The Enlightenment Period

Immanuel Kant

Is Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative different from the Golden Rule?

Yes, it is. According to the Golden Rule, we should act as we would have others act toward us. If our tastes are perverted or we do not care for our own welfare, the Golden Rule could permit acts of depravity and violence, but such acts could never be willed categorically. Moreover, Kant’s system is strongly based on individual good will toward the community of all other rational individuals. There is a debt to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s (1712–1778) idea of the “common good” here; indeed, Kant greatly respected Rousseau’s moral philosophy.


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