Groundlaying: Kant's Search for the Highest Principle of Morality

presents Immanuel Kant's

Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten

eine Sammlung aus vier Auflagen und zwei Űbersetzungen


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Version: 0.97
Copyright ©2015 by Stephen Orr. All rights reserved.
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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128 [4:463]
[Scholar translation: Orr]
[Student translation: Orr]
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128 [4:463]
[Scholar translation: Orr]
[Student translation: Orr]
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[Scholar translation: Orr]
[Student translation: Orr]
Mode: Standard Multi-page Multi-edition Multi-multi
Menu Search Glossary Supplement Edit Help Welcome to the web app for Kant's Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten, which he first published in 1785.
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Help: gms_webapp (beta version 0.97) X

Basic Usage

Select an edition (1785, 1786, etc.) at the top of the browser window. Put a page number (iii-xvi, 1-128, 387-463) in the navigation textbox. Press the Enter key. Preferences (for colors, etc.) can be set via the Edit button at the bottom of the browser window.


There are four modes: standard, multi-page, multi-edition, and multi-multi. These modes can be selected from the bar at the bottom of the screen.

  • Standard mode is the default. It fills the screen with a single page from a single edition or with dual-language columns.
  • Multi-page mode fills the screen with three pages from a single edition. In Multi-page mode, it is not possible to change to another edition when a particular text column is selected; this is why the edition buttons dim.
  • Multi-edition mode fills the screen with the "same" three pages from three editions. In Multi-edition mode, it is not possible to change to another page when a particular text column is selected; this is why the page navigation textbox dims.
  • Multi-multi mode displays any three pages from any three editions. In this mode, it is possible to change to any edition and to any page.

Six individual editions are available:

  1. First Edition (1785)
  2. Second Edition (1786)
  3. Emended Second Edition (1786v)
  4. Academy Edition (1903)
  5. Scholar Translation (Sc)
  6. Student Translation (St)

There are also two dual-language editions which combine the emended second edition (1786v) with either of the translations:

  1. German-English Scholar Translation (Ksc)
  2. German-English Student Translation (Kst)

There are four major moveable windows that provide additional tools for studying the Grundlegung and using this web app:

  1. Search window enables a text search of all six editions
  2. Glossary window provides a searchable listing of German words and, for students, an accordian of important terms
  3. Supplement window provides summary, analysis, and commentary for students
  4. Edit window adds note-taking capability and customization of the web app's interface and behavior
  5. Help window displays this help information

The Menu button toggles access to an interactive menu acting as a table of contents. This menu has a separate layer or row for the four German-language editions; the English translations share a single layer of the menu. Each menu can be expanded and collapsed, and the visibility of various menu items can be turned on or off via the Menu Options button attached to each layer of the menu.

Prepared with students in mind, the Student Supplement offers summaries of paragraphs and headings, surface analysis of the text, and unsophisticated commentary that avoids the secondary literature.

  • a puts focus on the 1903 (Academy edition) button
  • b directs the web app to go back to the previous page
  • c puts focus on the column selector combobox
  • d puts focus on the Standard mode button
  • e puts focus on the Edit button
  • f directs the web app to go forward to the next page
  • g puts focus on the Glossary button
  • h puts focus on the Help button
  • k puts focus on the Kant-Scholar (Ksc) button
  • l puts focus on the Supplement button
  • m puts focus on the Menu button
  • o puts focus on the Scholar button
  • p puts focus on the navigation (page number) textbox
  • r puts focus on a column or page resizer handle
  • s puts focus on the Search button
  • t puts focus on the editable titlebar text
  • u puts focus on the Student button
  • v puts focus on the 1786v button (provided focus is not on an element (e.g., a textbox) that accepts text input)
  • 3 puts focus on the 1785 button (provided focus is not on an element (e.g., a textbox) that accepts text input)
  • 5 puts focus on the 1785 button (provided focus is not on an element (e.g., a textbox) that accepts text input)
  • 6 puts focus on the 1786 button (provided focus is not on an element (e.g., a textbox) that accepts text input)

These shortcuts work provided that the focus is not on an element that accepts keyboard input. For example, if you have the Search window open and are entering the search term, typing a 'p' will not put focus on the page number textbox; focus will remain with the Search window's textbox.

The Search, Glossary, Supplement, Edit, and Help windows can be moved around the screen. As with most actions in the web app, this movement can be accomplished either with the mouse or with the keyboard alone. To move the windows with the mouse, click and drag the window's titlebar. To move the windows with the keyboard, make sure the window's titlebar has the focus (which it gains automatically when any one of the windows is first opened), and then move the window up, down, left, or right with the arrow keys.

