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II.

(Lecture I., page 10.)

KANT’S RECOGNITION OF THE MORAL LAW.

“Two things there are, which, the oftener and the more steadfastly we consider, fill the mind with an ever-new, an ever-rising admiration and reverence—the starry heaven above, the moral law within. Of neither am I compelled to seek out the reality, as veiled in darkness, or only to conjecture the possibility, as beyond the hemisphere of my knowledge. Both I contemplate lying clear before me, and connect both immediately with my consciousness of 207existence. The one departs from the place I occupy in the outer world of sense; expands, beyond the bounds of imagination, this connection of my body with worlds rising beyond worlds, and systems blending into systems; and protends it also into the illimitable times of their periodic movement—to its commencement and perpetuity. The other departs from my invisible self, from my personality; and represents me in a world, truly infinite indeed, but whose infinity can be tracked out only by the intellect, with which also my connection, unlike the fortuitous relation I stand in to all worlds of sense, I am compelled to recognise as universal and necessary. In the former, the first view of a countless multitude of worlds annihilates, as it were, my importance as an animal product, which, after a brief and that incomprehensible endowment with the powers of life, is compelled to refund its constituent matter to the planet—itself an atom in the universe—on which it grew. The other, on the contrary, elevates my worth as an intelligence even without limit; and this through my personality, in which the moral law reveals a faculty of life independent of my animal nature—nay, of the whole material world,—at least if it be permitted to infer as much from the regulation of my being, which a conformity with that law exacts; proposing, as it does, my moral worth for the absolute end of my activity, conceding no compromise of its imperative to a necessitation of nature, and spurning, in its infinity, the conditions and boundaries of my present transitory life.”—Hamilton’s ‘Lectures on Metaphysics,’ i. 39, 40. The passage is the first paragraph of the conclusion (Beschluss) of the ‘Kritik 208der Praktischen Vernunft,’ and will be found in vol. viii. p. 312 of Kant’s ’Sämmtliche Werke’ (Leipzig, 1838).

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