Kant is well known for his philosophy which he developed in three parts, with the first being the groundwork of metaphysics (Kant, 7). Here Kant looked at the relationship of the rational or knowledge of morality with philosophical knowledge. The second part of Kant’s work focused on the critique of practical reason and the last part of his philosophy looked at the metaphysics of moral. Through Kant’s philosophy he tried to establish the relevance of morals with the actions that people purpose. This is why he tried to convert what people believed, knowledge of morality into philosophical work. Thus in his second part of metaphysics, he tried to be consistent with his initial ground work. In the process of completing is philosophy, Kant identified that practical reason should judge our actions and not our experience. This implies that the judgment of humans should be influenced by the things which reasons tell rather than conclusions based on the experiences. This is why Kant manages to develop the theory that there is only one moral obligation which he later referred to as the categorical imperative. In this principle Kant believed that everybody is influenced to perform an action based on his practical reasoning and sometimes based on experiences. Therefore to perform these actions, Kant established a common understanding that moral law that determines people’s actions must be categorical imperative. By being categorical imperative Kant implied that every moral should be based on an intrinsically good will without any ill motives. Thus for any person whose behavior is to observe the moral laws, Kant believed that his/her actions must be consistent and based on good will. Additionally, these morals must be obeyed always and consistently applied to all situations and circumstances. Indeed it is on this basis that Kant believed that an individual should not lie, but instead should have pure heart full of good intentions and intrinsic validity (Kant, 18).
According to Kant, categorical imperative is a must have principle. However, it must never be forced because it should come willfully. In other words Kant identified that it is only through the categorical imperative that good morals are rooted. Based on this realization Kant emphasized on the issue of ensuring that the principle of categorical imperative is not forced. Kant also stated that “a categorical imperative is an unconditional obligation” (Kant, 37), meaning that it should never be forced, though it must be undertaken to remain morally upright. He further clarified that for the latter principle to be an unconditional obligation, the need to do good should always supersede the desire to lie. Thus, there is no way an individual can lie and still remain a perfect categorical imperative. Thus he implied that every person must always endeavor to do good based on the morals established by ones means of achieving the desired. This means that regardless of the situation and circumstances, only the right thing should suffice.
Kant also established that people’s intention to do things is based on a number of factors. However, the most outstanding of which is the desire or drive to perform. It is this basis that made Kant to include in his philosophy the fact that the right and morally upright action is done based on duty. Thus, if an individual fails to have good motives of duty, then the person is without any moral values. Therefore, every action that is being done must have very pure and undisputable intention. He further clarified that actions which are performed without any good intentions are baseless and meaningless. The question according to Kant is why people must involve in immoral acts including lie simply to justify their intentions. This only indicates that the person is not morally upright. In this argument, Kant believed that what matters in persons morals is what motivates the person to perform the intended action. Thus a person who performs planned actions with good intention is within the Kantian ethics, because this is a person who can be concluded as morally upright. On the other hand, Kant believed that a person who performs an action with an ill motive is immoral, notwithstanding the person’s motive. Hence, all roots and explanations people give to cover up for lies have been disapproved by Kant. For instance, Kant believed that there is no way a person can convince that he/she is morally upright when the person tells lies to complete given tasks. Hence, if a person tells a lie to make a given action successful, this person is not within the Kantians morals and the person should not be considered or relied on. Also, actions which are performed with ill motives should not be accepted regardless of the results. This is because according to Kant, an individual will is only determined by the person’s desires and priorities. Thus, if a person prioritizes achieving goals with lies, the person develops ill motives which mean that the morally upright persons must be protected from such an individual. Therefore, telling lies means that the liar want some degree of good results by using inappropriate means. Hence what makes lies wrong is not the result, because sometimes the lies yield good results. However, telling lies means using wrong and inappropriate means to achieve the desired good which should never be encouraged. Thus according to Kant what matters for an individual is using the sense of reasoning to base his/her intentions and actions (Kant, 67).
Unlike Kant, Schopenhauer believed that telling a lie is one way which people can use to attain the desired good. Schopenhauer studied people’s motivation, and based most of his studies on Kantian Ethics. However, in his studies he criticized Kant concept of categorical imperative. He criticized Kant who believed that society moral can be influenced by reasoning. Instead, Schopenhauer believed that human beings are actions are influenced by their motivations. In other words people are motivated by their intentions and desires, which later determine their results. Therefore, Schopenhauer believed in the system of idealism. To him human desires are futile and are without any direction. Thus Schopenhauer further noted that “a man can be what he wants to be” (Schopenhauer, 56). In his counter of Kant’s philosophy he pointed out that a man can become what he wants to be. This is because; there is no way of failing to achieve your goals and desires on the basis that you are going to lie. Therefore, in his theory the idealism is what matters because it assists an individual to commit an ethical attitude. In other words, Schopenhauer established that it is the metaphysical existence of an individual which determines most of the person’s undertakings and not the ability to reason. Therefore, metaphysical existence which dictates that man is made up of matter which control all the phenomena’s within the human world. Thus, it is the metaphysical existence that can influence an individual’s actions and intellects.