By accessing the Preferences pane in the Edit window, the web app can be customized in several ways:

  1. Colors to customize, for instance, the background and text
  2. Sizes to change, for example, the margins
  3. Behaviors to set preferences for web app functions such as remembering the last location

Making these customizations is straightforward, except perhaps for changing the colors. To change these, you must first put a check in the checkbox to the right of the item you wish to affect. Then select a color from the color pallete. By default, once a color is selected, the checkbox will be automatically unchecked (but this default behavior can be changed).

There are some features of the web app which you probably will not find except by accident:
  1. You can type a very short note in the upper left corner. To do this, click on 'Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten' and type your note in the prompt that appears. 'Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten' will be replaced with whatever you typed.
  2. Hovering your mouse pointer over a line will pop up a tooltip giving matching page and line numbers in other German-language editions.
  3. Hovering your mouse pointer over the page number at the bottom of a "page" will produce a tooltip giving the edition from which the page comes. The translations are of the emended second edition; so the tooltip will show '1786v' in those cases.
  4. With the focus on the navigation (page number) textbox for page numbers, pressing the ? will pop up a modal dialog that displays a matching page number or line number for other editions.
  5. Hovering your mouse pointer over the textbox for page numbers will pop up a tooltip giving matching page or line numbers in other editions
  6. Hovering your mouse pointer over the status message on the right side of the bar at the bottom of the browser window will produce a popup with the complete message; clicking on it will launch a modal dialog with the message.
  7. In Multi-edition mode, you can click on a German-language line in order to highlight the matching line in other editions. Clicking any highlighted line will remove the highlights.

There are several ways to get to a particular page in a particular edition. One way is to select the edition first, then type the desired page number in the navigation textbox, and then press Enter. Another way is to type the page number and then select the edition. The background color of the textbox is informative; assuming the default colors:

  1. red indicates that the location does not exist in any edition.
  2. yellow indicates that the location exists in another edition.
  3. green indicates that the location exists in the currently selected edition.

In Multi-edition mode, the background color of the navigation textbox is white by default.

In German-language editions only, a line pointer appears automatically whenever both an existing page and line are submitted to the textbox displaying page numbers. As long as this feature has not been disabled in Preferences, it appears even when line numbers have been disabled.

Text columns (i.e., "pages") can be horizontally resized by sliding the rectangular resizers positioned above the area between columns. This sliding motion can be accomplished either by clicking and dragging a resizer, or by using the plus and minus keys (or the arrow keys) when the resizer has the focus. Resizers can gain focus by being clicked on, tabbed to, or by pressing the r key.

The note-taking capability of the web app has four main features:

  1. New - create a new note by entering a title and content. The title must be unique; titles already in use are given in the list on the left side of the window. By default, clicking on one of the titles in the list will load the form with the clicked-on note's title and content. This default behavior allows new notes to be created easily from existing notes (as in performing a "save as" or "rename" action).
  2. Modify - change the content of an existing note after clicking on its title in the list.
  3. View - examine one or more notes. The list of titles allows multiple selections so that you can view more than one note at once.
  4. Delete - remove one or more notes. As with the View capability, multiple selections are possible.

It is very important to know that all notes will be deleted by the browser if the browser's cache is cleared. You should also be aware that the web app will not remind you to save a new or modified note.

The Menu of Contents can be accessed by clicking on the Menu button. Enter each layer of the menu by clicking on it. By default, only pages and subsections are shown. More, or less, information can be displayed by accessing the Menu Options dialog that is attached to each of the five major layers of the menu.

Immanuel Kant wrote the Grundlegung.
Stephen Orr created this web app without any public funding.
Many other people worked on the programming languages, software, and hardware infrastructure that provide the groundwork for this web app.
This work is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

This particular Creative Commons license basically permits you to use the web app as you please provided that:

  • the web app's files and derivative works are not used for commercial purposes
  • the web app's files and derivative works are properly attributed to the people who have previously worked on them
  • any modified web app files and derivative works are given the same license

By releasing the web app under this license, my hope is that other scholars and interested parties will make further improvements and innovations so that high-quality versions of Kant's Grundlegung will remain freely available on the internet for a long time to come. The code is pure, native JavaScript and uses no libraries. Although the code does of course make use of built-in JavaScript objects and is event-driven, it is written in an old-fashioned linear programming style, not an object-oriented idiom, and uses no advanced techniques. I hope this makes the code more easily modifiable by other scholars who may only have a passing acquaintance with programming.

Stephen Orr holds the copyright to this web app and all of its content except Kant's German words.
This web app has no warranty and provides no guarantees of any kind.
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