restricted access Conclusion: Believing in the Possibility of Salvation
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138 Conclusion Believing in the Possibility of Salvation At first everything must be attributed to nature, but later nature itself must be attributed to God.1 I have learned from the critique of pure reason that philosophy is not a science of representations, concepts and ideas, or science of all the sciences , or anything else of this sort. It is rather a science of the human being, of his representations, thoughts and actions: it should present all the components of the human being both as he is and as he should be—­ that is, in terms both of his natural functions and of his relations of morality and freedom.2 The foregoing chapters demonstrate the extent to which political-­ theological concerns permeate the fabric of Kant’s work in the critical philosophy and in those works in which he seeks to get to grips with the peculiar problem posed by human beings. The problem is one of human insufficiency: Can human beings , despite the limitations of their own powers of comprehension and less than perfect moral characters, be saved from political and social systems that are the product of prudential calculation of interest derived from what they know of themselves and each other? Any such salvation would be contrary to the empirical evidence offered by the study of human behavior when it is processed primarily through the faculty of understanding and technical practical reason. Kant’s answer to this question is that mankind can be saved, but only by putting the insights derived from the understanding and technical practical onclusion    139 reason in a new context, i.e., sacrificing them in order to make room for faith. This sacrificial recontextualization of the knowledge gained from the understanding and technical practical reason does not result in its erasure, but it is rendered secondary to, and preparatory for, the insights of pure practical reason and rational morality. What a human being can know as a natural entity is merely a developmental phase that prepares the mind for the more fundamental question of how he ought to act. The division between knowledge of human beings and faith in humanity also accounts for Kant’s lower and higher anthropological vantage points: a thoroughly pessimistic anthropology derived from observation of human beings is consistently contrasted against an anthropodicy rooted in the idea of humanity. This division also plays itself out in the termination of Kant’s philosophy of history and political theology, with both human beings and humanity having ends (or eschata) corresponding, respectively, to their natural fate or redeemed destiny. Read in this light, Toward Perpetual Peace is an eschatological text that presents three possible outcomes for mankind: destruction in an apocalyptic war orchestrated by human beings following their natural instincts for power and subjugation; a precarious and uncertain peace predicated on self-­ interest developed from technical practical reason; and finally a genuinely perpetual peace that proceeds from pure practical reason underwritten by belief in providence . Kant therefore combines both Weltgeschichte and Heilsgeschichte in a compelling and powerful manner.3 Kant’s eschatological rendering of both the fate of human beings and the destiny of humanity provides a “position and a yardstick” from which to critically assess mankind’s progress, which is revealed from this perspective to be “necessarily the history of salvation.”4 Kant’s eschatology emerges from his critical engagement with “the eschatology of the eighteenth century as expressed in terms of cosmology and saving history” in The End of All Things, and finds a specifically political expression in Toward Perpetual Peace.5 What makes Kant’s “transcendental eschatology” distinctive is that “it no longer depends on the support [Krücken] of scripture, which has long become suspect; nor is it confident of possessing the truth, as generated by the rational arguments of the Enlightenment.”6 Kant’s philosophy of history, and by extension his theory of international politics, are products of his postscriptural , critical theology rooted in a new form of faith indebted to but distinct from religious and theological endeavors of the past.7 Despite the rupture occasioned by Kant’s transformation of religion into a form compatible with reason and the critical philosophy, there remains in Kant “at least the echoes of 140    kant’s international relations a characteristically religious eschatology.”8 The transformation may have left Christian orthodoxy behind, but Kant retains “a pilgrim sense of life in which our present endeavours are sustained by the hope of a glorious consummation yet to come.”9 The first section...


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