Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Quote of the Week, 2015-01-28

Consequently, it can be nothing else than the cultivation of one's power (or natural capacity) and also of one's will (moral disposition) to satisfy the requirement of duty in general. The supreme element in the former (the power) is the understanding, it being the faculty of concepts, and, therefore, also of those concepts which refer to duty. First it is his duty to labour to raise himself out of the rudeness of his nature, out of his animal nature more and more to humanity, by which alone he is capable of setting before him ends to supply the defects of his ignorance by instruction, and to correct his errors; he is not merely counselled to do this by reason as technically practical, with a view to his purposes of other kinds (as art), but reason, as morally practical, absolutely commands him to do it, and makes this end his duty, in order that he may be worthy of the humanity that dwells in him.

A. OUR OWN PERFECTION, V. Explanation of these two Notions, The Metaphysical Elements of Ethics, by Immanuel Kant

Translated by Thomas Kingsmill Abbott

Retrieved from Project Gutenberg

This notion of some distinction between our animal (presumably, this refers to properties we seen in many animals that are not human, as well as humans) nature and our humanity (presumably, this refers to we seen in humans, but not at all or to a limited degree in other animals) does a disservice to both concepts. Our humanity is bound into our animal nature, part and parcel, not truly distinguishable, and both types of properties benefit from this relationship.

Our love of our fellow human (admittedly not universally present) and our social nature is a direct result of our animal nature, since we are social animals. Our ability to organize in large groups is the primary reason we dominate other large predators, and we would not organize into such groups were we not social.

Our ability to create and communicate abstract notions is a direct result of this social need. Every social animal uses social signaling. With our animal nature, our intelligence would lay fallow, having neither exercise nor purpose.

No comments: