This essay experiments with Kant’s writings on rational religion distilled through the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde as canonical confrontations with primal problems of evil. It suggests boundaries between Stevenson’s characters and their occupations comparable to the those conflicted in the Kantian university, namely, law, medicine, theology, and philosophy (which makes a short anticipatory appearance in his earlier text on rational religion). With various faculties it investigates diffuse comprehensions—respectively, legal crime, biogenetic transmission, and original sin—of key ethical (...) modes: will, inheritance, incorporation, freedom, duty, obligation, love, living, and killing to conclude on the possible logic of evil (or evils of logic) collateral and possibly innate to Kant’s comprehension of radical evil. (shrink)
This is a chronological commentary on Kant’s writings through 1769 whose aim is to reveal that the ‘secret thorn’ driving Kant’s thought through its twists and turns is the scripture-based faith of the German Protestant tradition.
The First Preface to Kant’s Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason contains various characterizations of the distinction between biblical and philosophical theology. Similar characterizations are also found in the Preface to The Conflict of the Faculties. In both, Kant warns the philosopher against trespassing into the purview of the biblical theologian. Yet, in the actual body of both texts, we find numerous occasions where Kant deviates from the rules he initially articulates. The purpose of this paper is to identify (...) these rules, discuss their apparent violations, and consider the implications of this divergence. (shrink)
Kant's Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason is one of the great modern examinations of religion's meaning, function and impact on human affairs. In this volume, the first complete English-language commentary on the work, James J. DiCenso explains the historical context in which the book appeared, including the importance of Kant's conflict with state censorship. He shows how the Religion addresses crucial Kantian themes such as the relationship between freedom and morality, the human propensity to evil, the status of (...) historical traditions in relation to ethical principles, and the interface between individual ethics and social institutions. The major arguments are clearly and precisely explained, and the themes are highlighted and located within Kant's mature critical philosophy, especially his ethics. The commentary will be valuable for all who are interested in the continuing relevance of religion for contemporary inquiries into ethics, public institutions and religious traditions. (shrink)
Kant follows Christian tradition by asserting that humanity is sinful by nature, that our sinful nature burdens us with an infinite debt to God, and that it is possible for us to undergo a moral transformation that iberates us from sin and from its debt. Most of the secondary literature has focused on either Kant’s account of sin or our liberation from it. Far less attention has been paid to the debt in particular. The purpose of this paper is to (...) explore the nature of this debt, why Kant regards it as infinite, and what becomes of it for those who undergo a moral ransformation. (shrink)
This article retrieves Kant's imitatio Christi as a viable alternative to the recent construal of mimesis as a universal human desire, in particular to Ward's reformulation of the imitatio Christi in such terms (in which the human condition is defined by an intrinsic desire for God as other). Kant's writings participate in a very different debate on imitation (one sceptical of its ethical value), and this plays out as a continual ambivalence towards the concept in his work. Kant's imitatio Christi, (...) however, does, I contend, make possible a moral form of imitation by characterising it as a rational and intersubjective debate upon the good. Imitating Christ becomes part of human ethical living in the world. (shrink)
Rival Enlightenments, first published in 2001, is a major reinterpretation of early modern German intellectual history. Ian Hunter approaches philosophical doctrines as ways of fashioning personae for envisaged historical circumstances, here of confessional conflict and political desacralization. He treats the civil philosophy of Pufendorf and Thomasius and the metaphysical philosophy of Leibniz and Kant as rival intellectual cultures or paideiai, thereby challenging all histories premised on Kant's supposed reconciliation and transcendence of the field. This study reveals the extraordinary historical self-consciousness (...) of the civil philosophers, who repudiated university metaphysics as inimical to the intellectual formation of those administering desacralized territorial states. The book argues that the marginalization of civil philosophy in post-Kantian philosophical history may itself be seen as a continuation of the struggle between the rival enlightenments. Combining careful and well-documented scholarship with vivid polemic, Hunter presents penetrating insights for philosophers and historians alike. (shrink)