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Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  15,253 ratings  ·  423 reviews
Immanuel Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals ranks alongside Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics as one of the most profound and influential works in moral philosophy ever written. In Kant's own words its aim is to search for and establish the supreme principle of morality, the categorical imperative. This edition presents the acclaimed translati ...more
Paperback, 120 pages
Published April 28th 1998 by Cambridge University Press (first published 1785)
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Roy Lotz
Confession of Stupidity:

Lately, I’ve been had long and agonizing conversation with my friend about the categorical imperative. I was insisting that it didn’t make sense; my friend insisted that it did, and that I merely misunderstood it. After much deliberation, I found to my embarrassment that he was right: I had misunderstood it. I had misunderstood it badly. Now, fortunately, I think I’ve got a hold on the concept, which indeed is not terribly complex (though, for my brain at least, a bit too much).<
Dec 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
When I was studying this book there were no copies available to buy for some reason - but then I found it in the local library in a hard back edition printed in the 1930s or something. I borrowed it and showed it to my lecturer and he said, "You ought to steal that - they only charge you what it cost the library to buy and that would have been cents back then." I said, "You want me to steal a book on morality?" Needless to say, he was much better at lecturing on Neitzsche.

This is a r
Apr 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
“Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”
― Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals



Words & Phrases:

Freedom, Autonomy of the Will, Categorical Imperative, Intuitions of Sense, Morally Aught, Universal Laws, Pure Practical Reason, Pragmatic, Practical, Rational Beings, Universality,
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
I was the annoying guy in class who kept insisting that the categorical imperative was the Golden Rule with a thick, convoluted veneer of the most difficult writing in philosophical history slathered all over it. Of course it is slightly different than the Golden Rule, but I'd say only trivially so. I understand Kant's influence, importance, etc, I just can't stand his writing. And I do think that his ideas, as influential as they were, were often failures. And again, the writing is painfully ba ...more
Translator's Preface
Commentary and Analysis of the Argument - The Approach to Moral Philosophy, Outline of a Metaphysic of Morals, Outline of a Critique of Practical Reason

--Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals

Jul 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
It's probably a product of having been in grad school for too long, but somehow I found myself really liking this piece. I don't even care that it's not applicable to real life, at least his methods are based on tying human action to univsersal principles that anyone can participate in instead of trying to create this really creepy classist/elitist system of morality which the ancient greeks oozed over. And unlike the clunky, inhuman ethical systems espoused by more anylitic thinkers, Kant is at ...more
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
Never trust what modern writers say about classic works of Philosophy. Kant is not only relevant because of the influence he had on latter day thinkers, but, as with this work, he has something to say which makes mince meat out of most of the present day writers. If this book had been published for the first time last year, most readers would have thought it was the greatest book they had read in the decade (or even in their lifetimes).

There is a little bit of getting used to the spe
I like Kant, but there are some fairly obvious issues with deontology. That is not to say that this is not good stuff. I think it should be required reading for humans generally. The issue is that ethics is not easy. Understatement. If you have it in you after this, read The Critique of Pure Reason. If you want the light version, read The Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. If the Critique is a shot of espresso, the Prolegomena is light and sweet.
Aug 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
i read the groundwork (finally finally) cover to cover in an airport in washington dc, where i spent a fourteen hour day watching one flight after another cancelled cancelled cancelled, and i have to tell you that people are near to their worst (that average daily sort of worst) in airports as their flights are cancelled. everyone was fighting for seats on future flights which would also be cancelled. everyone was arguing their cases to helpless airport staff, and the staff, in turn, treated us ...more
Nadia's Library
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Laying the groundwork for The Metaphysics of Morals (a later work of Kant), its a much easier read. I love this one, and enjoy it immensely.
Everyone seems to complain that the text is dry and hard to follow, but honestly, it's not bad at all. I read it as a freshman, and it was probably the first philosophy that I'd read that dealt so strongly in absolutes. I was impressed by his vehement (and gutsy) assertion that a priori principles must still apply empirically, regardless of the situation's specific details.

It's been years since I've read this, and Kant still stands out in my mind as one of the most powerful philosophers that I'
Luís C.
Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals

Nr.1: The moral seeks to define what should be done, what should happen. In this respect differs from the knowledge whose laws determine universally what is or what happens. Kant sought to demonstrate that it was possible to formulate universal laws as the moral of scientific knowledge. These laws had to be made a priori, that is, without take into account the acts actually charged, whether they were good or bad. The supreme legislator of morality is human reason.
Erik Graff
Jan 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Cornel West
Shelves: philosophy
Work on an M.Div. thesis entitled "Immanuel Kant's Influence on the Thought of C.G. Jung" had me read all of the Kant that Jung had read as evinced by the books in his library and the citations given in his writings. Now, two years later, having returned to school to study philosophy, I had incentive to continue the study of Kant's writings beyond those with which the psychiatrist had been familiar.

The Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals was read for Loyola University's PHIL 309
Khashayar Mohammadi
If you have a rudimentary knowledge of the Categorical imperative, don't waste your time with this book. Its 100+ pages of explanation on the simple concept of the categorical imperative. Its a great book for beginners, but I do NOT recommend it to those who have a fundamental understanding of Kant.
Otto Lehto
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Like the black hole of Königsberg, Kant sucks in everybody who gets too close. There are not many singular geniuses in the history of philosophy on the level of Kant. It is impossible to mistake his writing for the writing of anybody else. The tireless construction of a metaphysical system, in his philosophy, meets the surprising open-endedness and skeptical honesty of his proposed solutions.

