Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals

Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals

Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals

Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals

Excerpt

This book is a short commentary to accompany Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. The Groundwork is a classic work of moral philosophy and the purpose of this book is to give students new to the study of philosophy an understanding of some of its central themes.

It might help the reader to first point out what things this book does not propose to offer: it does not offer a paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of the Groundwork (though it does closely follow the structure of that book and occasionally focuses on particularly important passages); nor does it present the reader with an introduction to the range of interpretive questions with which Kant scholars have to grapple; finally, it does not present an overview of Kant’s ‘practical’ philosophy (i.e. the full range of his moral and political works). Instead, this book proposes to assist students who are coming to read Kant’s Groundwork for the first time.

Although the Groundwork is a short work, it is thought to capture the core of Kant’s moral theory. Kant’s writing in general is notoriously difficult, and the Groundwork is no exception. Though short, each of its paragraphs was carefully composed and many of them are intended to convey several different and sometimes subtle points. Moreover, Kant’s philosophical project is one that he thought required its own precise vocabulary, and this work is similarly full of peculiar technical terms. Finally, although the Groundwork contains many memorable and evocative phrases, Kant’s overall literary style can be quite offputting. Despite all these challenges to understanding the Groundwork, the student who does so can discover a work of profound moral commitment, sensitivity and concern for human beings. These features risk being lost in translation, and this book is intended to provide a . . .

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