I kant do it.

I’m writing a Kant paper right now on teleology. I want to argue that teleology can never serve as a basis for determining (deducing?) moral action. I’m using the 3rd Critique and parts of the 2nd.
Does anyone disagree with this thesis?

Alex,

Are you including the teleos of fulfilling the Law?

Dunamis

i don’t know what you mean exactly. could you write more?

Alex,

It seems to me that for Kant, morality is not defined by the absence of teleos, but rather by teleos itself, purged of its pathological, that is self-serving, character. The moral act is an end in and of itself, which is basically what teleology is, the fulfillment of purpose. The teleos of fulfilling the Law, is exactly the teleos of teleos.

Dunamis

“A good will is good not because of what it effects or accomplishes, nor because of its fitness to attain some proposed end; it is good only through its willing, i.e., it is good in itself”-grounding for the metaphysics of morals.

a will shows off its goodness…or acts morally…when it acts in accordance with duty for the sake of duty. no other inclination can be in mind. including teleology. so no teleology, in itself, can be the source of moral law. its the categorical imperative without attention to ends at all that determines the moral worth of the act.

“The categorical imperative would be one which represented an action as objectively necessary in itself, without reference to another end”
i assume that includes teleology.
teleology is problematic…that means possible. not neccessary. i guess a moral imperative, or law, must be necessary.
does my train of thought make sense?

Alex,

Perhaps our difference is how we are using the term teleology. You are simply using it to mean an “end”. If we follow this though, then a moral act is an “end” in and of itself. By universalizing the maxim, i.e. the law, of an act, the end of the act becomes the fulfillment of the law/maxim of the act. One tells the truth solely in order to tell the truth. No pathological “end” outside of the end of truth is permissible under Kant.

I think that this comes down to the deeper meaning of teleos, to which I feel that Kant is referring. In Greek, the teleos is the purpose of a thing, the fulfillment of what a thing is meant to be. This purpose is established through its “arche”, its foundation, which is its beginning. The teleos is within its arche. The seed contains the fruit. For Kant it seems that morality is defined by the absence of an “end” outside that of the foundation of Law.

It is much like Freud’s Beyond the Pleasure Principle, where the Death Drive operates beyond the self-serving pursuit of pleasure, a kind of inhuman circulation that guarantees its own existence, irrespective of consequence. This is the problem with Kant. Absolute Evil is indistinguishable from Absolute Good. In both cases pathological self-interest is removed.

Dunamis

the reason why i’m using teleology in this way is because i’m writing my paper on kant’s kritik of teleological judgment in his third critique. in the third critique kant is talking about a final purpose. like the kingdom of ends. he uses the principle of final causes and tries to weave the supersensible into nature’s cause and effect relationship. a proof for a first cause. because a moral act is the end in itself one shouldn’t act morally because its the will of god. one acts morally in order to be free.
atleast thats kants way i suppose.
but you are right, this is sorta trickier than i originally thought.
“The practical imperative will therefore be the following: Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means”
surely this will bring about kant’s teleology, but the teleology is problematic, not apodictic. moral laws are apodictic judgments. teleology is only possible by means of our reflective judgment. thats why teleology…as a possible proof for a first cause (god)…can’t dictate morals.
or does kant’s reference back to humanity make his concept of teleology dictate what is right or wrong?
this might just be a technical difference.

your comments are helping me A LOT while writing my paper (i’m writing it now). if you have time please keep commenting.
thanks

Alex,

I’m sorry but I am not fluent enough in Kant’s Critiques to be much help, but it has always seemed to me that his Practical Imperative of “human end and not a means” was an attempt to sew up the moral hole in his Categorical Imperative. In fact it seems like a sub specie of the Categorical Imperative itself. The fundamental problem is that the way that the formal Law is structured, that is a thing that is it’s own end, is kind of shaped like a mobius strip, a one sided, three-dimensional object, where a “cut” has to be made for it to be constructed. When the subject acts purely on the behalf of the Law, vacating all of his/her personal pleasure and consequence, there is the perverse pleasure/stain of being a tool in the hands of the Law. This is the unpardonable “jouissance” of the Nazi who gasses Jews dispassionately, serving only a higher purpose, or that of the unnamable holiness of the Saint ascetic, who starves into purity for the sake of his god. No matter how purely devoted one becomes to the Law, there is always the stain of personal investment. I think here is also where Walter Benjamin’s essay The Critique of Violence (I believe) comes in, which argues that the establishment of the Law is fundamentally a violence. It is this rupture that produces the Law, and it is this rupture that is marked by the stain of personal investment in the Law. But I’m sure that that is not the way that you are heading.

Dunamis

Well, you are the first person to get me interested in walter benjamin. that is a feat in itself. would that essay help me out with heiddeger too?
(his nationalism, etc)
so i’ve given this a lot of thought (i’ve been writing my paper all day) and its turning out to be an argument based on minor technicalities of discourse. sorta tedius, but i’m learning a lot. you helped spark a lot insight thats changing the nature of my paper.
so thanks again.

Alex,

I haven’t read on Heidegger’s politics much lately, but considering his complications with the Nazis and Benjamin’s suicide at the hands of the Nazis, the essay should at the very least throw an interesting light onto Heidegger. It’s a short essay, and Benjamin is an extraordinary writer/thinker. The problem/blessing with Benjamin is that he really does not provide a system. Its like watching a master butcher dissect a bird. A few short, deep strokes and suddenly all of the pieces are just laying there. Glad to have helped. Good luck on your paper.

Dunamis