Write a short note on Kant’s Notion of Good Will?

Immanuel Kant holds that Good Will is the only good. Kant says “Nothing can possibly be conceived in the world or even out of it, which can be called good without qualification, except a good will.” It is the only Jewell that shines by its own light

A good will is one that habitually wills rightly. The rightness or wrongness of volition depends wholly upon its motive.

An action is moral, if its motive is accompanied by good will. Wealth, talent and power are not good in themselves. If they are associated with bad motive they are not good. When these are accompanied by good will, wealth, talent, power etc. are good.

Kant says, “Worth of moral action lies, not in the purpose to be attained by it but in the maxim in accordance with which it is decided upon.”

Good will is the rational will. It is autonomous and self- legislative. It lays down its own laws. While obeying the maxim of good will, man follows his own higher self. Thus man is truly free in following good will.

Good will follows categorical imperative i.e. moral law, laid down by it. Moral law is to be followed out of pure respect for it. It is to be obeyed out of consciousness of duty and not due to emotions, feelings or desires. Moral life is the life of pure reason. Feelings and emotions ought to be completely suppressed. To give way to compassion or love is irrational and thus non moral. To lead moral life, the will ought to be guided by its own moral law or categorical imperative. Kant says the will is free when it acts solely from the sense of duty. The true rule of life is “Duty for duty’s sake.”

According to Kant an action is right or moral when a) it conforms to moral law b) the person performs it out of pure respect for moral law i.e. “duty for duty’s sake”.

The moral law, i.e. categorical imperative is a pure form without matter. It cannot tell us what we should do or what we should not do. It simply tells us that actions should conform to a form. Kant does not tell us about the contents of our actions. He maintains that our actions should be in accordance with principles of moral law. Our actions should self-consistent. The moral law or the categorical imperative is a pure form, devoid of content.

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