Concepts of freedom and morality gained a lot of momentum during the Enlightenment period. The Enlightenment period saw a shift from the main line of thinking from religion to reason. Because of this shift of the dominant ideologies, philosophers attempted to explain morality through empirical means rather than attributing morality to God. Two of the most influential philosophers of this period were Immanuel Kant and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. This essay will show how Kant’s perspective of freedom and morality was inspired by Rousseau and how the way in which Kant’s view of freedom relates to his idea of the moral law is due to his view of autonomy. To demonstrate how Kant’s notion of freedom is related to his view of the Moral Law I will outline the views held by Rousseau and how these influenced, or even emerged in both Kant’s perspectives on freedom and the moral law.
It was the aim of the Enlightenment philosophers to create a new understanding of morality. Enlightenment thinkers wanted to move away from a metaphysical understanding of the law because it fails to provide an adequate understanding. According to Rousseau, moral behaviour can be achieved through reason and reason alone:
“All justice comes from God, who is sole source; but if we knew how to government nor laws. Doubtless, there is a universal justice emanating from reason alone; but this justice, to be admitted among us, must be mutual.”
What this argument appears to be saying is that there is an absolute…