The Categorical Imperative of Speed: Acceleration as Moral Duty

  • Thomas SutherlandEmail author


The Kantian model of ethics is premised upon the apodictic certainty of a law of pure practical reason, which is in turn the foundation for an absolute transcendental freedom. This law, the categorical imperative, is posited by Kant as irreducible to any empirically determined judgement of desire, imagining the rational human being to be ultimately autonomous in relation to any empirical determination. In this chapter, I wish to argue that such a conception of morality has become more and more implausible in an age of ubiquitous technical mediation; instead, we find ourselves in thrall to a moral law that is imposed upon us by an economic and socio-technical apparatus unconcerned with the finite temporalities of human thought and action: namely, a categorical imperative of speed, which incessantly pushes us towards an interminable acceleration of our labour and our everyday practices, treating the elimination of temporal lag as a moral duty. This imperative positions humans not as ends in themselves, but as the means for pursuing a teleology premised upon an abstract and unsustainable calculation of efficiency.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lincoln School of Film and MediaUniversity of LincolnLincolnUK

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