According to Schopenhauer, the man’s desire and craving are likely to cause pain and suffering to the individual. However, there is a way that individuals can use to escape pain. This is none but the aesthetic contemplation, because it will help an individual to temporarily escape the pain by disassociating with it. Thus, when one disassociate with pain, the individual becomes a perceiver, and as a perceiver the person can’t be separated from the perceptions. Based on the principle of aesthetic contemplation and metaphysics of existence, Schopenhauer believed that a man can avoid suffering by lying and achieve the desired state of happiness. In his arguments, he established that by lying an individual is going to achieve the desired results and at the same time avoid pain. This means that a person can lie to bring happiness in otherwise life full of pain and suffering. By lying the person will disassociate the pains and sufferings and temporarily feel like there is only happiness. Therefore, by lying people become separated from their problems and instead embrace their lies and perception as their new world. This implies that one can lie to escape given source of suffering an at the end help in achieving the ideal world where there is no pain or suffering. Thu, according to Schopenhauer, only an individual’s compassion can drive the way a person reasons, argues and acts. In addition, based on his philosophy, the drive to moral acts can’t be challenged by understanding of duty as established by Kant but by compassion. Therefore, according to him people can be guided by self interest provided it is their centre of compassion. This implies that a people can lie to justify their interests and still meet their desires. Thus, as noted by Schopenhauer (74), there is nothing wrong in malice, if anything self interests are what form the bulk of human needs, wants and deeds. Additionally, he found out that act of malice is not a personal utility but a way that people can meet their self interests which makes the greatest part of human needs. As much as he acknowledge lies as means that people can use to cause harm to others, Schopenhauer believe that it drives the desires of human kind. Thus anything that drives an individual desire should never be taken away from that person.
In fact it is on this basis that Schopenhauer argument becomes stronger than Kant’s philosophy. This is because, for people to meet their self interests which form the greatest bulk of their interest, they must make a choice. In this case the choice can be harmful to others, which is usually the case or it can be in favor of those within the beneficiaries environ. In fact based on this fact, Schopenhauer further argues that the Kant’s strong point is within his philosophy. This is because as one makes a choice he must reason on which choice is the best. This reasoning and call for duty are the major components of Kant’s philosophy, but Schopenhauer identified them and incorporated them into his philosophical works. He further argued that the choice people make will depend on the action that will help an individual to meet the end result. Achieving the desired result therefore calls for a choice which can only come in accordance to a person’s character. And since people have got unchangeable character, the choice they make plays a greater role in determining their final action. Thus it is this argument that will make a person to choose malice and lying than instead of going for pure intent as indicated by Kant. He also argued that people can’t be improved but they can only be assisted to develop drives which are stronger than their self interests. Additionally, by noting this, Schopenhauer implied that there is no individual who can achieve the stated will desired by Kant, because every person has got weakness to live for following their choices while pursuing self interests (Schopenhauer, 96).
In conclusion, Kant believes that there is no room for lying in any moral society. Instead every person must reason and achieve actions with means which are appropriate and morally correct. Thus in Kantian philosophy no ill intentions can be consistent with the desired values that results to the desired action and results. Thus, in his philosophy, human kind must accept to be morally upright regardless of the situation and circumstances. He further noted that lies are only a hindrance to once potential and success, because they just mask the persons potential. Therefore, a person observing Kantian philosophy must be motivated with the desire to be morally upright. On the other hand, Schopenhauer believed that humans intentions and actions are influenced by three things, drive for compassion, egoism and self interests. He further noted that self interests are very important in individuals surrounding. This is because the bulk of humans deeds are motivated by the persons self interests. Thus no one can run away from the reality of using malice to meet these self interests.
Kant, Immanuel. “Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, 3rd eds”. Indiapolis: Haket Publishing Company. 1993, pp. 3-73.
Schopenhauer, Arthur. “Occult, Ether Physics: Tesla’s Hidden Space Propulsion System and the Conspiracy to conceal it”. London, Pergamon Press. 1953, pp. 5-100. Web 8/11/12