by Stephen Palmquist (email@example.com)
1. Kant: Destroyer or Preserver of Metaphysics?
Does Kant's Critical philosophy destroy the possibility of theology? Is his System of Perspectives meant to undermine the legitimacy of theological reflection, or to limit our knowledge of God to a merely negative path by abolishing its metaphysical foundation? Is there any alternative to the view that regards Kant as aiming to undermine organized religion by reducing religious beliefs and actions to nothing but morality in disguise? Does Kant substitute for metaphysics a positivistic theory of scientific knowledge that denies ordinary religious believers any hope of experiencing the transcendent? An interpreter's answers to such questions will inevitably depend to a large extent on prior assumptions relating to what one regards as Kant's main purpose in constructing his entire philosophical System. For this reason, a trustworthy interpretation of what I shall call Kant's 'Critical religion' must be built on the foundation of a prior understanding of his 'Critical philosophy' [see KSP1].
Unfortunately, such questions have been answered all too often in ways that go directly against Kant's own expressed intentions. Many theologians, especially since Ritschl and the 'back to Kant' movement, have tended to give affirmative answers, interpreting Kant 'as an antimetaphysical moralist'. On the basis of the 'fact-value' distinction that Kant's philosophy appears to support, such neo-Kantians believed that if theology (like any other form of speculation) is to survive, it must cut all ties with metaphysics and perhaps even, following Barth's lead, with philosophy as a whole. Whatever view of the relation between theology and philosophy a person holds, anyone who interprets Kant in this way is sure to agree with Cupitt that 'we [theologians] who live after Kant must walk the negative way.' Collins adopts this position in Co60a:183 when he portrays Kant as 'destroying every philosophy of God' and as arguing: 'Natural theology has no possibility of providing us with true knowledge about God and should be abandoned.' And Green echoes the sentiments of many Christian readers of Kant when he mockingly exclaims: 'Professor Kant, the destroyer of supernaturalist orthodoxy, has revealed himself to be the apologist for a new, true Christianity!'
Philosophers too have often agreed in assessing the Critique of Pure Reason [Kt1], at least, as 'the most thorough and devastating of all anti-metaphysical writings' [Wa63b:38], thus making Kant 'the most tremendous disintegrating force of modern times' [Ba03:xvi; s.a. xvii]. Shortly after the publication of the first Critique, Mendelssohn labeled Kant the 'all destroyer', and since then many have followed him in regarding Kant as 'the arch-destroyer in the realm of thought', putting forward 'destructive, world-annihilating thoughts' [He59:109]. Gilson extends this judgment to the whole of Kant's philosophy, maintaining that 'Kant ... had no metaphysical interests of his own' [Gi37:310]. Since 'a new philosophical cycle was to begin'  with Kant's thoroughgoing 'rejection of metaphysics' , Gilson regards any of Kant's theories or statements that border on the metaphysical as superfluous nonessentials that he merely borrowed from 'hearsay'.Findlay sums up this tendency rather concisely: 'It is usual nowadays to think of Kant as some sort of incipient positivist, always verging towards a belief in the total non-significance of ideas lacking all empirical illustration' [Fi76:3].
Not all philosophers and theologians, however, interpret Kant's intentions so negatively. Findlay himself goes on to say that, even though 'Kant's theory of knowledge ... has aspects that can with justice be called "positivist", it is not at all positivist in its account of the necessary underpinnings of such knowledge' [Fi81:5]; 'Kant's theory of knowledge cannot, therefore, be called positivist, though it is quite right to see something like positivism in his account of what we can effectively know' . Barth agrees that it is wrong to view Kant as 'a kind of super-sceptic', or as the 'all-annihilating one'; for his Criticism is always intended as 'an affirmation of reason.... Kant both has and demands an almost unconditional faith in reason' [Ba72:270-1; cf. Wo78:16]. Indeed, 'it would have surprised Kant', says Paulsen, 'to hear that he had destroyed metaphysics. Certainly nothing was further from his intention than that.' England adds that Kant denies 'only the validity of a certain type of metaphysics' [En29: 207], for 'what is really implied in the critical position is ... the substitution of an immanent metaphysics for the older transcendent metaphysics' [113-4; s.a. 208-9]. And Wood goes so far as to suggest that 'Kant himself was in many ways ... an "existentialist" theologian'!
