Imperfect duties are circumstantial, meaning simply that you could not reasonably exist in a constant state of performing that duty. This is what truly differentiates between perfect and imperfect duties, because imperfect duties are those duties that are never truly completed. A particular example provided by Kant is the imperfect duty to cultivate one's own talents. Every rational action must set before itself not only a principle, but also an end. Most ends are of a subjective kind, because they need only be pursued if they are in line with some particular hypothetical imperative that a person may choose to adopt.
For an end to be objective, it would be necessary that we categorically pursue it. The free will is the source of all rational action. But to treat it as a subjective end is to deny the possibility of freedom in general. Because the autonomous will is the one and only source of moral action, it would contradict the first formulation to claim that a person is merely a means to some other end, rather than always an end in themselves. By combining this formulation with the first, we learn that a person has perfect duty not to use the humanity of themselves or others merely as a means to some other end.
As a slave owner would be effectively asserting a moral right to own a person as a slave, they would be asserting a property right in another person. But this would violate the categorical imperative because it denies the basis for there to be free rational action at all; it denies the status of a person as an end in themselves.
One cannot, on Kant's account, ever suppose a right to treat another person as a mere means to an end.
In the case of a slave owner, the slaves are being used to cultivate the owner's fields the slaves acting as the means to ensure a sufficient harvest the end goal of the owner. The second formulation also leads to the imperfect duty to further the ends of ourselves and others. If any person desires perfection in themselves or others, it would be their moral duty to seek that end for all people equally, so long as that end does not contradict perfect duty. Kant claims that the first formulation lays out the objective conditions on the categorical imperative: Likewise, the second formulation lays out subjective conditions: A universal maxim, however, could only have this form if it were a maxim that each subject by himself endorsed.
Because it cannot be something which externally constrains each subject's activity, it must be a constraint that each subject has set for himself. This leads to the concept of self -legislation. Each subject must through his own use of reason will maxims which have the form of universality, but do not impinge on the freedom of others: The result, of course, is a formulation of the categorical imperative that contains much of the same as the first two. We must will something that we could at the same time freely will of ourselves. After introducing this third formulation, Kant introduces a distinction between autonomy literally: This third formulation makes it clear that the categorical imperative requires autonomy.
It is not enough that the right conduct be followed, but that one also demands that conduct of oneself. In the Groundwork , Kant goes on to formulate the categorical imperative in a number of different ways following the first three; however, because Kant himself claims that there are only three principles,  little attention has been given to these other formulations. Moreover, they are often easily assimilated to the first three formulations, as Kant takes himself to be explicitly summarizing these earlier principles.
There is, however, one additional formulation that has received a lot of additional attention because it appears to introduce a social dimension into Kant's thought. This is the formulation of the "Kingdom of Ends":. Because a truly autonomous will would not be subjugated to any interest, it would only be subject to those laws it makes for itself — but it must also regard those laws as if they would be bound to others, or they would not be universalizable, and hence they would not be laws of conduct at all. Thus Kant presents the notion of the hypothetical Kingdom of Ends of which he suggests all people should consider themselves never solely as means but always as ends.
We ought to act only by maxims that would harmonize with a possible kingdom of ends. We have perfect duty not to act by maxims that create incoherent or impossible states of natural affairs when we attempt to universalize them, and we have imperfect duty not to act by maxims that lead to unstable or greatly undesirable states of affairs.
Although Kant was intensely critical of the use of examples as moral yardsticks, because they tend to rely on our moral intuitions feelings rather than our rational powers, this section will explore some applications of the categorical imperative for illustrative purposes.
Kant asserted that lying, or deception of any kind, would be forbidden under any interpretation and in any circumstance. In the Groundwork , Kant gives the example of a person who seeks to borrow money without intending to pay it back.
This is a contradiction because if it were a universal action, no person would lend money anymore as he knows that he will never be paid back. The maxim of this action, says Kant, results in a contradiction in conceivability and thus contradicts perfect duty. With lying, it would logically contradict the reliability of language.
If it were universally acceptable to lie, then no one would believe anyone and all truths would be assumed to be lies.
The right to deceive could also not be claimed because it would deny the status of the person deceived as an end in itself. The theft would be incompatible with a possible kingdom of ends. Therefore, Kant denied the right to lie or deceive for any reason, regardless of context or anticipated consequences. Kant argued that any action taken against another person to which he or she could not possibly consent is a violation of perfect duty interpreted through the second formulation.
