Kant's Theistic Solution To The Problem Of Transcendental Theology
by Stephen Palmquist
1. The Problem of Transcendental Theology
Kant's transcendental philosophy begins with an attempt to solve the
theoretical problem of the possibility of synthetic a priori judgments. In
solving this epistemological problem Kant demonstrates how transcendental
knowledge (i.e., knowledge of the synthetic a priori conditions for the
possibility of experience) is possible only when its application is confined to
the realm of empirical knowledge (i.e., to experience). He argues that
space, time, and the twelve categories form the transcendental boundary line
between what we can and cannot know. But this 'solution' itself calls
attention to an even more significant problem: what is the status of that
which lies outside the boundary of possible empirical knowledge? Kant
reveals as early as CPR xxix-xxxi1 that this metaphysical problem of how
to verify the fundamental human ideas of 'God, freedom, and immortality',
upon which he believes all religion and morality depend, constitutes the
deepest and most urgent form of the 'transcendental problem'. It should
therefore come as no surprise when he devotes the entire Transcendental
Dialectic, the largest section of the first Critique, to the task of solving this
ubiquitous perplexity of human reason.
According to Kant our ideas of God, freedom, and immortality
inevitably arise in the human mind as a result of our attempts to unify and
systematize our empirical knowledge. In other words, reason naturally
seeks for something beyond the limits of empirical knowledge which can
supply unity and coherence to the diversity of facts which fall within that
boundary. The problem is that the transcendental conditions which enable
us to gain knowledge in the empirical world are unable to perform their
function with respect to such ideas, because the ideas abstract from all
sensible content, whereas the transcendental conditions (space, time and the
categories) all require such content.
As is well known, Kant devoted considerable effort in the
Transcendental Dialectic to the task of pointing out the implications of this
transcendental problem for rational psychology (with its proofs of the
immortality of the soul), rational cosmology (with its proofs of
transcendental freedom), and rational theology (with its proofs of the
existence of God). Interpreters often assume Kant sought to demonstrate
the total uselessness of all such 'speculative' disciplines, especially when it
comes to theology, where he offers his radical criticisms of the three
traditional proofs for the existence of God. Since Kant's division and
negative assessment of these proofs has become common knowledge
among theologians and philosophers of religion, there is no need to rehearse
his position here.
The attentive reader of Kant's writings will notice that he regarded
the failure of the traditional proofs for God's existence not as closing the
books on the issue, but as posing one of the most important problems for
transcendental philosophy to resolve. Although some theologians fear that
Kant's criticism of traditional rational theology could, in the long run, have
a detrimental effect on the ordinary religious believer, Kant's disagreement
with such a 'sophisticated' conjecture is explicit and to the point:
In religion the knowledge of God is properly based on faith alone .... [So]
it is not necessary for this belief [i.e., in God] to be susceptible of logical
proof.... [For] sophistication is the error of refusing to accept any religion
not based on a theology which can be apprehended by our reason....
Sophistication in religious matters is a dangerous thing; our reasoning
powers are limited and reason can err and we cannot prove everything. A
speculative basis is a very weak foundation for religion... [LE 86-7; cf. CJ
The problem, then is to discover the proper foundation which can be put in
the place of speculation.
What is not so well known is that Kant saw his philosophical
System not only as posing this problem, but as offering at least four distinct
ways of solving it. So, even though Kant begins his theology on an
essentially negative theological note, believing he has been able 'to discover
the fallacy in any attempt [to prove God's existence theoretically], and so to
nullify its claims' [CPR 667], nevertheless he devotes considerable effort to
the task of showing how an honest recognition of the limitations of human
reason leaves ample room for drawing affirmative theological conclusions in
a theoretical discussion of God's existence and nature. In what follows I
will examine these affirmations in turn, with a view towards assessing the
common assumption that his theology defends an entirely negative position,
suuch as deism, and thereby ascertaining his true attitude towards theology.
2. God as a Regulative Idea
Kant believes it is important for us to form some judgment on the
question of God's existence despite the transcendental limitations imposed
on human knowledge. He explains that there is
a real need associated with reason itself [which] makes judging necessary
even if ignorance with respect to the details required for judging limits us...
