Immanuel Kant defines happiness as what an individual wants, he states that we cannot accurately know what happiness is in general, but we can give some examples that are associated with happiness such as health, sex, wealth, honor, etc. happiness vary from people to people and that is why happiness is accidental and undeterminable. This is the there is no determined concept of the sum of satisfaction under the name of happiness. Moreover, sometimes people wish to be happy, but they are not able to express what they really wish. According to Kant, an individual’s happiness changes from place to place, time to time and according to his development.
Happiness as sensitive contentment
Kant state that happiness is obscure, but at the same time it is very certain obvious. So the Kant’s concept can be summarized as inclination such as desires and pleasures. Kant shows that happiness is the sum of inclination; here the sum of inclination means the objective’s opinion. Kant states that all happiness and sadness is dependent on the individual and the way how he accepts that. According to Kant, the essence of happiness is a delusion.
Concept of happiness is derived from empirical matters, so we need empirical and contingent wisdom to insight the happiness. In Kant’s discussion, happiness is explicitly distinguished from morality. Difference between moral principle and the principle of happiness comes from a subordinate relationship.
The meaning of happiness in the highest good
Kant placed happiness as a major part of the highest good. Kant argues that human beings cannot avoid pursuing happiness. Kant states that happiness on virtue acts on us differently in comparison to the sensitive happiness. We need empirical wisdom from the real world because we generally act with contingent wisdom that is based on the experience.
Kant discusses that morality emerges when one individual has the motivation for following the moral law and happiness in the highest good after following the moral law, so according to this, happiness is not categorical imperative, but it is connected with it.
Kant states that the chains of the usefulness are not in an individual’s hand, but breaking those chains is in our hands. If we break those chains in an appropriate direction, then we can find happiness in the highest good.
Kant also discuss that, the two notations of the real happiness are quite different from each other but according to the real life and development, happiness lies in the base and through this folks can move towards the happiness in the real good.
Generally, people think that Kant denies opposes utilitarianism and denies the value of happiness. But in reality, he only denies the principle of happiness. Moreover, he approves happiness in the highest good and sensitive happiness. The essential notion in Kant’s discussion was happiness in the highest good is always connected with the virtue. However we already discussed that sensitive happiness and happiness in the highest good are totally different from each other, but we have to accept that we cannot reach the latter without the former.