German Philosopher Immanuel Kant On Lying

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Interpolation of Kant’s views on lying.

Kant says that a person telling a lie, is guilty at the moment he tells the lie.  That is somewhat different from thinkers of today who try to rationalize the liar's lie expecially in court.   Although some might argue extenuating circumstances, for Kant the action of the behavior is entirely the responsibilty of the reasoning being.(Kant Selections)

Immanuel Kant was raised by a strict and religious woman, and his entire life was devoted to understanding the complexities and nuances of the human animal. He saw in man not only a physical being inhabiting the earth, but a bit of God in each man. His religion is based on faith and faith that overcomes the transient and temporal conditions of the physical human.

Therefore, to argue extenuating circumstances for a lie, would be akin to sacrilege if Immanuel Kant’s religion held that Catholic sin although his religion probably did not.

Kant says that a person’s action at the moment of telling the lie reflects on the person’s observable character. If the character is alive and thinking, he can be perceived and his actions judged according to their actuality not according to excuses or ridicule.

Kant says that we judge an act as if singled out in time as a visible product completely isolated from all extraneous complications. Kant , of course,

is talking about voluntary actions. He is not considering lies brought out by torture or threat of annihilation. Therefore, if a man lies

 voluntarily, the fault is his and the reason is a fault in the liars character.

The human reaching to heights of seeking God must come to terms with his physical nature and realize that to find God, he must overcome his physical propensities to lie

for aggrandizement or to lie for securing himself irrespective of the harm he is causing to others. God does not forgive. Immanuel Kant’s God is not a supernatural being as we are being led to imagine. His God encompasses us and is in us and works through us. The offender can not claim he is a natural liar or his previous existence prior to the lie. The lie itself is judged as if the offender had no past and no future.

For Kant the act of lying is a weakness in the reasoning of the liar. Kant would consider that person to be morally deficient in reasoning developement. I would say that Kant says liars are morally and ethically deprived of reason and don’t even have the excuse of blaming their actions on nature. Only a man can lie. And a liar is devoid of the God head within him.

from Kant Selections, Edited by Theodore M Greene. Actually, nothing was paraphrased. His thoughts are from his section on Ethics.




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Nora K Anthony

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