Up@dawn 2.0

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Immanuel Kant -- Blog Post #1 (Lucy Haston, Section 8)

Lucy Haston
Dr. Oliver
PHIL 1030
Section 8
Immanuel Kant – Blog Post #1 for Final Report
            I have decided to write my final report blog posts on Immanuel Kant, a philosopher we recently covered in class, and one who is quite intriguing to me. While reading in our book A Little History of Philosophy, I was struck by the fact that Kant believed one should never lie because it is always morally wrong. I can imagine many situations where one might find it better to lie than to tell the truth because the truth will cause more destruction than the lie. To learn more about Kant’s philosophy and his strict beliefs on lying, I consulted a book called Immanuel Kant: Key Concepts. It’s available as an eBook through Walker Library, so check it out if you are interested.
            I figure first I should talk a little bit about Kant’s philosophy in general and some of his works. (You’ll find a more in depth discussion of his stance on lying in part II of this blog post.) The word “critique” is an important word when it comes to Kant’s philosophy, along with the word “reason.” Kant wrote three works pertaining to critiquing reason and judgment. They are Critique of Pure Reason, Critique of Practical Reason, and Critique of the Power of Judgment. According to Immanuel Kant: Key Concepts, the three installments were not all planned; they naturally developed as each previous work was written (14). I think it is crucial to note how Kant is using the words “critique” and “reason.” “Critique” is used to mean, “… a detection of prejudice and error in received views but also assumes the more specific sense of a principled assessment of the extent to which claims in general, or claims of a specific kind, may be justified or justifiable” (14). Critiquing is Kant’s way of figuring things out. He critiqued problems in order to come up with a solution. And for reason, Kant uses it to mean, “… the higher mental powers in their entirety, as opposed to the lower mental powers based on the senses” (14). Kant was a major figure of the Age of Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, so reason is an incredibly important aspect of his philosophy, as it was for many other philosophers and writers of the time (think Voltaire, Rousseau, Swift). Enlightenment thinkers such as Kant relied on reason rather than the senses. (If you’re a fan of literature from around this time and later, you’ll know that where reason was seen as the most important human aspect during the Enlightenment period, Romanticism [end of the 18th century] would reject reason and rely on imagination as the most important human aspect.)
            Now that I’ve established the important of reason in Kant’s philosophy, the second part of my blog post will be a more in depth discussion of specifics, such as his views on lying, and how I believe such strict views on lying can be problematic. Stay tuned.
P.S. – The straightforward essay format of this blog post is the English major coming out in me. This format is so engrained that I can hardly stray from it… but here are some helpful links you can consult relating to Kant and his philosophy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cdpu58vo3PU ß a nice video on his Critique of Pure Reason


  1. I also like Kant's philosophy about telling the truth but I do think it falls a little on the extreme side.

    You have to be able to determine when telling the truth whether someone is entitled to know it. Things that people aren't entitled to know may be certain things that you may have done in your past that does not affect that person. That information is private. Or an opinion you may have, that is not a fact so you don't have to tell someone if you do not want to. When I do believe telling the truth is necessary is when someone is entitled to know it, such as telling a child whether they are adopted or not, which many parents struggle with. It becomes difficult to tell the truth when it puts you at risk, in that case people will lead to rationality and not tell the truth people it will expose them and may put them in a bad position. It comes down to whether or not you believe telling the truth is worth the risk.

  2. Devin Willis4:12 PM CDT

    Kant's philosophy is intriguing because it can be an internal conflict. I could only imagine the amount of grieving I could conceive for not lying for the protection of someone. I understand that lying is wrong but not in certain cases of life, death or prosperity. Life is about survival and sometimes you have to do certain things so that you can prosper in this life.

  3. "Yet that even this rule, sacred as it is, admits of possible exceptions, is acknowledged by all moralists; the chief of which is when the withholding of some fact (as of information from a malefactor, or of bad news from a person dangerously ill) would save an individual (especially an individual other than oneself) from great and unmerited evil, and when the withholding can only be effected by denial." I agree that lying is "morally" wrong. The dilemma though, it is also morally wrong to allow unwarranted harm to someone. If a lie protects the life of someone deserving of that life, I feel obligated to protect their life with my lie.

    1. That was a John Stuart Mill quote. I forgot to include that.

  4. Kant may have been too good for this world. Or, too good for the good of flawed agents who aren't always capable of doing their duty without regard to consequences - thank goodness!

    And English majors may be too good for the blogosphere! (Just kidding.)