Numerous of Kant's own comments can be construed as defending a positivism of some sort. For example, he urges us 'to believe that we have approximated to completeness in the empirical employment of [a] principle only in proportion as we are in a position to verify such unity in empirical fashion' [Kt1:720, e.a.]. If this is positivism, however, it is far from straightforward; for he continues with the caveat: 'a completeness which is never, of course, attainable.' Moreover, when Kant turns away from such empirical considerations, his position becomes explicitly nonpositivistic. For example, he argues against skepticism in the same way one could argue against the use of the (unverifiable) principle of verification as the basis of positivism. To assert 'that there is and can be no a priori knowledge at all', chides Kant, 'would be like proving by reason that there is no such thing as reason' [Kt4:12]. The frequency of such comments in Kant's writings casts a shadow of incredulity upon any skeptical or anti-metaphysical interpretation. But in order to pass from this negative conclusion, that Kant was not attempting to destroy metaphysics, to its positive counterpart, that he was actually attempting to preserve a form of metaphysics, we must take a brief look at the way Kant himself portrayed the role of metaphysics in his major philosophical writings.
2. Metaphysics in Kant's Philosophical Writings
A popular myth concerning Kant's development, which helps breed the above-mentioned misconceptions about his true attitude towards metaphysics and theology, is that he started out as a typical Wolffian rationalist, and only began formulating his 'Critical' principles after being jarred by Hume out of his rationalist complacency. Yet a careful and open-minded reading of Kant's early (so-called 'pre-Critical') works yields quite a different impression: 'From the beginning he made no attempt to hide his dislike of the compact mass of Wolffian doctrine' [Vl62:3]; instead, his lifelong goal was to discover and follow 'the correct philosophical method and by means of it to construct an eternal metaphysics' [2; s.a. Go71:63]. One of the many examples of a text that supports such a view comes in Kt15:71(229), where Kant announces (in 1763) that he has 'sought in vain from others' for an adequate philosophical method to replace 'the imitation (or rather the aping) of the mathematician', which 'has on the slippery ground of metaphysic occasioned a multitude of ... false steps'. Moreover, as we shall see in II.2, by 1766 (fifteen years before the publication of Kt1) Kant shows an awareness (in Kt18) of the crucial difference between 'speculative' and 'Critical' metaphysics, and announces his intention to concentrate his attention on the latter. His philosophical 'panacea', then, 'was not discovered by a sudden stroke of intuitive genius but [was] allowed slowly and painfully to reach ripe elaboration' [Vl62:3; s.a. Ma55 and Wa72].
Kant expresses his true attitude towards metaphysics quite clearly in a number of explicit statements throughout his writings, a typical example being the quote given at the beginning of this chapter. In an equally explicit passage written in 1766, he confesses [Kt18:367-8(112-13); cf. Kt1:878]:
Metaphysics, with which it is my fate to be in love, although only rarely can I boast of any favours from her, offers two advantages. The first is that it serves to solve the tasks which the questioning mind sets itself when by means of reason it inquires into the hidden qualities of things. But here the result only too often falls below expectation ...
The other advantage is more adapted to human reason, and consists in recognizing whether the task be within the limits of our knowledge and in stating its relation to the conceptions derived from experience, for these must always be the foundation of all our judgments. In so far metaphysics is the science of the boundaries of human reason. And ... this use of metaphysics ... is at the same time the least known and the most important, and ... is obtained only late and by long experience.