He was simultaneously a source of new dogmas and the destroyer of old - and even, ultimately, of his own
Mar 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals is without a doubt one of the most important texts in moral philosophy, and in Western philosophy more generally. It helped to shape the way in which we approach ethical questions, and its influence is unmistakable in the notions of universal human rights, of human dignity, of intrinsic worth, and of autonomy that continue to mark ethical and political debates, both within academic philosophy and outside it. Contrary to received opinion, Kant is a highly ...more
Kyle van Oosterum
May 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
This was flummoxing (or mind-fucking, if you wish) to say the least, such abstract and abstruse philosophical thought made me have to go back and forth constantly. From what I've extracted from this book, the kernel idea that Kant wishes to convey is the glorious Categorical Imperative.

What the Categorical Imperative suggests is the following:

"Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law. "

In other words,
Karl Hallbjörnsson
Apr 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really liked the book, despite having been kind of an anti-Kantian for a long time prior to reading it. Deontological ethics are the worst ethics, I'd always echoed someone or other — be it Nietzsche or some other text — but now after reading the actual work (although I do recognize that it feels rushed and underdeveloped philosophically at times) I've changed my mind. I wouldn't call myself a deontologist or anything but I do hold that the doctrine contains an important kernel or nugget of tr ...more
Peter Martuneac
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's Kant, one of history's greatest thinkers, what is there to say? Well, besides that this is not for new or young philosophers. It's a very dense work that can be difficult to follow even for experienced readers of philosophical manifestos such as this. I recommend reading with a pen and highlighter in hand and somewhere with zero distractions. I will also say that Kant's categorical imperative is perhaps the best, most well articulated 'code of ethics' ever put on paper.
Nov 20, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosphy
I understood about 10% but liked what I've read 10/10
Oct 06, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: coursework
kant is a dumb fuck
Jon Gill
Apr 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: committed philosophers, fans of complex syntax
"Thus, we do not indeed comprehend the practical unconditional necessity of the moral imperative, yet we do comprehend its incomprehensibility, and this is all that can reasonably be required of a philosophy that in its principles strives up to the boundary of human reason." ~Concluding sentence (p. 72)

My paraphrase of this sentence and indeed this book:
"Thus we do not indeed comprehend Immanuel Kant, but we do comprehend his incomprehensibility, and this is all that can be reasonably required of an a
The Brain in the Jar
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Regardless of what you think of Kant's philosophy, his ideas, how much sense they make and how useful they are - you have to respect him. The man tried to dig ridiculously deep into human thought. His is the drill that pierced philosophy. The difficulty in understanding Kant is not in his writing. The writing is fairly analytic and linear. What's difficult is the distance Kant takes from human thought.

Human thought is built by layers upon layers. Spread all your ethical laws. Notice
Jan 28, 2011 rated it it was ok
I read this electronic edition:, which did not strike me as particularly hard to read or understand, despite the fact that those are very common complaints re: this book. Actually, I was mostly impressed with Kant's reasoning and argument, apart from the unnecessary conditions of morality later in the book, but deontological ethics (focused on good in itself, etc. divorced from consequence or social contract etc.) just don't work, and the (first formulation of the) Categorical Imperative fails b ...more
Oct 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What is so very fascinating about this book, and it is an accessible Kantian text I should say (he's very liberal with examples in this one, after all), is that Kant begins by saying that, certainly we have got reason for a reason, and if, as the empiricists claim, we have reason to make us happy, nothing is more unsuited to its purpose in the world! Therefore, reason is with us for a higher purpose. Now, everyone knows Kant says morality is derivable from reason alone, but not everyone realizes ...more
Frankie Della Torre
Kant was a genius with an absolutely brilliant philosophical mind. The failure of his philosophical moral project, in many ways, precipitated postmodernity as such. This is a crucial work in the history of moral philosophy and epistemology. For starters, it pretty much invented the very idea of autonomy in this particular text (the only other thinker who might give Kant a run for his money is Rousseau). Within it, one will find mention of all sorts of fancy ideas like a priori and a posteriori ...more
Jan 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
How can you say what you learn from someone who defined our moral culture to the extent that Kant did? I am learning about the formulations of the categorical imperative...

Okay, I need to take a moment to rant here. I don't expect that anyone will read my review or care, but how can "Married to a Stranger" have better overall reviews than this book?!? Something that contributes nothing to the human race, that will not be read after this generation, as opposed to something that contri
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a rule, one really can't 'rate' Kant, or any of his works, as one would rate a book. His philosophy is not written to be clever, charming, or even enjoyable. It is written to impart his interpretation of a logical structure of ethics to those who would apply and experiment with those ethics. That being said, my rating for this book is solely a rating of the translation from German. To rate Kant himself is the job of a power much higher than any critic or even scholar. To understand Kant is ou ...more
Janelle Bouman
Dec 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kant's complicated writing style makes this the single most difficult thing I've ever attempted to read, but his concept of a universal moral principle nonetheless utterly fascinates me. I was completely captivated to see Kant lay the groundwork for modern notions of universal human rights and dignity, putting aside the fact that every single page takes you a solid 10 minutes to read and fully understand. If only he had presented such brilliant ideas in a more comprehensible fashion.

Also, the K
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
There is a joke in German...the German philosophy student who learns English because Kant was too hard to understand in German(!) The hardest book I have ever read...99% went over my head...Kant was a genius.
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Immanuel Kant was an 18th-century philosopher from Königsberg, Prussia (now Kaliningrad, Russia). He's regarded as one of the most influential thinkers of modern Europe & of the late Enlightenment. His most important work is The Critique of Pure Reason, an investigation of reason itself. It encompasses an attack on traditional metaphysics & epistemology, & highlights his own contribution to t ...more
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