Is, Ought, Kant, Can: Journey of Gratitude – Day 08

Copyright Tam Black 2015 Designed for
Copyright Tam Black 2015
Designed for

Guiding Thought

I seek only to Love in Unity. Love is Pure in Oneness. Let me Love All including myself in Oneness, that I may Know gratitude as the result of Being Whole in Love.


Immanuel Kant talks a lot about the “is” and “ought” – who people are, and who they ought to be, the Present moment and the future Ideal. It’s kind of the Kantian version of being and becoming.

In his essay on Universal History, he talks about this in the context of History. History has a Purpose, which propels humankind forward. For Kant, Nature is this Ultimate Purpose, the Immortal Expanse, all that humankind is moving toward. He says “man” must first choose to become the master of his own “universe”, the master of his own life before he can serve Nature’s Ultimate Purpose.

Even so, nature is always in charge. Regardless of human struggle, regardless of friends or foes, competition, gain, or survival everyone is simply in Nature’s plan.

Yet, the relationship between humans and Nature is dialectic: Nature is only fulfilled through Human striving, and human striving is fulfilled by Nature. Both are changed by each other. Fulfillment occurs only through each other.

The stimulus for this striving is antagonism. Through antagonism people become motivated to make things better. This becomes the tension between the “is” and the “ought” – the way things are, and the way people want them to be. This tension is both within man (between “animal instinct” and reason) and outside of man, in the imperfect institutions, economic, and social systems he creates.

People can’t escape the “is”, the antagonism, or the propulsion of Nature; humankind is just moving forward through the influence of these unseen forces.

So what can humans do? Can they control anything? Or are we all just caught up, uncontrollably in this movement?

Why did I go into a mini Kant lesson? It really describes how I’ve been feeling.

There’s something pulling me forward through tension, antagonism, and strife. I feel the pull, I can even imagine the “ought” – I can see there is something better, right up there, just around that corner…I’m headed to it, I know I am; yet here I am, caught in the is that is the tension moving me forward. I know there’s a purpose. Whatever this is, I know there’s a purpose.

Is there anything I can do? Or am I just caught up, uncontrollably in the movement?

According to Kant, I can become the master of my own little universe, and then my little universe can serve the purpose of Nature.

That’s according to Kant. I…need to think about this “solution” in my own terms.

For me, Love is the purpose. Love is what propels humankind forward. Love has an Ultimate end: itself. The tension/antagonism arises when I/people resist Love and its purpose, or choose something that is Not-Love or its purpose.

With this, I’ve been thinking a lot about purity and clarity. I feel like they are necessary for my current growth, for making my way through the antagonism and tension. Purity to me represents the purpose (the Ultimate end, the “ought”, Universal History, Nature, Love). Clarity is how well I see that purpose, how well I see through the antagonism, in order to move toward the purpose; there are always blind spots. I can only ever make the best decision I am able to, with the information I have.

But my intention, even within the strife of antagonism, can guide me.

I want only what is pure; pure love, wholly love.

When my intention now is the same as the purpose, I find greater clarity. It’s like two magnets are lining up, a magnet for the “is” and a magnet for the “ought”. They pull toward each other, in cooperation with purpose, because what the “is” wants, and what the “ought” wants are the same. It’s not that antagonism or strife go away, it’s more that the path through it becomes cleared.