of duties which are not
sub ject to external laws (for which in German the name Tugendlehre was
found suitable). Thus the system of general deontology is divided into
that of jurisprudence (jurisprudentia), which is capable of external
laws, and of ethics, which is not thus capable, and we may let this
division stand.
I. Exposition of the Conception of Ethics
The notion of duty is in itself already the notion of a constraint
of the free elective will by the law; whether this constraint be an
external one or be self-c onstraint. The moral imperative, by its
categoric al (the unconditional ought) announces this constraint, whic h
therefore does not apply to all rational beings (for there may also be
holy beings), but applies to men as rational physical beings who are
unholy enough to be seduced by pleasure to the trans gression of the
moral law, although they themselves recognize its authority; and
when they do obey it, to obey it unwillingly (with resistance of their