In a letter written at about the same time, Kant reveals a similar position:
I am far from regarding metaphysics itself, objectively considered, to be trivial or dispensable; in fact I have been convinced for some time now that I understand its nature and its proper place in human knowledge and that the true and lasting welfare of the human race depends on it ... [AA10:67(Zw67:55)].
The significance of this early stage in Kant's development, and the nature and extent of Hume's influence, will be discussed further in II.1-4. For now it will suffice to say that Kant saw Kt1 not as a denial of his love of metaphysics, but as its truest and most secure foundation. For in a letter written just after its publication in 1781, he claims Kt1 'includes the metaphysics of metaphysics.'
These are just a few of the many passages where Kant quite clearly views his contribution to metaphysics in terms of neither positivistic empiricism nor strict 'rationalism'; instead, he sees himself as offering-to borrow one of his own favorite expressions-'a third thing'. A label often used to denote his synthesis between empiricism and rationalism is the easily misunderstood title, 'transcendental idealism'. But since this phrase properly refers to just one of his many philosophical doctrines [see KSP1:173n], I have suggested an alternative title in §II.3 of KSP1. Interpreting Kant's philosophy as a 'System of Perspectives' enables us to account for the potentially confusing recurrence of both rationalist and empiricist (as well as both metaphysical and anti-metaphysical) elements in his writings. This in turn enables us to see how Kant's System 'restores metaphysics' [Ak91:70]; as Akhutin observes, 'it turns metaphysics into philosophy.' And Kant himself [Kt69:281] says the third (highest) stage of progress in metaphysics (i.e., the practical, as it passes beyond the dogmatic and the skeptical) corresponds to Critical theology surpassing ontology and cosmology. Exploring Kant's metaphysical idea of God in this volume will thus give us ample reason to affirm Akhutin's appraisal [Ak91:70]: 'It was not metaphysics that Kant is striving to eliminate, but the metaphysical idol of reason.'
3. The Theocentric Orientation of Kant's Philosophy
If Kant is neither a straightforward positivist nor a traditional rationalist, the question yet remains how he intends his philosophy to relate to theology. As far as methodology and terminology are concerned, Barth is largely correct to say Kant is 'purely a philosopher and his philosophy is not in the least dressed in the garb of theology.' Indeed, as Sykes points out, 'the whole object of [Part I of Kt65] is to demonstrate the necessity of an institutionalized rivalry between theology and philosophy' [Sy82:100]. But 'theology' in such contexts refers for Kant only to what is more accurately called 'biblical studies' or 'revealed theology' [see Kt8:8-11(7-10)]-disciplines Kant himself never practiced. Yet if the meaning of 'theology' is widened to include any serious, scholarly study of God, religion, and related subjects, his philosophy can be seen in many respects to be 'theocentric' in orientation. 'Theocentric' here does not mean Kant requires human knowledge of God to serve as the basis of or center for all other types of knowledge. On the contrary, it means the problems surrounding our understanding of the nature and reality of God serve as the central driving force of his philosophy.
