Philosophy’s longest sentences, Part 2

Here is my second contribution to the contest.

Edging out John Stuart Mill’s 161-word effort is the following from Immanuel Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals:

kant_50x64“And then nothing can protect us against a complete falling away from our Ideas of duty, or can preserve in the soul a grounded reverence for its law, except the clear conviction that even if there never have been actions springing from such pure sources, the question at issue here is not whether this or that has happened; that, on the contrary, reason by itself and independently of all appearances commands what ought to happen; that consequently actions of which the world has perhaps hitherto given no example—actions whose practicability might well be doubted by those who rest everything on experience—are nevertheless commanded unrelentingly by reason; and that, for instance, although up to now there may have existed no loyal friend, pure loyalty in friendship can be no less required from every man, inasmuch as this duty, prior to all experience, is contained as duty in general in the Idea of a reason which determines the will by a priori grounds.” (407-408; or pp. 75-76 of the H. J. Paton translation [New York: Harper & Row, 1964])

That’s 163 unrelentingly-commanded words. It is your duty to count them to ascertain my veracity.

9 thoughts on “Philosophy’s longest sentences, Part 2

  • June 22, 2009 at 3:14 pm
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    Somehow I wonder if that sentence is even worth muddling through…I never had a very high opinion of Kant, and I don’t think any better of him after attempting to read that sentence. 🙂

  • Pingback: Stephen Hicks, Ph.D. » Philosophy’s longest sentences, Part 3

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  • November 29, 2009 at 7:18 pm
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    Didn’t Kant write in German.

  • December 15, 2010 at 8:35 pm
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    Savanah, your reply pitifully says more about you then about the Kant. He is regarded by many philosophers as one of the greatest thinkers of all times.

  • September 14, 2011 at 1:23 pm
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    Totally brah, Kant is genius because my professors tell me so, and i don’t question authority unless my peers tell me so!!!

  • September 29, 2013 at 10:37 pm
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    I have found a longer sentence in the ‘B’ Deduction of the Critique of pure reason. It is 174 words. Page 260 in the Paul Guyer translation [Cambridge 1998]. To check against other translations it is B158-159.

    “Just as for the cognition of an object distinct from me I also need an intuition in addition to the thinking of an object in general (in the category), through which I determine that general concepts, so for the cognition of myself I also need an addition to the consciousness, or in addition to that which I think myself, an intuition of the manifold in me, through which I determine this thought; and I exist as an intelligence that is merely conscious of its faculty for combination but which, in regard to the manifold that is to combine, is subject to a limiting condition that it calls inner sense, which can make that combination intuitable only in accordance with temporal relations that lie entirely outside of the concepts of the understanding proper, and that can therefore still cognize itself merely as it appears to itself with regard to an intuition (which is not intellectual and capable of being given through the understanding itself), not as it would cognize itself if its intuitions were intellectual”

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