If then it has been demonstrated that there can be here neither intuition of
objects nor anything similar to such intuitions by which we could exhibit
appropriate objects to our broadened concepts and thus make sure of their
real possibility, nothing remains for us except first to test the concept with
which we venture beyond all possible experience to see if it is free of
contradictions, and then to bring at least the relation of this object to objects
of experience under pure concepts of reason. By this we do not make the
object sensuous. We only fit something supersensuous to thought in
reason's empirical perspective, for without this precaution we could make
no use of such a concept and would rave instead of think.2
Kant's criticism of the traditional proofs is actually designed to fulfil the
first of these tasks, by demonstrating that belief in God cannot be logically
contradictory, since God's existence, regarded as a constitutive part of the
world, can never be proved or disproved, on the grounds that an intuition of
God is, in principle, impossible. The second task is fulfilled in a lengthy
Appendix to the Transcendental Dialectic [CPR 671-732], where Kant
offers an alternative explanation of the epistemological status of the idea of
God--an explanation which is often not treated very seriously by
Kant's first theological affirmation provides an explanation for a
commonly experienced paradox, which Kant expresses in CPR 643 by
asking: 'Why are we constrained to assume that some one among existing
things is in itself necessary, and yet at the same time to shrink back from the
existence of such a being as from an abyss?' Dialectical illusion results only
if we try to subdue one of these natural tendencies. Those who try to prove
God's existence theoretically are repressing the latter, while those who
categorically deny God's existence are repressing the former. But if the
truth which lies behind both tendencies is grasped, both errors can be
avoided. The situation which gives rise to this paradox is that 'I can never
complete the regress to the conditions of existence save by assuming a
necessary being, and yet am never in a position to begin [such a regress]
with such a being' [CPR 643-4].
The two sides of this paradox can be made compatible by
recognizing the 'merely heuristic and regulative' character of the principles
underlying each side:
The one [principle] prescribes that we are to philosophise about nature as if
there were a necessary first ground for all that belongs to existence--solely,
however, for the purpose of bringing systematic unity into our knowledge,
by always pursuing such an idea, as an imagined ultimate ground. The
other warns us not to regard any determination whatsoever of existing
things as such an ultimate ground... [CPR 644-5e.a.]
Whereas all theoretical arguments about the existence of God are bound to
fail in their attempt to establish knowledge of God as an ideal object, these
two principles suggest that the concept of God can have a valid use after all
as long as it is regarded, less ambitiously, as an idea of reason. Since I
have discussed the general character of this regulative employment of the
ideas in some detail elsewhere [see FKK 452-5 and KE 190-6], I will
proceed directly to a discussion of its implications for our theoretical
understanding of the concept of God.
A theoretical discussion of God's existence and attributes, Kant
argues, cannot be based 'upon the knowledge of such a being but upon its
idea only' [CPR 729e.a.]. From the standpoint of theoretical reason our
idea of God
is postulated only problematically (since we cannot reach it through any of
the concepts of the understanding) in order that we may view all connection
of the things of the world of sense as if they had their ground in [it]... In
thus proceeding, our sole purpose is to secure systematic unity... 
In such usage God is 'an idea which reason is constrained to form as the
regulative principle of its investigation of nature' . As such, it is used
as a principle for viewing empirical objects from a hypothetical, not an
empirical, perspective. (The latter would be a constitutive use of the idea in
reference to the world.)
Kant explains the proper use of an idea as follows:
I think to myself merely the relation of a being, in itself completely
unknown to me, to the greatest possible systematic unity of the universe,
solely for the purpose of using [the unconditioned object] as a schema of the
regulative principle of the greatest possible empirical employment of my
The purpose of Kant's whole treatment of the idea of God in CPR is to
establish the right to use this theoretical concept from other, nontheoretical
standpoints [see above, note 2]. His criticism of the traditional proofs does
this by demonstrating that, although the concept cannot be instantiated in
experience, it is at least not self-contradictory. The function of this concept
as a regulative idea can therefore be put forward as a reasonable hypothesis
(i.e., as plausible, though not provable), even from the standpoint of
theoretical reason. Far from being an afterthought, this theory is at the core
Kant's theological concern. As Despland points out in KHR 146: 'The
unique strength of criticism is that "rational" is not restricted in meaning to
cognitive. The Ideas of reason can be thought rationally without being
objectified into possible objects of knowledge.'
'Hypotheses', Kant urges in CPR 805, are 'permissible only as
weapons of war, and only for the purpose of defending a right, not in order
to establish it.' They can be invaluable tools, when used 'in self-defence',
in order to nullify 'the sophistical arguments by which our opponent
professes to invalidate this assertion [of God's existence]' [804-5]. Yet
they cannot be used dogmatically, since the sceptic can also produce
opposing hypotheses. Since theoretical reason 'does not...favour either of
the two parties', hypotheses can be used 'only in polemical fashion.' So a
proper view of hypotheses limits dogmatists by refusing them knowledge,
while yet limiting sceptics by upholding the right to believe. These warring
parties, Kant explains, both 'lie in ourselves'; and the task of criticism is to
remove 'the root of these disturbances' in order to 'establish a permanent
peace' [805-6]. Once we recognize that hypotheses, 'although they are but
leaden weapons', are required 'for our complete equipment' in fulfilling this
purpose, we will see that there is 'nothing to fear in all this, but much to
hope for; namely, that we may gain for ourselves a possession which can
never again be contested.' By establishing peace in our system of
theoretical knowledge, the regulative use of the idea of God directs our
attention forward to the other Critical standpoints in anticipation of a more
complete justification for belief in God.
This affirmation of the benefits of the regulative employment of our
idea of God is frequently rejected prematurely by Kant's critics. One of the
most common criticisms is that science (especially since Darwin) simply has
no use for postulating 'the idea of God...as a heuristic device in the
empirical study of nature' [KRT 145]. But this is based on a complete
misunderstanding of the perspective from which Kant is speaking: he never
intends the ideas to be used as regulative principles from an empirical
perspective, such as that adopted by the natural scientist; for he insists that
'just because it is a mere idea, [the idea of God] is altogether incapable...of
enlarging our knowledge in regard to what exists' [CPR 630-1]. Hence it
cannot serve as the constitutive 'ground of the systematic order of the
world' [709; cf. 724-5]. This function is fulfilled on the material side by
the thing in itself and on the formal side by reason's architectonic forms [see
Instead, the ideas are to function regulatively only in the context of
reason's special hypothetical perspective. To think otherwise is to ignore
the fact that metaphysics 'does not need the ideas for the purposes of natural
science, but in order to pass beyond nature' [395n]. In other words, these
regulative principles concern how 'to philosophise about nature' [CPR 644,
q.a.], not how to investigate nature scientifically. Accordingly, Kant
harshly condemns the latter approach:
To have recourse to God...in explaining the [physical] 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 the possibility of
something he sees before his very eyes.3
Just as the regulative use of an idea assumes it not to have 'creative power',
but to 'have practical power..., and form the basis of the possible perfection
of certain actions' [CPR 597], so also such regulative usage implies nothing
about how we are to go about gathering empirical knowledge, but only
about how we are to structure our beliefs about the source of the ultimate
unity of that knowledge: much as a (e.g., religious) vision of the 'not yet'
can act as a powerful force pulling us forward towards the realization of a
hope, the idea motivates us to search for systematic unity in our
Another frequent complaint against Kant's plea that we be satisfied
with regarding God as a regulative idea is made by those theologians who
are (as Kant says with respect to the moral philosophers of his day)
'dedicated to the omnipotence of theoretical reason' [Kt6:377]. He
...the discomfort they feel at not being able to explain what lies entirely
beyond the sphere of physiological explanation [e.g., the idea of God]
provokes them to a general call to arms, as it were, to withstand that Idea,
no matter how exalting this very prerogative of man--his capacity for such
an Idea--may be.
That is to say, they reject the notion of God as an idea not because it is
incoherent, but because it does not provide what they are looking for, viz.
certain knowledge of God's existence and nature. Because Kant says, for
example, that 'this Idea proceeds entirely from our own reason and we
ourselves make it' , they disregard his many other claims to believe in
a real, living God, as in traditional theism.5 Such a premature rejection of
his position fails to recognize that, as in virtually every other aspect of his
System, Kant often gives different answers to the same question when
different perspectives are assumed. Hence, viewing 'God' from the
theoretical standpoint as a man-made idea does not prevent us from adopting
some other standpoint in order to affirm that a real, transcendent God
3. Natural Theology
Kant's theory concerning the regulative idea of God is actually the
least important of his three ways of affirming the rationality of theology; for
'the conception of a Deity...can never be evolved merely according to
principles of reason's theoretical standpoint' [Kt7:400]. So in addition to
such transcendental theology, he develops his own type of natural theology
in the second and third Critiques. A thorough examination of his moral and
physicotheological arguments for God's existence will help to reveal the
systematic character of his general concept of God and to demonstrate the
richness and depth of this 'guiding-thread' [cf. CJ 389] of his System.
Kant affirms the physicotheological proof in the third Critique, yet
this does not nullify the limitations he places on it in CPR; for the standpoint
from which it is discussed in CJ is judicial rather than theoretical. The same
theoretical concept (God) is still under consideration; from the outset,
however, Kant is now aiming to establish not theoretical knowledge, but
only an empirical justification of a practical belief. Even in CPR Kant
explicitly allows for such a usage: he argues that we are 'undoubtedly'
permitted, if not required, 'to assume a wise and omnipotent Author of the
world', as long as we realize that such an assumption does not in any way
'extend our knowledge beyond the field of experience' [725-6]. Elsewhere,
he develops this idea a bit further:
Physicotheology...can enlighten and give intuitive appeal to our concepts of
God. But it cannot have any determinate concept of God. For only reason
can represent completeness and totality. In physicotheology I see God's
power. But can I say determinately, this is omnipotence or the highest
degree of power? [LPT 32-3]
The implicit answer, of course, is 'no'. For although it has a constructive
role to play, physicotheology on its own is 'unable to...serve as the
foundation of a theology which is itself in turn to form the basis of religion'
[CPR 656]. Instead, Kant intends it to point the way outward from
experience to moral activity, where theology has a more secure foundation.
Kant argues in CJ 389 that empirical reflection on 'the clearly
manifest nexus of things according to final causes' requires us to conceive
of 'a world-cause acting according to ends, that is, an intelligent cause--
however rash and undemonstrable a principle this might be for the
determinant judgment.' He bases this conclusion on the specific
phenomenon of finality in our experience of the world:
...the nature of our faculty of reason is such that without an Author and
Governor of the world, who is also a moral Lawgiver [see below], we are
wholly unable to render intelligible to ourselves the possibility of a finality,
related to the moral law, and its Object, such as exists in this final end.
In particular Kant emphasizes that 'the end for which nature itself exists' is
man, and that 'it is upon the definite idea of this end that the definite
conception of such a supreme intelligent World-Cause, and, consequently,
the possibility of a theology, depend' . Viewed from the judicial
standpoint of CJ rather than the theoretical standpoint of CPR, this
argument is, as Wood points out in KMR 174, directed not so much to the
theoretical philosopher as to the ordinary man: 'the ordinary man "sees"
nature as the work of God, and discerns in it--what no amount of empirical
evidence could have demonstrated--the signs of a divine and morally
purposive creation' . Yet even from the standpoint of CJ
physicotheology on its own is quite limited, for experience 'can never lift us
above nature to the end of its real existence or thus raise us to a definite
conception of such a higher Intelligence' [CJ 438; see also LPT 38]. Thus
'physical teleology urges us to go in quest of a theology. But it can never
produce one' [CJ 440]; for 'physico-theology...is of no use to theology
except as a preparation or propaedeutic and is only sufficient for this
purpose when supplemented by a further principle on which it can rely'
Rather than depending on the speculative proofs of transcendental
theology, however, Kant's physicotheology depends on the proof provided
by moral theology from the practical standpoint: 'underlying our procedure
[in physicotheology] is an idea of a Supreme Being, which rests on an
entirely different standpoint [than the judicial], namely the practical' [CJ
438]. Kant sums up the preparatory function of physicotheology in DV
481, where, in his example of 'a moral catechism' , the final comment
of the pupil is:
For we see in the works of nature, which we can judge, a wisdom so
widespread and profound that we can explain it to ourselves only by the
ineffably great art of a creator of the world. And from this we have cause,
when we turn to the moral order...to expect there a rule no less wise.