Prior to Kant most philosophers used theology-especially the implications of God's existence (which many believed they could prove)-to bridge gaps they could not bridge by purely philosophical means. Two obvious examples are Descartes' assumption that God's existence guarantees that, 'regarding objects which are clearly and distinctly represented ..., I can never be deceived' [De70:4.119], and Berkeley's theory that objects not currently being perceived by any human subject can be said to persist only insofar as they are being perceived by God. Kant, however, flatly rejects such approaches:
To have recourse to God ... in explaining the arrangements of nature and their changes is ... a complete confession that one has come to the end of his philosophy, since he is compelled to assume something of which in itself he otherwise has no concept in order to conceive of the possibility of something he sees before his very eyes. [Kt4:138]
This removal of the concept of God from its traditional place in the 'gaps' of philosophical inquiry is commonly interpreted as an example of Kant's positivistic and anti-theological disposition. What tends to be ignored by such interpreters is that Kant replaces this traditional assumption with that of his famous, or infamous, concepts of the 'thing in itself' [see KSP1:VI.2] and 'noumenon' [see note I.3, above]. He has a number of reasons for doing so [see KSP1: V.1-4], among them being the preservation of the integrity of philosophy and the protection of theology from its skeptical and agnostic critics. For he regards the thing in itself as the unknowable question mark of philosophical inquiry [see KSP1:AV]; God is freed to play a far more important and determinant role [s.e. Chs. V-VI, below]. In one sense, as we shall see, God transcends even the thing in itself, and so, for Kant, is radically unknowable. But in another, equally important sense, God is immanent; indeed, this rich concept of 'a living God' [Kt1:661] forms the very heart of Kant's entire philosophical project. In other words, a real (though mysterious) God-not just an 'idea' of reason-is the central focus towards which every strand in Kant's System points. The interplay between these two aspects of his concept of God constitutes a valuable contribution to philosophical theology, for which he has rarely, if ever, been given full credit.
Although it is true that Kant always writes primarily as a philosopher, it is also true that 'the Critical philosophy left his basic beliefs untouched' [Wa72: 143; s.a. Pa02:263] and that the three 'ideas' guiding his entire philosophical endeavor-viz., 'God, freedom, and immortality' [e.g., Kt1:xxx; Kt4:3-4; Kt7:473]-are all primarily theocentric in their orientation. Thus it should come as no surprise that the concept of God 'was constantly recurring throughout the various stages of [Kant's] intellectual development' [He57:13; s.a. En29:208-9]. The inordinate attention interpreters usually give to the arguments in Kt1's Transcendental Analytic ironically veils the fact that Kant intends the book 'to clear the way for a positive account of what he regards as the correct theology for human beings' [Ax89:310]. Even Heine, who views Kt1 as 'the sword that slew deism in Germany' [He59:107], agrees that Kant's criticism of the traditional proofs for the existence of God 'forms one of the main points of [Kt1]' and that we ought to 'recognise everywhere visible in [Kt1] his polemic against these proofs' [He59:115-6]. Unfortunately, he believes Kant was trying to prove that 'this ideal ... being, hitherto called God, is a mere fiction' -a view I shall reject in Part Two, and throughout this volume.
Wood is one of the few interpreters prior to 1989 (Pa89 being an early synopsis of the approach taken here) to acknowledge and develop the constructive, theocentric tenor of Kant's philosophy [see notes I.7,13]. He says:
Kant is fundamentally unable to conceive of the human situation except theistically ... For Kant's real aim is not to destroy theology, but to replace a dogmatic theology with a Critical one: to transform rational theology from a complacent speculative science into a critical examination of the inevitable but perpetually insoluble problems of human reason, and a vehicle for the expression of our moral aspirations under the guidance of an autonomous reason. [Wo78:17]
He claims, quite rightly, that 'there is widespread misunderstanding of Kant's ideas' concerning his Criticism of the proofs for God's existence [10; see below, Ch.IV and AV.1-3]. Moreover, Kant's Lectures on Philosophical Theology [Kt26] show, according to Wood, 'that [even] the traditional theology was to a large extent compatible with Kant's critical philosophy' [Wo78:149]. Indeed, Kant's concern for and influence on theology was extensive: not only does Barth credit him with having 'understood what the idea of a Church was' and as having also 'understood what grace was' [Ba72:339], but Sykes regards him 'as one of those who prepared the way for the fragile advances of the Second Vatican Council' [Sy82:103]-three theological accomplishments of no small merit!
Kant himself openly and repeatedly affirms the theocentric orientation in his understanding of metaphysics. In 1763 he upholds 'THERE IS A GOD' as 'the most important of all our cognitions'-so important that it is in no danger of being refuted by metaphysical speculation [Kt15:65(219)]. In a 1770 letter to his friend Lambert, Kant explains that the purpose for fixing the principles and limits of knowledge is 'so that these principles could not be confusedly applied to objects of pure reason' [AA10:94(Zw67:59)]. That these 'objects' are the ideas of God, freedom, and immortality is repeatedly stressed by Kant: 'Metaphysics has as the proper object of its enquiries three ideas only: God, freedom, and immortality' [Kt1:395n]; 'metaphysics has engaged so many heads up till now and will continue to engage them not in order to extend natural knowledge ..., but in order to attain to a knowledge of what lies entirely beyond all the boundaries of experience, namely, God, freedom, and immortality' [Kt3:477]. And he emphasizes the theocentric orientation of all metaphysics even more explicitly as late as Kt69:292: 'The supersensible in the world (the spiritual nature of the soul) and out of the world (God), hence immortality and theology, are the ultimate ends towards which metaphysics is directed.'
Kant also makes it clear in numerous places that his own task is ultimately constructive with respect to theology and religion, just as it is for metaphysics in general. His famous claim 'to deny knowledge, in order to make room for faith' [Kt1:xxx] certainly implies something of this sort, especially when it is seen in context [see KSP1:V.1]. For a large portion of the second edition Preface to Kt1 is devoted to clarifying that 'all objections to morality and religion' have been 'for ever silenced' by this Critique of reason's powers.Elsewhere in Kt1 he explains that theology, morals, and religion, which correspond to these three ideas, respectively, are 'the highest ends of our existence' [395n; s.a. 494,656]. And in the last few pages of the Critique he concludes that, 'although metaphysics cannot be the foundation of religion, it must always continue to be a bulwark of it', and that a Critical metaphysics 'prevents the devastations of [speculation] ... in the field of morals as well as in that of religion' . His Critique of Practical Reason [Kt4] continues the task of insuring against 'the possibility of making theology merely a magic lantern of phantoms' . His seminal doctrine of the primacy of practical reason represents the culmination of this line of thinking: an anthropocentric System would give primacy to theoretical reason, treating human knowledge as its central feature; Kant denies such knowledge only in the sense of rejecting its centrality, because his System puts the theocentric faith of practical reason in its place.
Even at the end of his life, Kant was intent on emphasizing the theocentric orientation of his philosophy: 'The highest level of the transcendental philosophy ... lies in this twofold task: 1.What is God? 2.Is there a God?' [Kt9:22.63(Su71:119)]. Moreover, if Kant's own testimony is not evidence enough, 'his friend and biographer, Jachmann' informs us, as Greene notes, 'that, in private conversations with his friends "the philosopher and the man spoke out in undeniable testimony to an inner feeling and a genuine conviction [of God's existence]"; and that "in the true sense of the word he was a worshipper of God."'
This interpretation goes directly against the view that has prevailed among most English-speaking readers of Kant, that Kant's System is anthropocentric. This myth's long life has been largely the result of Greene's seminal defense of such a position in his introductory essay to the standard translation of Kt8. In stressing Kant's supposed 'absolute insistence upon the reduction of true religion to morality'-an interpretation we shall have reason to reject in Chapter VI and throughout Part Three-Greene characterizes Kant's 'whole religious theory ... [as] anthropocentric, not theocentric' [Gr34:lxxvi]. But what Greene takes as evidence of an anti-theocentric approach to religion is best conceived as being a Critical response to both the anthropocentric and the theocentric approaches taken by most previous philosophers. Allison rightly points out that Kant's rejection of 'transcendental realism' in Kt1 amounts to a rejection of a 'theocentric model of knowledge' [Al85:27; s.a. Al76]. Kant's epistemology, in other words, is admittedly anthropocentric: what we can know is limited to the phenomenal realm of human experience. In this sense alone is Gulyga right to say [Gu87:61] 'man is at the centre of Kant's philosophical interests.' Yet Kant's epistemology is only meant to prepare the way for a proper (hypothetical/practical) approach to theological issues. In each Critique the traditional way of being theocentric or anthropocentric is rejected in favor of a limited anthropocentricity that leaves room for a proper theocentricity. In this sense, we could qualify the foregoing arguments by saying the overall orientation of Kant's System is Critically theocentric-i.e., it balances the purely anthropocentric and theocentric approaches to philosophy with an approach that does justice to both.
