|Kant's Thoughts On Personality
Kant starts by saying that we
experience our own states of consciousness-our thoughts, feelings, desires, and so on; and
we attribute them to an "absolute subject." Kant believes that we cannot know,
and cannot experience this "absolute subject," instead we should regard it as
merely an idea of reason.
In one of Kant's most difficult
chapters he critiques Descartes' statement of "I think, therefore I am." He says
that this statement only leads us to an awareness of an unknowable self, which functions
as the transcendental unity of apperception, a pure subject, rather than an object of
Kant makes the statement that people
are attracted to objects regarded as "pleasant, beautiful, sublime, or good." He
says that this pleasure motivates our desires for enjoyment, beauty is satisfying to our
disinterested judgment, the sublime leads us to contemplate what inspires awe, and the
good is the object of moral experience.
Kant considers the question of
whether, "Man is (by nature) either morally good or morally evil" (indicating
that it is possible that man is nether or both. To answer this question, he writes on
three dimensions of human nature. The first is natural inclinations, which he says,
"Natural inclinations, considered in themselves, are good, that is, not a matter of
reproach, and it is not only futile to want to extirpate them but to do so would also be
harmful and blameworthy. Rather, let them be tamed and instead of clashing with one
another they can be brought into harmony in a wholeness which is called happiness."
In other words, human nature is naturally good, thus human nature has a conflict between
good and evil tendencies, and we must use free will to pursue good and not evil. Kant
regards Jesus as the personification of the "ideal of moral perfection," a model
we should strive to emulate. Human personality then, can be made good by the use of our
free will. However, this requires that we follow reason, which is oriented towards, but
often falls short of, knowledge.