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The Categorical Imperative (i.e., the Universal Command): “Act only according to that maxim by which you can, one and at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.”

Immanuel Kant, published his Foundations for the Metaphysics of Morals – in 1785; it is a treatise predicating a deontological* morality (i.e., an objective morality concerned with dutiful acts, and avoidances, of rational agents1) on the ground of pure abstract reason (i.e., a priori2), posits the Categorical Imperative (universal command) wherein the imperative is means of ascertaining which actions are morally obligated – for all rational agents (moral beings) – and which actions are morally objectionable…

* Note: We present a deontological morality here – and before – we present a teleological (e.g., natural law morality; natural law is more controversial…) morality…

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                1 Rational agent: A moral being i.e., an entity/being which is capable of differentiating actions that harm from actions which ameliorate; and is capable of conforming his/her actions to a rule of reason i.e., choose to act contrary to their desire…

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2 A priori: knowledge derived without reference to that which is (i.e., existence) from the conception of moral being, moral choice/action, and constrained by the Categorical Imperative.             

Kant indicates that the chief duty of rational agents is the perpetuating rational agents i.e., procreation…Additionally, as a rational agent, one must never treat a rational agent as a means, but always as an end i.e., one cannot “use” others (casual sex) – or even use oneself (e.g., masturbation) – to derive momentary pleasure, or to advance oneself towards some goal e.g., career, or to obtain some desired good… Thus, the conjugal I-Thou bond of traditional marriage is implied; one should note that as the Kantian system is predicated upon pure abstract reason (Kant argues analytical propositions vis-à-vis the concepts of moral agent and objective morality…), and, it does not draw upon experience, it prescribes what is moral in the abstract…

The Categorical Imperative is to be understood as a guide for any rational agent looking to determine if a particular act is moral, and those which are immoral. So how does it work? Suppose that you, are God i.e., if you – as a rational-agent (being) are endowed with the ability to compel all other rational agents to choose to act as you do – in the past, in the present, and in the future – the maxim (i.e., the action) of your choosing will be tested by what is manifest from compelling all others – past, present and in the future – to act as you’ve chosen to act. Note that Kant is not asserting that you can compel others to emulate your chosen actions – and as we shall see – he would assert that to compel a rational-agent against their will cannot be universalized; hence, it would be immoral; Kant is only posting the Imperative as a means of differentiating what acts are moral, from those which are immoral. Thus, as you act, the question is what results when all others, in the past, in the present, and in the future (if a future should exist in the wake of your action being universally imitated…) when all others follow your lead?

Moral actions may be universalized; immoral actions either eliminate (i.e., they cease to exist) rational agents or they destroy the efficacy-of-the-act. Now in an attempt to make that clear, we offer a few practical examples; to wit:

Suppose – for whatever reason – that you tell a lie. Immediately, if you could compel all rational beings to lie; this would result in everyone knowing that everyone that may address them is lying; so all know they are being lied to, and thus, the efficacy of the lie – deception/manipulation – is destroyed; thus, lying is thus immoral…

Truth-telling does not present the same difficulty; when one tells the truth, one establishes the maxim which compels all rational agents to tell the truth. As a consequence – since all rational agents (moral beings) past present and future, are commanded to tell the truth, history is re-lived, re-written, based on truth; lives – in many respects – will be immeasurably better. A few examples: 1.) The despot – rather than lying to, and manipulating a people with lies, informs those people of his/her intent to utilize them to advance his interests; it is unlikely he/she would be successful… 2.) And the guy/man that lies to a girl/woman for sexual favors, will not be able to use her; as he informs her that his only interest in her is transitory; he won’t respect, or even remember, her after she gives him what he wants… 3.) The used car dealer tells you facts about what you are about to purchase; you either do not buy or make the purchase at a much-reduced cost. 4.) Advertisers tell the truth, and cease attempting to convince the public that their product is necessary to have a meaningful existence… 5.) If Hitler had told the truth, it is unlikely that he would have obtained power… Certainly, history would have less stress, fewer wars, murder, mayhem etc. Thus, truth-telling is moral. 6.) If the truth about what constitutes a human being, and when human life begins, abortion would become a thing of the past… 7.) And if those in the legal, philosophical, medical, biological, behavioral-science and natural-science professions/disciplines acknowledged their disciplines limitation and their professional and personal ignorance, many things which they advance – to the aggregate, and long-term detriment of society would be considerably attenuated…

Now, if one aborts a baby, one compels all rational agents/beings – past, present, and future – to abort, thereby eliminating the human race (dependent rational agents). Thus, abortion is immoral. If one practices hedonism (irresponsible pleasure seeking); all practice hedonism, then necessarily any – and all – offspring will be neglected and eventually, die. One’s irresponsible pleasurable actions eliminate humans through moral neglect… Hedonism is thus, immoral. If one engages in sodomy (homosexuality, or heterosexual sodomy), then all are compelled to engage in sodomy; the human race ceases to exist. Sodomy is thus, immoral i.e., both homosexual actions, and heterosexual actions – which mimic homosexual acts – are immoral…

Kant’s moral system is totally just – “fair”! The Categorical Imperative is like a mathematical function i.e., it does not discriminate vis-à-vis any accidental (e.g., race, sex, age, color, national origin,…) qualities at all. Neither, does the Categorical Imperative have any patience for all the sentimental scum – so prevalent today, in our decadent culture – seeking to be validated by the arbitrary despotic fiat of lawless government i.e., one which subordinates 1st principle to secondary principles e.g., SCOTUS vis-à-vis placing privacy right above the fundamental right-to-Life..

