In Critique of Pure Reason, Kant defines happiness derived by practical and moral law:
Happiness is the satisfaction of all our desires (extensively, in regard to their manifoldness; intensively, in regard to their degree, and also protensively, in regard to their duration). The practical law, derived from the motive of happiness, I call pragmatic (that is, rule of prudence); but the practical law, if there is such a law, which has no other motive but the worthiness to be happy, I call moral (law of morality). The former advises us as to what we have to do if we wish to attain happiness; the latter dictates how we ought to conduct ourselves in order to become worthy of happiness (636, emphasis Kant’s).
When reading this I was reminded of the way in which some of the key members of the Frankfurt School—perhaps all of the members—approach the current problems of self-determination and being a member of society in the world. This also may be in part connected to the Frankfurt School’s concern for genuine happiness. This happiness derived from self-determination seems unable to be achieved in an irrational world. For a society to determine itself under practical and moral laws, it would be necessary that its own conception of reason and its place be better understood.
In his lectures on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, Adorno explains autonomy, Kantian moral and practical law:
What lies behind it [the idea of the critique of pure reason as a tribunal]—and in this respect we cannot really separate Kant’s theoretical philosophy, that is, the critique of reason, from his practical philosophy, the Critique of Pure Reason—is Kant’s remarkable conception which actually supplies the unifying factor that must not be made the subject of mockery, but which must rather be properly understood. It is the idea that the freedom and sovereignty of spirit amounts to what he calls autonomy. This element is represented here by the judge who can freely resolve all these matters; it is the ability to give oneself laws, to restrict oneself and to determine one’s own limits. Autonomy literally means that you give yourself laws—and autonomy is the supreme concept in Kant’s moral philosophy, and by implication also of Kant’s theory of knowledge (54).