Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Kant's 288-Word Sentence

I learned about this 288 word sentence by Immanuel Kant from Stephen Hicks
Now, if ends must first be given to us, in relation to which alone the concept of perfection (whether internal in ourselves or external in God) can be the determining ground of the will; and if an end as an object which must precede the determination of the will by a practical rule and contain the ground of the possibility of such a determination — hence as the matter of the will taken as its determining ground — is always empirical; then it can serve as the Epicurean principle of the doctrine of happiness but never as the pure rational principle of the doctrine of morals and of duty (so too, talents and their development only because they contribute to the advantages of life, or the will of God if agreement with it is taken as the object of the will without an antecedent practical principle independent of this idea, can become motives of the will only by means of the happiness we expect from them); from this it follows, first, that all the principles exhibited here are material; second, that they include all possible material principles; and, finally, the conclusion from this, that since material principles are quite unfit to be the supreme moral law (as has been proved), the formal practical principle of pure reason (in accordance with which the mere form of a possible giving of universal law through our maxims must constitute the supreme and immediate determining ground of the will) is the sole principle that can possibly be fit for categorical imperatives, that is, practical laws (which make actions duties), and in general for the principle of morality, whether in appraisals or in application to the human will in determining it. 
~ (Practical Philosophy by Immanuel Kant; Edited by Mary J. Gregor, Cambridge University Press, 1996, p. 173)
I wonder how many words Kant has granted to this particular passage in his original German writing—it will also be interesting to see how many words this passage has in the translations done by other Kantian scholars.

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