Treating People As Ends In Themselves Is Very Important

  “ Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end and never merely as a means to an end. ”

—Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals


I have noticed that i experience pain when being treated as a means to an end by others. It feels as if I have been denied my humanity by them. As if i do not matter. I would not want to do this to anyone else. I think that the more it is done the more damage is done and the more people do it to others. This is therefore very important in terms of understanding what is wrong with The World. 


koyptakh koyptakh 51-55, M 15 Responses Oct 10, 2009

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Hi neeran

Good one Neeran


Give respect and take respect. Good one Koyptakh!

Hi 23rdcamp

I understand codependency as happening when a person sustains another person in their addiction or negative behavior. I can see how Kant would help here. He demands we treat others as we would ourselves but also that we treat ourselves as would treat others. Many people who care for others treat themselves in a way they would not dream of doing to another. Respect works both ways and makes both better. Being respectful of humanity is demanding all round but without that respect for self and others is inconsistent with acting in a moral fashion.


Now I understand it deeper and agreeable to the thought. Sure help me deal with my codependency issues, lol. :P

Thanks for sharing this and for the further explaining the idea. Thank you too june1999!

Hi avalonleppard

What a question! Hope i do not confuse you more! If I do ask again until I make sense as it is an important concept.

Kant stated that rational beings can pursue certain "ends" using the appropriate "means." An "end in itself" is an end that is a means only to itself and not to some other need, desire, or purpose. By reserving for personal interaction treating people as ends in themselves he was saying they are the same as you. Also that you are important too. Here he was defining how to behave - his moral philosophy. He was very significant and changed the World of ideas.

To treat a person, including yourself as an end in itself is to have respect for the person's humanity. Many do not respect either themselves or their right to be happy even. It is important they should and treat others as equally significant.

To treat a person as a means to an end is to treat them as a thing or a nothing. It is to use them and not respect them. People are more and using people lessens your humanity away as well as their humanity.


Posted Oct 11th, 2009 at 2:20AM

Hi Asevan

I am not preaching or even talking about the divine but I know it seems sort of like that to say each person is important and worthy of respect as are each of ourselves from ourselves. It is to elevate people but not to Gods but to humans. Quite! What you say is exactly it. Each person is full of poignancy and soul. You are alive to that probably because you have soul. Perhaps the point is to treat ourselves and each other as if we did have a soul and it does matter what we do.

Personally I think that Time is a spatial dimension and so whatever we do lasts for ever whatever that means so each life is frozen across space time. Like a fantastic firework display set to music that is for ever.

We are alone and to meet another mind and person is significant hey! First you have to know yourself!


Hi TheOnlyConstantIsChange

I am by nature an optimist. Just because something is frightening does not make it untrue and nor does it make it inevitable. Treat a person as you wish them to become. Also treat The world as you wish it to become. Nothing can resist the power of thought. It is exciting! Also maybe sad. Still it is what is wrong and what needs to be corrected. I am pleased to have my viewpoint confirmed. Thank you.


Hi StudentofUnifyingLife and Mother2009

yes very powerful. I can honestly say it has haunted me my entire life since I first read it. It is so powerful. It sets the basic form of personal interaction. It combines with another equally powerful categorical imperative:

"Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."

This is a variation on the Golden Rule of Philosophy that we shout treat others as we would wish to be treated.

In combination I believe the two simple maxims contain a whole world view. I have been trapped by them ever since I read them.


Hi TheOnlyConstantIsChange

I agree "Odd that this is something I think of as normal nowadays". I think on an individual basis it is the norm of social interaction. Kant wrote a long time ago and maybe that bus has departed never to return. I decided to live my way this way because I could not use and be used. It seems to me a Society without this basic node of humanity at it's basic level of individual interaction is doomed - as ours seems to be!

I have only come to this insight recently. I have met many people here on ep in particular who I would be proud to be in society with but it has also made me reflect on others in real life and here on ep too. Why are people as they are: rude and nasty and cynical? Well it is because they use people as entertainment. They do not see a human being in themselves or in others!


awesome quote

Hi 23rdcamp

I think this is a very demanding idea. It is also very tolerant because it demands that each person is equally valuable and worthy of respect. it demands a lot of each person, including yourself. It is the basis for the end of the War between human beings. The lack of it is the cause of The War. To me it is not negotiable.

I was taken with this idea when I met it. It seems to me the only basis for human relationships. The alternative is for people to use each other as their power sees fit. I do not accept people who do this have that right over me - or me over them. I would not want such power and deny them the right to have it over me or anyone else.

A person may well not want to be treated as an end feeling incapable of the burden. A person may well not want to treat others as ends seeing personal advantage for themselves from dominating others.

i think this idea is both entirely consistent with Democracy and indeed has been absorbed into our modern view of how people should deal with each other as an ideal. It is not much practiced on an individual basis and it must be in my view.


Hi 23rdcamp,

Not necessarily. At least not in my opinion, I don't know if koyptakh will agree with me or not.

But it's more about being able to accept what's what and at the same time, know what we deserve and move on if you're not getting it, being at peace with things, too, at the same time.

Hi June1999

Fellow spirit! I think that it is helpful to understand what should be the nature of relationships between people and then also what is the everyday experience. People treat each other as means to ends. I cannot act other than as I do and they cannot understand it or share it or value it and must destroy it. That is consistent with my experience of social interaction so perhaps my analysis is correct.

I am without choice having accepted the imperative to treat people as ends. It is not now a preference as such. It is painful to live other than in the company of people who reciprocate and treat me as an end in myself. I suspect my treating people as ends in themselves is painful to them. Sometime pleasurable of course if they treat themselves as ends but otherwise a cruel reminder of what they have surrendered.


This is deep.

uhm..does this mean one shouldn't expect more of others and only accept what other people has to give at this very moment?


There's the spirit, koyptakh!

It is hurtful, it is definitely not nice but like you, I'd prefer rising above it and prove that I will not be the same.