Sunday, November 27, 2011

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804): Freewill and conscience.


"Freedom, however, is the only one of all the ideas of the speculative reason of which we know the possibility a priori (without, however, understanding it), because it is the condition of the moral law which we know." - The Critique of Practical Wisdom.


With the above and many similar statements, Kant imbibes a great deal of the philosophical framework of western theism and separates himself from Hume as well as the Epicureans and Skeptics.  The belief that the moral law - that is the knowledge of good and evil - is a priori is something that Christians receive in the beginning of the book of Genesis.  Undoubtedly Kant knows this, but doesn't mention it.  I should also note that this is one (of many) key difference between Genesis and the similar Babylonian writings.  


After the above quoted sentence, Kant provides the following to make sure I am thoroughly confused about whether he is a theist, and atheist, or both:


"The ideas of God and immortality, however, are not conditions of the moral law, but only conditions of the necessary object of a will determined by this law; that is to say, conditions of the practical use of our pure reason."


I should probably be careful to decipher this.  My sense is that he is saying that although God can't be shown to exist, the moral law effects our will in a way that causes us to need a notion of God.  Maybe he will clear thinks up more later.

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