In a bit of a reiteration, we note: A study of the implications of Kant’s moral system – a system predicated upon a priori principles of pure abstract reason – is particularly enlightening vis-à-vis the “Culture of Death4,” since the Categorical Imperative evaluates moral conduct independent of any accidental qualities e.g., whether one is male, female, black, white, yellow, red, heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transgender, coprophile, necrophile, pedophile related to rational agents i.e., its’ assessment of moral conduct is like a mathematical function – choose an action from the “range” of possibilities, and it is “mapped” to the “domain” as either moral or nay; thus, the Categorical Imperative is inherent – cruelly – just. It is rejected mainly, for that very reason; amazing as it may seem, people do not care as much about what they ought to do as they care about obtaining their fulfillment…

                4 “Culture of Death”: Coined in 1993 by Pope Saint John Paul II as he referred to the erstwhile formerly dominant Western cultural worldview: Christendom; where society – in the wake of its passing – is headed i.e., dissolution, Hell, dystopia – or what have you. The Pope was recognized as a 1st rate Philosopher – on the continent of Europe – even amongst his contemporary atheistic Philosophers. I suspect that Saint John Paul II would have referred to the culture, as the Culture of the antichrist, were it not such a flamboyant term… The Culture-of-Death is the culture which was formerly known as Christendom – the Culture from whence Immanuel Kant, and intellectual progenitors, descended; Christendom animated the Founding of the United States, it jurisprudence and government; Kant’s “philosophy” and the Copernican Revolution was a tacit repudiation of the philosophical underpinnings of the American War of Independence; the Kantian epistemology was an insidious poison infecting every facet of the Culture of Christendom leaving in its’ wake the vineyard devastated.

We’ve already touched upon the polemical i.e., the controversial, but we re-iterate: if one aborts a baby, one aborts human history – needless to say, abortion is immoral. Sexual relations which are non-conjugal, and wherein rational-agents have not the possibility to be perpetuated (i.e., the use of contraceptives, or non-vaginal sex), are immoral; hedonism – cannot be universalized – as I have stated elsewhere, and thus is immoral; note too that commanding others to do what you find pleasurable may be quite unpleasant; promiscuity – a more narrow type of action, than hedonism – albeit not any more moral; incest – should not have to be explained – immoral; homosexuality – again should need no explanation – immoral; pornography – cannot be universalized; infidelity – cannot be sanctioned; cheating – a form of lying; stealing – the same; advertising which relies upon manipulating – no can do, immoral; usury – immoral; coercion by manipulation – as often in politics and ”love” or by force – as is terroristic tactics are obviously immoral.

Kant’s moral system has a number of problems – or weaknesses – which does not disqualify it; the system was not meant to indict human base-instinct or desire; Kant posits because – given his epistemology (theory of knowledge), which he thought valid/true – the natural law wouldn’t any longer be untenable; thus, Kant – mindfully – provides the Categorical Imperative. The system does not allow for easy resolution of conflicts i.e., dilemmas may become seemingly irresolvable (it does not mean they are not resolvable, but it requires dispassionate reflection; moreover, what appears to be a dilemma is actually forcing a number of simultaneous imperatives/act; taken one at a time, they are resolvable…). Although Kant posits the Categorical Imperative as a priori there is any number of concessions he makes to an objective reality, and ontology – because the concessions are latent (unconscious), it does render them as irrelevant.

I posit Kant’s moral system as a tool, to buttress the natural law – irrespective of whether some philosophers and some ethicists reject the natural law, largely because they accept Kant’s epistemology** – and because it is pretty straight-forward; the natural law will be articulated, at some future date, as will the Decalogue.

** Regarding Kant’s epistemology: Although most describe Kant’s Critiques of Pure Reason to be the work of genius and marvel at its complexity and yadda yadda yadda… It is an elaborate Procrustean Bed – Quantum Mechanics, and subsequent developments in Physics have “purchased” the Critiques – and Dr. Kant – a bed in a home for those suffering from a panoply of mental illnesses (the Critiques cannot “map” i.e., give an account of reality, but it took aforementioned developments in modern physics to reveal the inadequacy of Kant’s theory-of-knowledge. Note: those who accept Kant’s epistemology enjoy the liberation from the natural law – given the Kantian antinomies vis-à-vis objective reality – but they then assert Kant’s morality is unlivable; unless possesses the moral disposition of a Christian-saint…

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