What did Nietzsche think of Kant's metaphysics?

Justification of Nietzsche's attacks against Kant in "Der Antichrist"

Essay, 2008

6 pages, grade: 1.0

Reading sample

In the following I would like to use Nietzsche's work The antichrist make clear

in what respect the allegations against Kant's moral conception are justified. I am referring here exclusively to §10 and §11 of the Antichrists and Kant's moral construction in the Basis on the metaphysics of ethics.

Nietzsche intervenes in his work The antichrist not only concerns the German people themselves and their morals, but also takes Kant hard. Nietzsche considers his teachings not only wrong, but also harmful and dangerous. He justifies Kant's large following in the learned world, as he says in §10 that it (the learned world) “consists of three-quarters of pastors and teachers' sons”. And since Nietzsche declared war on theologians and on all those who think similarly, there is no way around criticizing Kant in his work.

In §10 Nietzsche begins by annexing Kant, who comes from a pietistic family, because his morality not only harbors great danger, but also supports theological thinking. He accuses Kant that his morality is also a theologian morality. But that is exactly what Kant wanted to avoid. He, too, was of the opinion that a new morality is needed that is no longer based on a theonomic conception. Because, like many others, he was of the opinion that a morality that is based on nothing provable, namely God, is neither steadfast nor appropriate in our times. In this respect, I see no difference between the two when it comes to the starting point, namely that a new morality is required. But what is reprehensible for Nietzsche is the next step that Kant takes. For Kant begins by basing his entire moral conception on reason, among other things. A reason that he neither defined nor argued in more detail for it. He simply presupposes it as a given fact. And here I have to agree with Nietzsche when he says of Kant's new morality: “(...) if not provable, then no longer refutable ..." Kant's morality, as Nietzsche quite correctly recognizes, cannot be proven. However, it cannot be refuted either, because in order to refute this morality one would first of all have to ask Kant what exactly he meant by the concept of reason and secondly one would have to be able to prove that the will of man is not free. This makes the whole thing a lot more complicated, because neither can be argued for one nor against the other, there is no evidence for either. On the basis of this, however, Nietzsche can then claim that Kant's formulations created a pseudo-reality, a “completely logical world”. Because it is quite obvious that Kant bases his morality on unprovable assumptions. This fact fits perfectly into Nietzsche's picture, the constructed reality of the theologians. And it is therefore easy for him to argue that the theologians' morality is only constructed and created, but not founded. He makes this clear with the example of Kant and finally generalizes it to all German morality.

In §11 Nietzsche then goes on to object to Kant that virtue must come out of oneself and is our only self-defense and need. So he assumes here that Kant's morality is a created morality, but not a morality produced individually by every human being. In doing so, however, he did not take into account that Kant's morality, too, is basically an individually generated one. Because even if the categorical imperative represents a checking mechanism for the generality of one's own maxims, it is one's own maxims that it checks - not those of the general public. He only ensures that they (the maxims) are also acceptable for the general public. However, the core of every maxim lies in ourselves. Nietzsche cannot therefore say at this point that the virtue that Kant demands does not come from within. On the other hand, the objection that virtue or maxims should not be subject to a test mechanism such as the categorical imperative is entirely justified. So it would have been better if Nietzsche had said that the virtue that comes out of you should be and remain as it is and not have to be checked whether the maxims behind it are also suitable for a general public. Because that is exactly what Nietzsche condemns. Consideration for the general public. For him it is utterly reprehensible to orient his own interests or maxims towards a softened generality. Because this would mean the weakness of oneself. And Nietzsche hates weakness.

Another mistake that Nietzsche makes is when he says: "A virtue merely from a feeling of respect for the term" virtue "as Kant wanted it to be harmful." However, Kant by no means claims that the concept of virtue is only used alone out of respect for the concept that evokes virtue. And if Kant does not claim this, Nietzsche cannot say that such behavior is harmful. Because where there is no behavior, nothing can be harmful. What Nietzsche, with good reason, considers harmful is the ubiquitous generalization found in Kant's morality. Because even if the maxims that one has, according to Kant, come out of oneself, the respective maxim must then still be subjected to a test by the categorical imperative. This then filters the actions into a generally transferable behavior or selects them out. In this respect, the morality that one displays is very well a general morality. And this generalization is extremely harmful, according to Nietzsche, since it reveals the weakness that he so hates. One gives oneself an obligation to either do or not to do things. And if one now has a wish, i.e. has a maxim, but realizes that this cannot be transferred to the general public after being checked by the categorical imperative, then one suppresses one's innermost desires. And this, according to Nietzsche, must not happen, because “an action that the instinct of life forces to have its proof of being a right act in pleasure”. So what he is saying is that there is nothing more harmful than suppressing one's actions that arise from instinct. Because the very fact that we have a certain desire justifies our behavior. Kant, on the other hand, is of the opinion that one must ignore the world of the senses and use one's reason. Because reason commands us to be able to lift ourselves above the world of the senses and to be free from what is determined by others. Nietzsche sees this exactly the other way around and means that our instincts or the actions that come from the world of the senses are those that should have the highest justification, because they come out of our deepest, innermost instinct and there can be nothing wrong with that alone. On the other hand, he describes Kant's morality, which makes use of the categorical imperative, as externally determined. Because if you include a general public in your decision, the decision cannot be anything other than externally determined. And he finds this not only reprehensible, but also harmful.


End of the reading sample from 6 pages


Justification of Nietzsche's attacks against Kant in "Der Antichrist"
University of Konstanz
Nietzsche on morality and religion
Isabel Sansiviero (Author)
Catalog number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
508 KB
Nietzsche, Kant, morality, categorical, imperative, reason, antichrist, maxim
Price (eBook)
£ 0,99
Cite work
Isabel Sansiviero (author), 2008, justification of Nietzsche's attacks against Kant in "Der Antichrist", Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/142883