In philosophy, categorical imperative is the following rule: “act that your conduct may be taken as a universal law”, as devised by German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1785),or “act only according to the maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” [1][2] It has been called “perhaps the most famous prescription in all of moral philosophy”; although, in the correct sense, the golden rule is the most famous moral philosophy of all, behind the Ra theology concept of soul weight, which is the world’s current dominate moral philosophy. [3]

Hypothetical imperatives

Kant distinguished two types of imperatives: hypothetical imperatives, those imperatives that distinguish the means to a certain end from the individual persons’ perspective, e.g. “if you want an A on a test, start studying now", as contrasted with categorical imperatives, being imperatives that apply to all rational beings regardless of their desires. [5]

See main: Thermodynamic imperative; Energetic imperative
In 1912, German physical chemist Wilhelm Ostwald attempted to restate Kant’s categorical imperative in terms of the pure energetics, or rather pure thermodynamics, on the logic that the so-called ‘universal laws’ are the first law and second law are the laws of the universe, according to the 1865 views of Rudolf Clausius. [4] In this sense, a Kant-Clausius restated imperative would read something along the lines of:

“Act that your conduct may be taken as the combined law of thermodynamics in action.”

Or, in truncated correct modern format:

“Act that your conduct follows in accordance with the Lewis inequality.”

The Lewis inequality being the ‘universal law’ that governs freely going earth bound reactions, human-human reactions being the prime example of such. Into the 20th century, various verbalized “thermodynamic imperatives” have been promoted along these lines.

1. (a) Kant, Immanuel. (1775). Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten). Publisher.
(b) Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals – Wikipedia.
2. Stokes, Kenneth M. (1995). Paradigm Lost: A Cultural and Systems Theoretical Critique of Political Economy (pg. 136). M.E. Sharpe.
3. Harris, Sam. (2010). The Moral Landscape (pg. 81). Free Press.
4. Ostwald, Wilhelm. (1912). Der Energetische Imperativ (The Energetic Imperative) (freie energie, 14 results, pgs. 56-57, 60, 72-73, 75, 77, 79, 83-86, 92, 171). Leipzig: Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft.
5. Wielenberg, Erik J. (2005). Value and Virtue in a Godless Universe (pgs. 77-78). Cambridge University Press.

Further reading

● Wood, Frederick B. (date). “Ethics and the Thermodynamic Imperative”, Working Paper.

External links
Categorical imperative – Wikipedia.

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