4. The Scope of This Volume
We can now offer a tentative answer to the question posed at the outset of this chapter: Kant destroys not so much the possibility of theology as that of the one-sided rationalist spirit of the Enlightenment, in the midst of which he himself was nurtured. His genius is to have done this without going to the opposite extreme of embracing positivism. In the process of working out his 'Critical' approach, he proposes numerous theories that are highly relevant to theologians and philosophers of religion. Unfortunately, many of these are imbedded so deeply within the intricacies of his philosophy that they are easily neglected or misunderstood. On the basis of the systematic analysis of the architectonic form and content of Kant's Critical philosophy completed in the first volume of this series, we are now prepared to investigate in detail the most important of his System's religious and theological implications. To help readers recognize the systematic connection between the remaining chapters, I shall conclude this first chapter with a summary of this volume.
Part One sets the stage for the entire study in three distinct ways. Here in the first chapter we have demonstrated that, despite common assumptions to the contrary, Kant's mature philosophy (or 'System of Perspectives') has a radically theocentric orientation, promoted by the three metaphysical ideas. Chapter II takes a close look at Kant's early (and often neglected) book, Dreams of a Spirit-Seer, Illustrated by Dreams of Metaphysics [Kt18], arguing that it foreshadows with amazing accuracy some of the most basic tenets of the Critical philosophy. Its treatment of mystical visions ('dreams') directly parallels the treatment of metaphysical speculation in Kt1. A detailed overview of this text will not only reveal some rather surprising influences on Kant's thinking, but will also provide an indispensable context for interpreting the religious and theological orientation of his mature System in terms of his long-held interest in constructing a legitimate philosophical foundation for mystical experience. The third chapter then takes a step back and reviews the fundamental elements and metaphysical implications of Critical philosophy, as set forth in KSP1. (Those who have recently read KSP1 may therefore wish to skip Chapter III.)
Part Two examines three key aspects of Kant's Critical theology: his reasons for believing in God's existence; symbolic ways to understand God's nature; and the relationship between theology and morality. Chapter IV explains the problem of transcendental theology (namely, that there is no way to prove God actually exists) and how Kant attempts to solve it. The first Critique introduces the regulative employment of the idea of God to demonstrate how this notion can be useful even though its objective validity cannot be absolutely confirmed. The third Critique presents physicotheology as providing empirical evidence for the God-hypothesis-evidence that is compelling, provided we do not pretend it constitutes an irrefutable theoretical proof. And the second Critique gives the ultimate rationale for belief in God: preserving the role of morality for properly-functioning human relationships necessitates a God-postulate. The next chapter begins with a description of God's transcendence, in light of the Kantian opposition between human reason and divine understanding (or 'intellectual intuition'). An account of the symbolic nature of all descriptions of God is followed by a series of suggestions as to how Kant thinks we should form theological and moral models of God's nature, once we are committed to believing in God's existence. Chapter VI raises the question as to whether Kant's well known emphasis on the centrality of morality for all genuine religion constitutes a total reduction of religion to morality. This common view is shown to be incorrect: Kant's own statements clearly indicate that he regards genuine empirical religion as a synthesis between morality and theology; morality on its own does not suffice and must therefore be raised to the level of religion by integrating it with a Critical theology.
