Kant, Immanuel

Kant, Immanuel
   The founder of critical philosophy and one of the greatest philosophers of modern times, Kant began as a conventional 'pre-critical' philosopher building on the work of Leibniz and his main interpreter Christian Wolff. His monumental Critique of Pure Reason (1781; 2nd edn 1787), however, introduced Kant's critical phase. In this work Kant seeks to reconcile the rationalist and empiricist philosophical traditions by asking how synthetic a priori judgements (in mathematics) are possible. Kant's answer is found in his 'Copernican Revolution', where he argues that knowledge does not involve the mind's adequation to the world, but rather the world's adequation to the mind. Kant thus defends a form of conceptual antirealism in which synthetic a priori knowledge relates to the human categories in the mind rather than the world per se. Kant's revolution effectively undermined all knowledge of the noumena (ding an sich), including traditional metaphysics and theology. Kant then sought in the Critique of Practical Reason (1788) to re-establish belief in ethical synthetic a priori knowledge (with belief in God) through our ethical sense or practical reason. Kant defends a universal moral law, the categorical imperative, that is binding upon all people. God is then reintroduced as a practical postulate to ensure that in the next life all will receive due punishment and rewards. In Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone (1793) Kant turns to address specifically Christian revelation. While he maintains an appreciation for 'radical evil' that is unusual for a late-Enlightenment thinker, the life of Jesus is reduced to being an ethical example, which is not surprising, since Kant's critique of metaphysics forbids our saying that Christ is God. Kant has had a profound and wide-ranging influence on Christian philosophy: some have focused on his arguments against the traditional arguments for the existence of God, others have picked up on Kant's desire to base religion on morality, while others have, under his influence, attempted to see religion in purely symbolic or moral terms, or, at best, to become agnostic about the nature of God.
   See Enlightenment; foundationalism; realism
   Further reading: Caygill 1995; Guyer 1992; Kant 1902-44, 1956, 1959, 1960 and 1992Kenny, Sir Anthony John Patrick
   Once a Roman-Catholic priest, now an agnostic, Kenny has exercised considerable influence on Christian philosophy, particularly in the UK (where he has worked), through pointing out the problems that a Christian philosopher has to address. In particular, he has argued that none of the traditional arguments for the existence of God works as a proof, and that the traditional concept of God is inconsistent in any case. He has written much on the history of philosophy, particularly in connection with Thomas Aquinas, Descartes, Frege and Wittgenstein. He has also contributed to the philosophy of mind and action, the philosophy of religion and ethics. Kenny has also engaged in non-philosophical academic work, including translating some books of the Bible and composing a statistical study of the language of the New Testament.
   Further reading: Kenny 1969b, 1979, 1985, 1992, 1997 and 2004

Christian Philosophy . . 2015.

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