I’ll admit, I’m a Kant lover — I just love the way he thinks… It’s kind of irrational, like the way I love llamas, the way I think Tony Blair is hot, and I love fried goat cheese balls (really, who wouldn’t…).
After the language, the thing that students find difficult about Kant is that he seems to say nothing and everything all at the same time. His Categorical Imperative is simple — your motives must be universalizable… period. It must be the case that you would wish others to act on the motive you are about to act on.
The problem with Kant is that it seems quite plausible that a person could have more than one motive for their action. Which one do you choose? Which is the REAL motive? Am I going to Florida because I love my Grandmother or because it’s fun — ummm… both. The first is acceptable under the CI and the second isn’t.
The reason I love Kant is that his theory is so well supported and rooted in the idea that people have autonomy — they can choose what to do and when to do it. They make life path decisions and those ought to be respected. He also says that human life is inherently valuable. Just because you are a human, you are a thing of value. This rings true with me.
So — struggle with him… you don’t have to love him, but understanding him will help you to understand much of western culture… so there!