Kant and Camus: The is and the ought

Last year I was reading the giving The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein to my nephew,

German Philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)
German Philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

around five at the time. In the book, a tree sacrifices everything for a particular boy who gradually grows into into an old man. First simple things, like leaves, but by the conclusion, the tree is a stump with nothing left to give.

I closed the book, just like my dad did when I was a kid. “Believe it or not,” I said. Henry snuggled next to me with Eddy the Elephant and closed his eyes. The house was quiet, his brothers asleep in bed, his parents downstairs. Then, in the most innocent voice—as if he were asking for a cookie—he asked, “Why do people die?”

“I don’t know,” I said. It hurt to say it, but I couldn’t lie.

And I don’t think I’ll ever know. I may be able to craft a very elegant “I don’t know,” but in the end, that’s all it will be.

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