Feminist Philosophy of Religion
More specifically, for Kant, how can moral evil be consistent with divine holiness, pain and suffering with divine benevolence, and morally undeserved well-being and the lack of it with divine justice? Thus, theodicy, like matters of religion more generally, turns out to be a matter of faith and not one of knowledge Theology , pp. All of these doctrines of faith can be rationally supported. This leaves open the issue of whether further religious beliefs, drawn from revelation, can be added to this core.
As Kant makes clear in The Conflict of the Faculties , he does not deny that divinely revealed truths are possible, but only that they are knowable. So, we might wonder, of what practical use is revelation if it cannot be an object of knowledge? His answer is that, even if it can never constitute knowledge, it can serve the regulative function of edification—contributing to our moral improvement and adding motivation to our moral purposes Theology , pp.
The first one, regarding human knowledge, had been covered in the first Critique and the Prolegomena ; the second, regarding practical values, was considered in his various writings on ethics and socio-political philosophy; the fourth, regarding human nature, had been covered in his philosophical anthropology. Thus we can conclude that Kant himself sees this book, the publication of which got him into trouble with the Prussian government, as crucial to his philosophical purposes. Hence we should take it seriously here as representative of his own rational theology.
In his Preface to the first edition, he again points out that reflection on moral obligation should lead us to religion Religion , pp. In his Preface to the second edition, he offers an illuminating metaphor of two concentric circles—the inner one representing the core of the one religion of pure moral reason and the outer one representing many revealed historical religions, all of which should include and build on that core Religion , p. In the first book, Kant considers our innate natural predisposition to good in being animals, humans, and persons and our equally innate propensity to evil in our frailty, impurity, and wickedness.
Whether we end up being praiseworthy or blameworthy depends, not on our sensuous nature or our theoretical reason, but on the use we make of our free will, which is naturally oriented towards both good and evil.
At any rate, we are born with a propensity to evil; but whether we become evil depends on our own free acts of will. Thus Kant demythologizes the Christian doctrine of original sin. He then distinguishes between the phony religion of mere worship designed to win favor for ourselves and the authentic moral religion of virtuous behavior. In the second book, Jesus of Nazareth is presented as an archetype symbolizing our ability to resist our propensity to evil and to approach the virtuous ideal of moral perfection.
What Kant does not say is whether or not, in addition to being a moral model whose example we should try to follow, Jesus is also of divine origin in some unique manner attested to by miracles. Just as he neither denies nor affirms the divinity of Christ, so Kant avoids committing himself regarding belief in miracles, which can lead us into superstition Religion , pp.
In the third book, Kant expresses his rational hope for the ultimate supremacy of good over evil and the establishment of an ethical commonwealth of persons under a personal God, who is the divine law-giver and moral ruler—the ideal of the invisible church, as opposed to actual realities of visible churches.
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Whereas statutory religion focuses on obedient external behavior, true religion concerns internal commitment or good will. Mere worship is a worthless substitute for good choices and virtuous conduct. However, some faiths can be relatively more adequate expressions of the religion of moral reason than others Religion , pp. In his particularly inflammatory fourth book, Kant probes the distinction between legitimate religious service and the pseudo-service of religious clericalism.
The ideal of genuine godliness comprises a combination of fear of God and love of God, which should converge to help render us persons of morally good will. So what about such religious practices as prayer, church attendance, and participation in sacraments? Mere external shows of piety must never be substituted for authentic inner virtue Religion , pp. Ethics , pp. Yet it is quite admirable that, in the last few years of his life, despite struggling with the onset of dementia that made any such task increasingly challenging, he kept trying to explore new dimensions of the philosophy of religion.
As has already been admitted, the results, located in his fragmentary Opus Postumum , are more provocative than satisfying; yet they are nevertheless worthy of brief consideration here. The work comprises a vast quantity of scattered remarks, many of which are familiar to readers of his earlier writings, but some of which represent acute, fresh insights, albeit none of them adequately developed. He then adds a bold idea, which breaks with his own previous orthodox theological concept of a transcendent God. This notion of an immanent God that is, one internal to our world rather than transcendently separate from it , while not carefully worked out by Kant himself, would be developed by later German Idealists most significantly, Hegel.
While conceding that we think of God as an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent personal Being, Kant now denies that personality can be legitimately attributed to God—again stepping out of mainstream Judeo-Christian doctrine. Unfortunately, we can only conjecture as to what, exactly, he means by this claim. But what is undeniable is what a long and soaring intellectual journey Kant made as he developed his ideas on God and religion from his pre-critical writings through the central, revolutionary works of his philosophical maturity and into the puzzling but tantalizing thought-experiments of his old age.
Wayne P. Pomerleau Email: Pomerleau calvin. Kant and Religion This article does not present a full biography of Kant. Some Tantalizing Suggestions from the Opus Postumum Yet it is quite admirable that, in the last few years of his life, despite struggling with the onset of dementia that made any such task increasingly challenging, he kept trying to explore new dimensions of the philosophy of religion.
References and Further Readings a. Mary J. New York: Hafner, References to this translation are accompanied by references to the Akademie Ausgabe Volume V. New York: St.
God in Recent French Phenomenology
References are to the A and B German editions. Annette Churton. Allen W. Kerford and D.
Wood and Gertrude M. Robert Hartman and Wolfgang Schwarz. Paul Carus and revised by James W. Theodore M. Greene and Hoyt H. Frederick Copleston, S. Though old, this volume still represents exemplary Kant scholarship.
Feminist Philosophy of Religion (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Scanlon, and Graham Ward. Added to basket. The Horrors and Absurdities of Religion. Arthur Schopenhauer.
Living Buddha, Living Christ. Thich Nhat Hanh. Simone Weil: An Anthology. Simone Weil. The Nature of the Gods. Marcus Tullius Cicero. The End of Faith. Sam Harris. An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding. David Hume.
Related Questioning God (Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion)
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