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Shadows of Divine Things

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Location: Texas, United States

This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Just a note about my posts on Kant’s “Kingdom of God.”

There have been many theologians and philosophers (many who were Christian) whom I have read in the past who espoused that Kant was perhaps an atheist. This was due in large part to Kant’s work The Critique of Pure Reason; especially in this work where Kant attempts to demonstrate why the current arguments for God’s existence (those which were prevalent during his day) were at best untenable.

This reading of Kant, the reading if his Critique of Pure Reason, in the absence of his other works, leads these thinkers to what I have heard called a neo-Kantian view of Kant. This view, I believe, is an erroneous view of Kant’s thinking. Kant actually bridges the gap between the noumena and the phenomena through the practical and the moral (Kant has actually formulated an alternative to the traditional arguments for God’s existence in his work The One Possible Basis for a Demonstration for the Existence of God). A more thorough reading of Kant’s works fleshes this out. This being the case, to think Kant was an atheist, or even agnostic is, at best, a faulty view.

While I do not agree entirely with Kant’s assessment of his “Kingdom of God,” I think, at least, that it communicates that Kant was attempting to incorporate his Christian Protestant Pietistic roots into his moral and religious philosophy. Moreover, the posts below certainly demonstrate that Kant held to a certain semi-Pelagian view of human nature, and here I part ways with his thinking since I am decidedly a Calvinist. However, I posted these parts here to at least demonstrate an aspect of Kant that way too many readers of Kant overlook. I hope you enjoy them.


Blogger Jonathan Moorhead said...

T.B. - this is my first time here. I love your blog name and philosophical emphasis. I will be returning!

8:55 AM, December 03, 2005  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

Hey Jonathan,

Welcome, glad you have visited. I actually visit your site fairly regularly as I am out on web visiting various blogs. So, welcome.

9:30 AM, December 03, 2005  
Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

I'm pretty sure his moral argument for God appears in some of his ethical writings. I don't remember where offhand, but he thinks the only meta-ethical view that makes any sense presupposes God.

7:32 PM, December 10, 2005  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...


It has been awhile since I have visited Kant's moral writings, however, I believe it is through Kant's categorical imperative through practical reason where he is arguing or presupposing God.

This can be found in two of his works Foundations of the Metaphysics of Morals and The One Possible Basis for a Demonstration for the Existence of God

10:59 PM, December 10, 2005  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

The below comments were posted in the comments section of the Bunyan quote. I wanted to move them to this section so everyone could see them where they actually belong."

Patrick said...
What you say about Kant is largely true, I think. God and immortality are conditions for the proper expression of pure practical reason. He says, too, that this is Glaube rather than knowledge, but he also says that this Glaube (belief) occasions a more powerful assent than mere knowledge. However, I would say, putting aside Kant's biography, that his philosophy does not allow for a Christian God but a philosopher's God. Kant feels free to "think" God in that the thought of God involves no logical contradiction. Where one goes from here is an extremely interesting question. I do not see it leading Kant anywhere near The New Testament. That he was an atheist, however, as you point out, strikes me as dead wrong. He attached far more importance to the practical side of his thinking than the theoretical. He saw the dogmatic philosophers of his day, as he called them (Leiniz-Wolff) as promoting atheism by constructing proofs of the existence of God that 1) did not affect the belief of the masses one bit, 2) were so subject to criticism and debate that they called faith itself into doubt. And it was this very precisely that he wanted to avoid by writing the first true philosophical science.

4:57 AM, December 15, 2005

T.B. Vick said...
Patrick states:

"God and immortality are conditions for the proper expression of pure practical reason."

This is a good way of putting it Patrick and this is the latter part of Kant's thinking in his moral philosophy.

I never said Kant was an atheist. In fact I emphatically deny that claim (re-read my "note about my posts on Kant’s “Kingdom of God.”"

I think you raise and intersting point when you say that perhaps Kant's God was one of philosophy and not a Christian Theistic God.

That may in fact be how it is cashed out in Kant's overall presentation, however, I honestly think Kant believed that what he was asserting could perhaps point one to some notion of the Christian God; but I am uncertain of this and am speculating - much to Kant's insistence that I not do that ; )

You are correct by declaring that Kant placed more emphasis on the practical aspect of his philosophy than the theoretical, most contemporary scholars of Kant do not see that though, and this is one reason why they get lost or confussed in Kant (especially with a mere one-sided reading as I pointed out in my posts).

Thanks for your thoughts. Sounds like you have really read Kant.

*However, next time post your comments in the Kant section and not in a quote from Bunyan ; )

10:18 AM, December 15, 2005

10:23 AM, December 15, 2005  
Blogger Patrick said...

Sorry about my Bunyan bungle, but now it only seems to make sense to post here. (So, I hope there is not being created a jungle of Bunyan bungles.) Yes, I did not read you are saying that Kant was an atheist at all. (I was making things confusing by supporting your denial of the claim that Kant was an atheist.) Kant greatly admired Christ, but he was skeptical about ceremony and doctrine. In this, he was responding to the Pietist-rationalist debate of the 18th century. It is amazing out contemporary scholars are careless in their readings of Kant. I picked up the "Cambridge Companion to Kant" the other day, and it contained essays but noted scholars who made factual claims about Kantianism that were just, as far as I could tell, wrong--the product of (a almost seemingly willful) misreading. Sorry if I have bungled Bunyan again! :) Patrick

4:31 AM, December 16, 2005  
Blogger T.B. Vick said...

LOL. That's funny Patrick, no 'Bunyan bungles' occurred so I think we're safe.

You are Kantian after my own heart ; ) it is rare to find someone who is well rounded when reading or studying Kant.

I actually studied under one of the best Kantian scholars in the U.S. at Marquette University - Father John Treloar, S.J. (who has written a ton of stuff on Kant and spent 30 plus years devoted to Kantian studies). Albeit he is no longer at Marquette (which was a terrible loss for them).

Treloar also demonstrated to us how many 'top-notch' scholars have made a mess of Kant, so it is all to prevalent.

In the future I intent to post some more articles about Kant and his theological philosophy.

10:29 AM, December 16, 2005  
Blogger Patrick said...

With reference to your lead observations, I agree with you. I can't imagine Kant as a Calvinist. His account of freedom is such that it seems very unlikely. He certainly felt himself free to believe in God, but I am doubtful of the significance he attached to the proof you mention. He remained manifestly clear his life through, to the onset of senility, that God was not a possible object of theoretical knowledge. And this, as you probably know, was because of the grounding of his epistemology in the epiricism of Locke and Hume (e.g. all knowledge begins with sensory experience and can only apply to the sensory manifold or possible experience) and his critique of rationalist metaphysics (e.g. rationality provides the form of all experience and becomes dialectical and delusional when it ventures outside of experience). In the third Critique Kant has it that for heuristic reasons the mind must assume an intelligent, guiding purpose in the universe. In other words, science seeks to explain nature in complete systems of laws. This means that the scientist not only does (consciously or unconsciously) but must (by virtue of the very structure of reason) assume that nature is an intelligible unity. If this assumption were not made, scientific inquiry could not proceed. It simply must be assumed that nature "matches" or corresponds properly to intelligence. If it did not, human beings could not arrive at and grasp the lawfulness of things. This is an interesting move on Kant's part. Because it would seem that Kant would assign God to what he calls the "intelligible" sphere of things-in-themselves. Also, in that in the first Critique Kant grounds his arguments in the distinction between finite human reason (which does not mean fallible--he wants a science of philosophy, strict certainty) and divine reason, he suggests a continuity. That is, the object as that which comes into being with the thinking of God (as always already within God)is contrasted with finite human reason which confronts a sense-datum, an X (object), that it has not created. This distinction is of profound importance for both editions of the first Critique. Our epistemic finitude is not due simply to our proneness to error but to the fact that that which appears over against us as an object is other. (And here we can already anticipate the formative role of appreception or the "I think" in the synthesis of the manifold of intuition.) In other words, a conception of God, in terms of what his epistemic nature must be, guides the first Critique in its articulation of the finitude of man. However, if God belongs to the intelligible as that which is always already self-knowing with apodictic certainty, it no longer sounds like Kant is staying true to his claim that things-in-themselves cannot be knowable. Now it could be that Kant would respond, "I am only postulating these things about God. They are things I can think without contradiction. They are not instances of knowledge." In that case, it is strange that he is doing this when he does in the first Critique. Regardless, I don't think these are especially important issues in the vast scheme of the Kantian project. I said last time that Kant struck me as in the tradition of those who posit a philosopher's God (as opposed to the philosophers Aquinas or Kierkegaard). And this is because he strongly suggests that the reason that creates knowledge in human beings is of the same nature as the intelligence that God is/exercises in the realm of the intelligible. Thus jibes too with all of the second Critique. We are free in that reason itself proposes moral laws to itself (in the subject)which primary law (the categorical imperative) is very like the Golden Rule, says Kant. In our freedom, we belong to the intelligible. (If we did not, we would be subject to the ironclad determinism of Newtonian science.) And what is the seat of pure practical reason--the will. The will is not the empirical will (for the same reason, determinism) but the intelligible. Thus, we belong to reason (for "practical" reason is the same reason as that which theorizes; it is the same reason applied to moral choice and philosophizing correctly) and thus essentially to the intelligible. And here Kant sets forth the "holy will," the divine will, which knows no obstruction barring the execution of the rational law (the categorical imperative). Thus, it seems to me, this is the philosopher's God, reason in the absolute purity of reason. God is also will in the absolute purity of reason (which is strict self-obedience of the laws of reason--as the categorical imperative--to itself). Thus, God is omniscient, morally perfect, and omnipresent. In terms of the latter, God includes all of the intelligible, all that resides in-itself. Thus, one cannot ascribe existence as a predicate. Ping-bing-bop: the philosopher's God of pure reason. How far away can Hegel be, really? (Come to think of it, how far behind can Aristotle be--teleological, God as thought thinking thought, etc?) Just checking in to stimulate your God noodle. An unstimulated noodle is a drag. Patrick trai1379@comcast.net

2:05 AM, December 17, 2005  
Blogger Patrick said...

Gosh, I feel like I should apologize for this post. It was such a ponderous blast that it left everybody speechless. So, I will only add one thing (for the closet Kantian out there with a yen). Kant said that the mind works in unities. In other words, sythesizing is unifying, the bundling of impressions into things, unities. The I is a non-empirical unity of sorts (stretching out its mineness to this aspect of consciousness and that) and the object is a unity of impressions. However, unity is not itself inductive; it is not an idea that is acquired empirically. (After all, I can see unities however I choose: the eyes or the entire face, the tree or the forest, etc.) He suggests--hints--that this could well be a God-aspect to rationality. Patrick

12:19 AM, January 15, 2006  

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