The first obstacle for students is figuring out what Kant is actually saying - and it is entirely understandable that they would encounter serious difficulties and frustrations when attempting to make sense out of what they see on the page! Once they do understand just what all the jargon means, then there is the further difficulty involved in wrapping their minds around what Kant is proposing, arguing, criticizing, distinguishing.
If you've ever tackled Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals - or if you'd like to try your hand at one of the most important and influential works of Ethics - then I have something you might find very useful, a series of 21 short videos covering the entirety of that very work!
Originally, I created these core concept videos to assist my face-to-face and online college students get more out of their study of Kant's deontological moral theory in my classes. Some of the early ones in this series were actually recorded in the classroom. Then, I began producing additional ones in front of my chalkboard in our old apartment in New York. The last nine videos were shot and uploaded more recently. So, you'll notice that the later ones have higher video and sound quality - but the content is all quite solid!
The first three have to do with some preliminary discussions at the beginning of the work, focusing on some of the key aspects of Kant's moral theory - and distinguishing it from other approaches.
- The Good Will (Groundwork, sec 1)
- Is Reason for Happiness or For Duty? (Groundwork, sec 1)
- The Notion of Duty (Groundwork, sec 1)
Then we get into some ideas that are really central to the perspective articulated in the work.
- Three Types of Imperatives (Groundwork, sec 2)
- Universal Rules and Making Exceptions (Groundwork, sec 2)
- Means, Ends, Value, and Human Dignity (Groundwork, sec 2)
One of Kant's main contributions is what is termed the "categorical imperative". We look at the first formulation, and some useful examples, contributed partly by Kant, partly by myself.
- The First Formulation of the Categorical Imperative (Groundwork, sec 2)
- Kant's Examples of the First Formulation (Groundwork, sec 2)
- More Examples of the First Formulation (Groundwork, sec 2)
Kant has a second formulation of the categorical imperative as well.
- Second Formulation of the Categorical Imperative (Groundwork, sec 2)
- Kant's Examples of the Second Formulation (Groundwork, sec 2)
- More Examples of the Second Formulation (Groundwork, sec 2)
Then we finish up the second section of the work, looking at the third formulation, and several other related topics.
- The Third Formulation of the Categorical Imperative (Groundwork, sec. 2)
- Three Modes of Presenting The Principle of Morality (Groundwork, sec. 2)
- Heteronomy and Spurious Principles of Morality (Groundwork, sec. 2)
- Freedom of The Will (Groundwork, sec. 2)
The third section of the work outlines the intersection between moral theory and metaphysics, looking at the human person as a being both determined by natural laws and as a free agent.
- The Thing In-Itself and the Free Human Being (Groundwork, sec. 3)
- The Faculties or Reason, Understanding, and Sense (Groundwork, sec. 3)
- How Categorical Imperatives Are Possible (Groundwork, sec. 3)
- The Dialectic of Reason in the Groundwork (Groundwork, sec. 3)
- The Limits of Practical Philosophy (Groundwork, sec. 3)
Hopefully, if your goal is to study Kant's Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals - or even just to understand the general outlines of Kant's deontological moral theory - you find these videos a helpful resource! If you do find that you need additional help, I provide 1-on-1 tutorial sessions.
If you appreciate the time, work, and thought involved in creating these resources on Kant - which is just a portion of the work I do online to make philosophy accessible to learners worldwide - check out my Patreon page, and consider becoming a supporter of my crowdfunded work!
I am considering incorporating these videos into an online course in the ReasonIO Academy - along with handouts, worksheets, lesson pages, quizzes, discussion forums, and other resources. Quite likely that would be coming out in the Fall or Winter of 2017.