Kant's Theistic Solution to the Problem of Transcendental Theology

1. The Problem of Transcendental Theology Kant's transcendental philosophy begins with an attempt to solve the theoretical problem of the possibility of synthetic a priori judgments. In solving this epistemological problem Kant demonstrates how transcendental knowledge (i.e., knowledge of the synthetic a priori conditions for the possibility of experience) is possible only when its application is confined to the realm of empirical knowledge (i.e., to experience). He argues that space, time, and the twelve categories form the transcendental boundary line between what we can and cannot know. But this 'solution' itself calls attention to an even more significant problem: what is the status of that which lies outside the boundary of possible empirical knowledge? Kant reveals as early as CPR xxix xxxi1 that this metaphysical problem of how to verify the fundamental human ideas of 'God, freedom, and immortality', upon which he believes all religion and morality depend, constitutes the deepest and most urgent form of the 'transcendental problem'. It should therefore come as no surprise when he devotes the entire Transcendental Dialectic, the largest section of the first Critique, to the task of solving this ubiquitous perplexity of human reason. According to Kant our ideas of God, freedom, and immortality inevitably arise in the human mind as a result of our attempts to unify and systematize our empirical knowledge. In other words, reason naturally seeks for something beyond the limits of empirical knowledge which can supply unity and coherence to the diversity of facts which fall within that boundary. The problem is that the transcendental conditions which enable us to gain knowledge in the empirical world are unable to perform their function with respect to such ideas, because the ideas abstract from all sensible content, whereas the transcendental conditions (space, time and the categories) all require such content. As is well known, Kant devoted considerable effort in the Transcendental Dialectic to the task of pointing out the implications of this transcendental problem for rational psychology (with its proofs of the immortality of the soul), rational cosmology (with its proofs of transcendental freedom), and rational theology (with its proofs of the existence of God)..
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