Types of religious certainty implied by Kant's treatment of the problem of God
Barrett, Earl Edward
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In the light of the thought of Immanuel Kant is there any justifiable certainty (particularly of God's existence)? This problem involves the subordinate problem: can logical certainty and psychological certainty (certitude) be correlated, i.e. is an empirical theology possible? Kant's treatment of the problem of God suggests three types of religious certainty or certainty-claims--theoretical, moral and experiential. In his Kritik der reinen Vernunft, Kant exposed the weaknesses of the traditional theistic arguments as claims to logical or theoretical certainty. Partly as a consequence, there is today a general dissatisfaction with the traditional theistic "proofs." As merely theoretical, they are abstract, the results of belief rather than producers of it, having some value but producing no high degree of logical certainty. In his Kritik der praktischen Vernunft and Kritik der Urtheilskraft, Kant elaborated upon the idea advanced in the first Critique that what can not be demonstrated by the speculative reason can be held as a reasonable belief by the practical reason. He viewed God as the Summum Bonum, Supreme Intelligence, who must exist if the happiness of the good is to be guaranteed, as such a guarantee necessitates harmony between the moral and physical orders, a harmony only possible in their union under one Ruler. In aesthetic experience, also, Kant saw an implication of God's existence, for he put the intuitive judgments of the holy and of a teleological universe upon the same plane as the immediate apprehensions of the beautiful and the sublime, all judgments of the practical reason. The chief conolusions reached are as follows: 1) There seems to be no reason for the denial of certainty of any kind and of any degree. 2) On purely theoretioal grounds, there is no high degree of certainty in religious matters. 3) Certitude of the existence of God is both desirable and reasonable. 4) Practical certainty (certitude) of His existence is possible on the basis of the "moral" argument. 5) There is a higher degree of certitude in the experiential approach to God. 6) The synoptic view, comprising theoretical, moral, experiential and pragmatical aspects of religious Reality, is a coherent view. 7) The certainty resulting from the correlation of certainty and certitude in this view, while not absolute, is adequate for the individual and for a rational-empirical theology. [TRUNCATED]
Thesis (Ph.D)--Boston University
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