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|Title:||Freedom, God and the End of Humanity: Religion and History in Kant's Practical Philosophy|
|Authors:||Irwin, Anderson Chris|
|Abstract:||<p>Kant's concepts of God and history occupy integral yet paradoxical positions in his practical philosophy. He appeals to God as a postulate necessary to practical reason, that which serves as the only unifying ground for freedom and the empirical world. In addition to their more systematic expression, his arguments regarding the practical function of the concept of God often take on a practical psychological dimension. Kant argues that we need to postulate the existence of God in order to be able to pursue the goal of living a moral life in a moral world with a sense of confidence. This same line of argument is found in his essays on history when Kant writes of a providentially guided natural process, and thus serves as an indication of the thematic connection between God and history. And yet it is precisely this conception of God and history that is problematic. The concept of history as a teleologically directed process leans towards a deterministic view of human development, one which conflicts with the conception of human beings as autonomous agents. Some critics have argued that this conflict is only an apparent one, and that other elements of the Kantian system resolve any tension between freedom and determinism within this concept of history. Others have argued that this conflict marks the failure of Kant's concept of history. In this thesis I shall explore this problem. Through establishing the deep connection between God, history and morality in Kant's thought, I intend to show that this is a fundamental Kantian problem, not a marginal one. My emphasis will be on the practical implications of this problem, primarily those having to do with the question of the consistency between Kant's concept of God and history one the one hand and freedom and autonomy on the other. I shall argue that despite attempts to save the concept of history, it ineluctably conflicts with Kant's view of human beings as autonomous, responsible agents. The concept of God, however, is another matter, and I shall endeavor to demonstrate that it in fact can be made consistent with practical reason.</p>|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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