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The Critique of Practical Reason

Immanuel Kant

Book Overview: 

The Critique of Practical Reason is the second of Immanuel Kant’s three critiques, first published in 1788. It follows on from his Critique of Pure Reason and deals with his moral philosophy. The second Critique exercised a decisive influence over the subsequent development of the field of ethics and moral philosophy, becoming the principle reference point for ethical systems that focus on the rightness or wrongness of actions themselves, as opposed to the rightness or wrongness of the consequences of those actions. Subsequently termed “deontological ethics”, Kant’s ethical system also laid the groundwork of moral absolutism, the belief that there are absolute standards against which moral questions can be judged, and that certain actions are right or wrong, devoid of the context of the act.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . ., of the maxim may remain, but it must not be the condition of it, else the maxim could not be fit for a law. Hence, the mere form of law, which limits the matter, must also be a reason for adding this matter to the will, not for presupposing it. For example, let the matter be my own happiness. This (rule), if I attribute it to everyone (as, in fact, I may, in the case of every finite being), can become an objective practical law only if I include the happiness of others. Therefore, the law that we should promote the happiness of others does not arise from the assumption that this is an object of everyone's choice, but merely from this, that the form of universality which reason requires as the condition of giving to a maxim of self-love the objective validity of a law is the principle that determines the will. Therefore it was not the object (the happiness of others) that determined the pure will, but it was the form of law only, by which I restricted my maxim, founded o. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Immanuel Kant is what I suppose one would call a 'practical philosopher' in that he is not primarily concerned with the more abstract thoughts of philosophy. Rather his philosophy, as expressed in this book, is one about how practical philosophy, or practical reason, works. He makes a distinction...more

i still can't reconcile myself with his philosophy of moral deontology. the supposed "universal maxim" makes no sense to me. i think morality depends on situations. doing something consistently is not always the right thing to do. his concepts are too far into the realm of abstraction, and althou...more

Hume, by his criticism of the concept of causality, awakened him from his dogmatic slumber—so at least he says, but the awakening was only temporary, and he soon invented a soporific that enabled him to sleep again.
—Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy

When I first read that opening s...more

Ο Immanuel Kant είναι ένας κολοσσός της διανόησης του Δυτικού Πολιτισμού. Ηθικολόγος και ορθολογιστής, έδωσε νέα κατεύθυνση στην Ευρωπαϊκή φιλοσοφία. Η «Κριτική του πρακτικού Λόγου» (1788) αποτελεί ουσιαστικά τη βάση της καντιανής ηθικής. Όλο το έργο συνοψίζεται στην προσταγή: «Πράττε έτσι, ώστε...more

While re-reading Kant's major works (his frist two Critiques) I was amazed by how dull and long-winding this German philosopher really is. That is, I forgot about my reservations of two years ago, when I read him for the first time.

His second critique deals with the transcendental fou...more

The first two critiques constitue a unit so far as their main argument goes. The Critique of Pure Reason establishes that while humans can imagine things in themselves (ideas), they can only know things as they are given to them (concepts). The gap between our conceptional understanding and our r...more

Respectable in the effort put into the system outlined, but ultimately it amounts to an empty and subjectivist formalism.

The question that practical reason asks us is, what ought I to do? In this book Kant offers his analysis of how pure reason, which relies on no empirical input whatsoever, can help us answer that question.

As a follow up to Critique of Pure Reason, this book is a grave disappointment. Altogether...more

Το βιβλίο αυτό με δυσκόλεψε περισσότερο από άλλα που έχω διαβάσει όχι λόγω νοημάτων, όσο λόγω της ξύλινης γλώσσας που θυμίζει νομικούς κώδικες. Επέμεινα όμως σ' αυτό, περισσότερο απ' ότι έχω κάνει με άλλα στο παρελθόν, κυρίως επειδή θεωρώ φίλο το Σοπενάουερ και ως τώρα οι ''συμβουλές'' του με βοή...more

It is difficult to overestimate Kant's influence in philosophy. Even those who reject his explicit theories often use his terms, whether by wondering how it could be possible for something to be "synthetic" (not a matter of meaning) and yet "a priori" (knowable independent of experience), or by a...more

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