17th/18th Century Philosophy > 17th/18th Century German Philosophy > Immanuel Kant > Kant: Social, Political, and Religious Thought > Kant: Philosophy of ReligionSee also KantPapers
Edited by Lawrence Pasternack (Oklahoma State University, Boston University)
|Summary||Kant’s Philosophy of Religion has both negative and positive components; and one can see this duality in his famous statement in the B-Preface of the Critique of Pure Reason that he sought out the limits to knowledge [Wissen] in order to make room for faith [Glaube] (Bxxx). It is in light of this anthem that his critique of the traditional proofs for God's existence should be understood. They do not reflect the essence of Kant's Philosophy of Religion, but are rather just small pieces of a far richer position. Echoing Kant’s Lutheran upbringing, he wants to remove religion from the “monopoly of the schools” and set it on a footing suitable to “the common human understanding” (Bxxxii). He achieves this through an appeal to our shared human need for "a special point of reference for the unification of all ends" (6:5). This "point of reference" is the Highest Good, an ideal state of affairs in which there is a distribution of happiness in accordance with moral worth. However, because the Highest Good can neither be realized by us nor within the order of nature, Kant postulates God and Immortality. These are all objects of faith [Glaube] for Kant, and faith, he maintains, is an intersubjectively valid, legitimate mode of assent. That is, Kant quite sternly and repeatedly argues that faith is not the same as "wishful thinking" or rooted in grounds that have "mere private validity". Rather, faith is, despite its practical grounding, a mode of conviction [Überzeugung] that affirms its object as true (and certain). Beyond the Highest Good and its Postulates, Kant's positive Philosophy of Religion expands quite broadly into doctrines related to the nature of sin and salvation, miracles, Providence, Ecclesiology, and Eschatology. While the Highest Good and the Postulates serve as their common foundation, Kant articulates these doctrines in Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, as components of what he there calls the "Pure Rational System of Religion".|
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