Friday, June 1, 2018

Kant on Happiness and Self-Respect

Kant's Statue in Kaliningrad
Immanuel Kant felt that he would not be able to stand happiness unless he was convinced that he was worthy of it. In a letter to Moses Mendelssohn (April 8, 1766), he wrote:
"For though there may be flaws that even the most steadfast determination cannot eradicate completely, I shall certainly never become a fickle or fraudulent person, after having devoted the largest part of my life to studying how to despise those things that tend to corrupt one's character. Losing the self-respect that stems from a sense of honesty would therefore be the greatest evil that could, but most certainly shall not, befall me. Although I am absolutely convinced of many things that I shall never have the courage to say, I shall never say anything I do not believe." ~ (Correspondence by Immanuel Kant; Edited by Arnulf Zweig; The Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant; Page 89—90)
Kant believed the greatest misfortune that can befall a man is self-contempt (loss of self-respect). He was not as bothered about the loss of esteem in which he was held by others. Socrates has said something similar: “It would be better for me to be at odds with the multitudes than, being one, out of harmony with myself."

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