I was recently at my local library’s book sale and came across a set of Harvard Classics that I could not pass up. I bought them and began to read Immanuel Kant’s, Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysic of Morals. Mr. Kant can be pretty dense and obscure. Reading his writings reminds me of a line by the comic, Steve Martin, who believed he had taken just enough philosophy to screw him up for the rest of his life. Reading Mr. Kant can have a similar effect.
Nonetheless, Immanuel Kant can be pretty easy to understand (sometimes) and there were a few brief moments of pure, lucid thought that I could follow. I found the following interesting…
“In the kingdom of ends everything has either Value or Dignity. Whatever has a value can be replaced by something else which is equivalent; whatever, on the other hand, is above all value, and therefore admits of no equivalent, has a dignity.
Whatever has reference to the general inclinations and wants of mankind has a market value; whatever, without presupposing a want, corresponds to a certain taste, that is to a satisfaction in the mere purposeless play of our faculties, has a fancy value; but that which constitutes the condition under which alone anything can be an end in itself, this has not merely a relative worth, i.e., value, but an intrinsic worth, that is dignity.”
As traders we always deal with the concept of value and price. Stocks can have market value and fancy value. I find it interesting that the word and concept Mr. Kant uses is “dignity” for something which is beyond value. As a trader this tells me to short fancy value and go long dignity.