Kant: Goodness Essay, Research Paper
The philosopher I used is Immanuel Kant. He was very practical in his
thinking of goodness. A quote of his was “I ought, therefore I can”. His view
was good anything is under good will . He believed good will was the primary
goodness, good in its purest form, and that it couldn’t be corrupted. Good
feelings and good intentions and actions can be interpreted in different ways;
man can corrupt these things into evil…even though it still might be good in
that man’s eyes. What he’s really trying to say is that good will is good in
its objective form. Therefore, it defines goodness. A few examples of forms of
goodness that could be corrupt are intelligence, courage, and resolution.
These things can be very good, but can be used for evil as well.
The short story I would like to allude to in order to connect these
themes and ideas is “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. The title even has “good” in
it…and according to Kant, goodness in its purest form is good will. The
question now would be, does the Misfit have good will? Is what he is doing good,
objectively, and purely? He is purging and purifying the world. He is Christ
like in many senses. He is purifying the world by purging it of its
evil…relating to the Old Testament. God decided that the human race was too
evil to survive, so he flooded it. God killed, as well as the Misfit. This
isn’t the same as Christ, though; it just adds to the religious element.
Christ’s mission was to try and rid the world of evil, and sacrificed for it.
The Misfit sacrificed his freedom initially, was “reborn” again by escaping
from jail, and become a Christ like figure again…he’s now reborn, and his
mission has an even stronger exclamation point on it, just like Christ’s after
he was resurrected. The literal differences are obvious; Christ never held
anyone at gunpoint, let alone kill old ladies (no matter HOW hateful). But the
allusions above illustrate that the Misfit was indeed a Christ-like figure with
good intentions; good will . The Misfit was in a world of evil where he felt
it was his mission, as well as his intention and his will, to be the savior of
the good people.
When it really comes to good will, I believe that the Misfit did have
good will and that, in a world such as his, the South, he was not just playing
God, but his will was forcing him to be God to judge the “infidels”.
I think the best poem I can relate to Kant’s philosophy is “Richard
Cory”. Richard Cory didn’t have good will, that was his downfall. You can’t
tell a whole lot from his personal life from the poem, but you can always assume
that he didn’t have good will, at least in relation to Kant’s philosophy.
Assuming that, we look at his “good” actions, intentions, etc. from the poem.
He was a pillar of society, looked at as the model of goodness. This is exactly
the people’s mistake. I believe that the people killed Richard Cory by not
looking inward for goodness; by saying: ” Well, if Richard Cory does that, if I
do that, I’ll be good like him”. This put him on a pedestal, like the hunger
artist. The people killed him by this method; he realized that the people did
not have good will because they were looking at him for goodness, and therefore,
he could never have good will. The people were looking for an identity, and it
was too much for Richard Cory.
An aspect of my life, or upcoming life, that I’d relate to Kant’s
philosophy is the fact that someday, I’d like to be a parent. We say it’s for
“selfish reasons”, but I think most people who realize what they’re doing when
they want to become a parent , and not just a biological mother/father, also
realize how much responsibility, caring, and planning parenting really takes.
God knows that the fact this isn’t happening often enough is leading to problems
like overpopulation and societal breakdown, but I would want to be a role model
to my child(ren) and teach them everything I know so that eventually, they will
be the best possible person I can raise them to be, and then be able to go out
on their own and do the same. I think that this is good will, because, yes,
reproduction is selfish in a way, but if you have the good will to be a good
parent, by teaching your children, and trying to make them model their lives
after yours, if you truly believe you can be a good mother/father, then you are
acting on good will much more than selfishness.