Part Three examines Kant's system of religion, as laid out in his Religion within the Bounds of Bare Reason [Kt8] from three points of view. Chapter VII summarizes Kant's rational system of religious perspectives (systemr) in terms of a twelve-step argument that follows the same architectonic form as the first two Critiques [see Part Three of KSP1]. Each of the four 'Books' establishes one of the four 'stages' in Kant's argument: radical evil, conversion to the good, founding of a church, and service of God. Chapter VIII shows how Kant regards Christianity as the best historical manifestation of the universal religion of reason established by systemr. Kant's interpretations often provide richly symbolic ways of interpreting the Old Testament's creation story, the New Testament's gospel, and numerous church doctrines and rituals. Rather than being reductionistic, systemr leaves a space for something outside the boundaries of human reason. Following a hint Kant gives in the Preface to Kt8, Chapter IX takes up the Perspective of the biblical theologian: the Greatest Commandment and the Great Commission are used to construct a systematic biblical theology that is surprisingly consistent with Kant's general approach to theology and religion. The one crucial element that still seems to be missing from Kant's System up to this point, rendering it apparently inadequate for use in the context of any real, lived religion, is a place for religious experience.
The task of demonstrating that Kant's System of Perspectives actually provides the means of solving this final problem is taken up in Part Four. After some initial reflections on the nature of mysticism and religious experience, Chapter X explains why most interpreters believe Kant rejects even the possibility of mystical experience. As long as mystical experiences are not regarded as conveying empirical knowledge, and as long as they do result in an improvement or strengthening of the person's moral outlook, a refined or 'Critical' form of mysticism can be seen to fit quite comfortably into Kant's System. A wealth of textual evidence is amassed to show that, in fact, Kant was no stranger to mystical ideas and metaphors. Chapter XI enters into a debate over the issue of what Kant meant when he wrote, towards the end of his life, that a 'gap' still remained in his System. In contrast to a rather unlikely conjecture made by Förster, I defend the view that Kant's final, unfinished book (Opus Postumum [Kt9]) was intended to be the 'Grand Synthesis' of his metaphysical works, and that the gap was 'tantalizing' precisely because of its mystical character. The final chapter examines the textual evidence for interpreting Kt9 as an extended defense of the Critical mysticism that Kant's entire System was devoted to developing. Kant's treatment of our immediate awareness of the categorical imperative as the 'voice of God' in our hearts and his corresponding treatment of ether or the caloric as an invisible 'hand of God' in nature reveal the purpose of Kt9 to be that of establishing the twofold foundation of Critical mysticism, culminating in the ideal God-man (i.e., Christ) as the final philosophical justification for a religious and theological outlook on life.
The purpose of this first sequel to KSP1, then, is to replace the typical interpretation of Kant's theology and philosophy of religion as an austere, deistic agnosticism and moral reductionism with a more accurate interpretation, revealing a richer and more viable, theocentric System. My hope is to unveil the heart of what Cassirer aptly calls 'the critical philosophy's new theoretical [i.e., philosophical] perspective on the world and on life' [Ca81:38]. After gaining a new appreciation for the crucial role religious experience has in authenticating, or 'bringing home', the reality of the Kantian God, who otherwise risks being merely an idea in our mind, we shall examine in a series of nine Appendices various finer points of detailed interpretation. However, the last two, on prayer (AVIII) and Kantian Christianity (AIX), should be of more general interest.
My conviction in writing this book is that the theocentric orientation of Kant's philosophy not only serves the crucial philosophical role of unifying, and in a sense even completing, his System, but also provides philosophers and theologians with a rich and practicable framework for structuring our thought. The important task of bringing together the philosophical and theological strands in Kant's System [cf. AV, below] will be facilitated throughout the book by the use of geometrical figures as 'models' [see KSP1:I.2 and III.3]; for they convey a clear and precise picture of what might be called a spiritual guiding-thread running through every aspect of his philosophy [cf. Ma68:24 and Kt7:389], forming the very heart of the System. When their significance is grasped, philosophers and theologians alike should agree that Kant's System of Perspectives, far from being philosophically inconsistent or theologically aversive, establishes a context that is satisfactory for both and can therefore serve as common ground for interdisciplinary dialogue.