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In Defense of Kant's Religion

Chris L. Firestone and Nathan Jacobs. Foreword by Nicholas Wolterstorff

Publication Year: 2008

Chris L. Firestone and Nathan Jacobs integrate and interpret the work of leading Kant scholars to come to a new and deeper understanding of Kant's difficult book, Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. In this text, Kant's vocabulary and language are especially tortured and convoluted. Readers have often lost sight of the thinker's deep ties to Christianity and questioned the viability of the work as serious philosophy of religion. Firestone and Jacobs provide strong and cogent grounds for taking Kant's religion seriously and defend him against the charges of incoherence. In their reading, Christian essentials are incorporated into the confines of reason, and they argue that Kant establishes a rational religious faith in accord with religious conviction as it is elaborated in his mature philosophy. For readers at all levels, this book articulates a way to ground religion and theology in a fully fledged defense of Religion which is linked to the larger corpus of Kant's philosophical enterprise.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. xi-xii

Kant’s Religion has the deserved reputation of being one of the most profound and suggestive, yet also problematic, texts in the entire Kantian corpus. It is profound in its analysis of our human moral condition. Our condition is not merely that we all do things we ought not to do, so that we are guilty of having done this wrong thing and of having done that wrong...

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pp. xiii-xiv

From its inception seven years ago, this project has received help from a variety of laypeople, scholars, and universities. The order of acknowledgement here is more chronological than hierarchical, but all contributed significantly to the successful completion of this project. We are deeply indebted to everyone mentioned and want to convey our sincere...

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Note on Text Quotations

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pp. xv-xvi

Throughout this volume, we have made every effort to adopt the new Cambridge University Press (CUP) translation of Kant’s works. In the rare case that an alternative translation is utilized, the full publishing information is cited in endnotes. Adjustments to the Cambridge translations or alternative renderings by the authors are based on...

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People vs. Religion

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pp. 1-7

After more than two hundred years of deliberation, the jury is still out on how to best understand Immanuel Kant’s major text on religion, Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason.¹ Some interpreters are resolute in downplaying the significance of Religion to Kant’s philosophical portfolio. By focusing on various aspects of his sociopolitical context and early anti-metaphysical tone, they...

PART 1. Perspectives on Kant’s Religion

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pp. 9

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1. The Metaphysical Motives behind Religion

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pp. 11-45

Our purpose in part 1 is to examine recent scholarship on Immanuel Kant with a view to understanding the basic issues at stake when interpreting Religion and to present the major components of the case against its coherence. In pursuit of these objectives, we will cross-examine a number of the main Kant experts of the last forty years, asking of their work some basic questions...

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2. The Philosophical Character of Religion

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pp. 46-82

The expert testimony surrounding the metaphysical motives behind Immanuel Kant’s Religion leaves us at something of an impasse between Kant’s desire to ground religion in the rational resources of the critical philosophy and the philosophical strictures that militate against it. The first Critique shows signs that Kant’s philosophy promotes both a chastening of traditional theological...

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3. The Indictment of Religion

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pp. 83-100

Having cross-examined expert witnesses on the metaphysical motives behind and the philosophical character of Religion, we turn now to a final testimony on the part of the prosecution. Gordon Michalson’s work on Immanuel Kant provides something of a watershed for current research in this regard, and therefore, Michalson may rightly be identified as the prosecution’s star...

PART 2. The Defense of Kant’s Religion

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pp. 101

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4. Kant’s Philosophy of Religion Reconsidered—Again

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pp. 103-124

In part 1, Perspectives on Kant’s Religion, we surveyed six basic approaches to Kant’s Religion in the literature, taking account of both the metaphysical motives behind Religion and the philosophical character of Religion. Regarding the motives behind Religion, Vincent McCarthy presented the text as caught in a tension between Enlightenment rationalism and Pietistic...

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5. Book One of Religion

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pp. 125-151

With the parameters of interpretation of the previous chapter before us, we now move into Book One of Religion. We approach Book One under the presumption that Kant’s arguments constitute not a translation of Christian concepts or imagery, or a merely symbolic or poetic theology, but the development of Kant’s philosophical anthropology. Our goal in this chapter will be to...

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6. Book Two of Religion

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pp. 152-180

Without question, one of the most striking features of Book Two of Religion is Kant’s use of Christic imagery. Kant’s talk of the ‘‘prototype,’’ who is the ‘‘Word’’ or ‘‘[God’s] only-begotten Son,’’ is rather shocking to those familiar with the Kantian paradigm. In many ways, Kant’s philosophy epitomizes the rationalist emphasis on reason over history. And while Kant consistently asserts, ‘‘no...

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7. Book Three of Religion

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pp. 181-208

As we move into Book Three, we approach the vision portion of the problemsolution- vision shape of Kant’s first experiment in Religion. Prior to analyzing this vision from the vantage point of our reading of Books One and Two, however, we should say a word regarding how interpreters typically approach Book Three. As mentioned above in chapter 3, Gordon Michalson’s research...

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8. Book Four of Religion

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pp. 209-231

To this point, Kant’s arguments throughout Religion have been focused on matters of natural or rational religion. In understanding Kant’s Book One examination of the human species as a transcendental examination of how we must cognize humanity’s moral nature or disposition, we offered an interpretation of Kant’s arguments very different from the ones presented under the...

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Closing Statement

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pp. 232-235

Kant’s Religion has been both a seminal text for determining the contours of Kant’s philosophy of religion and an increasingly maligned text because of its supposed incoherence. Our goal in part 1 was to provide an overview of the metaphysical motivations and philosophical character of Religion by examining various approaches to the text in the literature. In the process, we brought...


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pp. 237-259

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 261-269


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pp. 271-278

E-ISBN-13: 9780253000712
E-ISBN-10: 0253000718
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253352170

Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2008

Series Title: Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion