Comparing the Bhagavad-Gita and Kant

This paper examines the often-mentioned similarity in comparative moral philosophy between the Hindu Text Bhagavad-Gita’s notion of duty and Kant’s notion of duty. It is commonly argued that they are similar in their deontological nature where one is asked to perform one’s duty for the sake of duty only. I consider three related questions from Gita’s and Kant’s perspectives. First, What is the source of our duties: Self or Nature; second, How do we know that an act x is our duty, and third, What would be an acceptable example of a duty. In all these three cases I show that their respective answers diverge quite clearly and conclude by arguing that the reason for this divergence lies in their respective contexts: while the ideal of Kantian morality is to become a member of the ‘kingdom of ends’, the aims of the Gita’s system of duties are the sustenance of the social order and the realization of one’s identity with the Supreme Self
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