If a thief were to steal a book from an unknowing victim, it may have been that the victim would have agreed, had the thief simply asked. However, no person can consent to theft, because the presence of consent would mean that the transfer was not a theft. Because the victim could not have consented to the action, it could not be instituted as a universal law of nature, and theft contradicts perfect duty. Kant applied his categorical imperative to the issue of suicide motivated by a sickness of life in The Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals ,  writing that:.
A man reduced to despair by a series of misfortunes feels sick of life, but is still so far in possession of his reason that he can ask himself whether taking his own life would not be contrary to his duty to himself. Now he asks whether the maxim of his action could become a universal law of nature.
But his maxim is this: There only remains the question as to whether this principle of self-love can become a universal law of nature. One sees at once that a contradiction in a system of nature whose law would destroy life by means of the very same feeling that acts so as to stimulate the furtherance of life, and hence there could be no existence as a system of nature. Therefore, such a maxim cannot possibly hold as a universal law of nature and is, consequently, wholly opposed to the supreme principle of all duty.
Kant also applies the categorical imperative in The Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals on the subject of "failing to cultivate one's talents. The man asks himself how the universality of such a thing works. While Kant agrees that a society could subsist if everyone did nothing, he notes that the man would have no pleasures to enjoy, for if everyone let their talents go to waste, there would be no one to create luxuries that created this theoretical situation in the first place.
Not only that, but cultivating one's talents is a duty to oneself. Thus, it is not willed to make laziness universal, and a rational being has imperfect duty to cultivate its talents. Kant concludes in The Groundwork:. For as a rational being he necessarily wills that all his faculties should be developed, inasmuch as they are given him for all sorts of possible purposes. Kant's last application of the categorical imperative in The Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals is of charity.
I need a woman, a friend, To help bring me to the end. So when the day has passed And my mind has been overcast I can lean on one elbow and remember a girl Who showed me something we could share, Showed me there was nothing to despair, Believed in what I could achieve, Showed me in who I could believe, Who could take me away From all those lonely pints in hotel bars, Late night conversations in parked cars, Evenings by the television, The emptiness that follows physical passion, Who could help me through this unrest And give me strength To see my weakness. And in the late night I remember their names, the nice-looking ones.
And when evening ends in the car in the car-park we embrace. In the darkness I feel your breath, I just wanted love like everyone else. She leans back this she does. In the sweet night I touch her face. I wanted love, like all the rest. The sea is sparkling with summer in the sky June… July…. Across the street, The God particle is almost visible Beyond the universe, over the horizon Begins the start of everything. When I was young I had my fun, Gambling, drinking, that sort of thing. Nobody saw — how can you expect people to see? All my days have dreamed my life away And what I say is reality Could not make true the thoughts I say.
No one gets into my sanity. I am here and then again.
But I am here, and then again I am not. And when you scream at me It seems to me Undermining my identity. Identity crisis, Crisis me. Somehow you must move on in joy, In distress you only destroy.
And everything with its meaning, In all the emptiness and distance No one can join you on your journey No one can touch you-. Why do we exist when there should be nothing in the universe? And if we knew, what difference would it make? You wear the cross, the sower sows, the harvest grows and in the crops circles.
I kissed her soft mouth. She had sweet breath blonde hair, tattoo short skirt, rising legs, fake tan, nice pair. Last night, in the night, we danced. Although Kant conceded that there could be no conceivable example of free will, because any example would only show us a will as it appears to us — as a subject of natural laws — he nevertheless argued against determinism. In fact it does not of itself move even such a quantity of the air as it would move if this part were by itself:
And through the night we dance You wear the cross. The land is bright the way is clear the sower sows, the harvest grows and in the crops circles. The moon circles the trees, through the window the breeze. I remember you holding on, the shape of your mouth, the scented room. The world is all uphill, downhill, are you in it? I rise and fall through the sunlight In my life I have ways of coping in the vastness of space where half of life is not knowing. Along the land I walk; in the sky, another layer of hills, at my feet tangled shadows and branches.
And in the evening, down on the sea-front, that one across the bar kept looking at me. Above me she rose and down she came. Up she rose and down again. Up she rose and down she came. Late last night we danced in the car park and when I woke I was in a church with my father. Last night we danced around clothes and beer bottles. Last night, in the night, we danced. Sometimes I go drinking. Pint in hand, cigarette in the other, fruit machine in the middle.
Sometimes I am unstable, travelling down a bad track. We travel on, only get so far. Sometimes I get away. This effect was first theorized in In the field of verification and design of timed and hybrid systems , the system behaviour is called Zeno if it includes an infinite number of discrete steps in a finite amount of time. In systems design these behaviours will also often be excluded from system models, since they cannot be implemented with a digital controller. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Arrow paradox disambiguation. For other uses, see Achilles and the Tortoise disambiguation.
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