Immanuel Kant claims that a good will is the only thing that can be considered "good without limitation." What does he mean by this?

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brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Kant, the German Philosopher from the 18th century, believed that good did not so much arise out of our experiences, or from agents acting outside the physical self, but that humans through reason had developed morals - a sense of right and wrong - and that a "good will" was intrinsic.  That is to say, humans had a good will, or acted from that good will, because they believed in the moral goodness of an act without any outside motivation to do so.  To put it another way, Kant was saying that true goodness comes from the heart, not because of some reward or fear, so that goodness of the human heart is unlimited because its source is within us.  It's a very interesting and hopeful idea.

mkcapen1 | Student

Immanuel Kant is a well known Western philosopher who came up with the reasoning that morals are morals when engaged in within the framework of social understanding.  One groups idea of morals changes significantly depending on what the social group defines as morals.  Human behavior can only be looked at in terms of morals and value as a struggle between that which is good and that which is evil.

One can not be good without a preset criteria as to what is deemed to be considered.  To have good will means that someone is intrinsically good and therefore, can exhibit good will without any limitations set down by society.  Goodwill is not socially driven but rather has been presented by the inner self with no definition of what constitutes good or evil.