4. The Moral Argument as the Basis for Kant's Theism
Kant's moral argument for the existence of God is the only aspect of
his solution to the problem of transcendental theology which has been duly
recognized by his commentators. In its simplest form, his argument is
fairly straightforward. After arguing that the highest good consists of the
distribution of happiness to each person in proportion to his or her virtue,
Kant points out that, given the nature of human virtue (viz., that it often
requires us to deny our own happiness in order to obey the voice of duty),
man on his own is unlikely to bring into being this ideal end of morality.
Yet if the end or purpose of morality proves to be unattainable, moral action
itself will be irrational. Hence, anyone who wishes to regard moral action
as rational is constrained to postulate whatever is necessary to conceive of
the possibility of the highest good. As is well known, Kant argues that the
immortality of the soul and the existence of God are the two postulates
which alone can save morality from the abyss of meaninglessness.
Although Kant's basic argument is familiar enough, its intended
force is often misunderstood, especially by those who fail to take into
consideration the different perspectives in Kant's System. In the first place,
Kant's moral argument has little, if anything, to do with his theory of
religion (a point often misunderstood by those who write on the latter
subject). Instead, the postulate of God is intended to perform its function
exclusively within the final stage of Kant's practical (moral) system, where
it suggests that rational moral agents are, in fact, acting as if God exists
whenever they act morally, whether or not they claim to believe in God. In
other words, God's existence, though not theoretically provable, is
nevertheless a necessary assumption for any moral agent who wishes to
conceive of the highest good as being realizable (and therefore, of moral
action as being ultimately rational).
What then are the specific implications of Kant's moral argument for
the theologian's attempt to prove the existence of God? Kant's argument,
as summarized in CJ 446, is that every moral agent
needs a moral Intelligence; because he exists for an end, and this end
demands a Being that has formed both him and the world [i.e., both
freedom and nature] with that end in view.... Hence...there is in our moral
habits of thought a foundation for...form[ing] a representation depicting a
pure moral need for the real existence of a Being, whereby our morality
gains in strength or even obtains --at least on the side of our representation--
an extension of area, that is to say, is given a new object for its exercise.
The resulting concept of 'a moral Legislator' has no theoretical value; yet,
the source of this disposition is unmistakable. It is the original bent of our
nature, as a subjective principle, that will not let us be satisfied, in our
review of the world, with the finality which it derives through natural
causes, but leads us to introduce into it an underlying supreme Cause
governing nature according to moral laws. --In addition...we feel ourselves
urged by the moral law to strive after a universal highest end, while yet we
feel ourselves, and all nature too, incapable of its attainment.... Thus we
have a pure moral ground derived from practical reason for admitting this
Cause (since we may do so without contradiction), if for no better reason,
in order that we may not run the risk of regarding such striving as quite idle
in its effects, and of allowing it to flag in consequence.
After presenting his moral argument for the existence of God in the
second Critique [CPrR], Kant asks: 'Is our knowledge really widened in
such a way by pure practical reason, and is that which was transcendent for
speculative reason immanent in practical reason? Certainly, but only from a
practical standpoint' . Earlier, he warns against assuming that the
conclusions of his practical system merely 'serve to fill out gaps in the
critical system of speculative reason' . Kant does on a few occasions
make careless remarks, such as that 'a faith in God built on this [moral]
foundation is as certain as a mathematical demonstration' [LPT 40]. (He
should at least have added that there is a crucial perspectival difference
between the type of certainty we have in each case.) But such remarks
should not be given priority over his many other, more carefully worded,
comments regarding the perspectival structure of his System. For, as he
states so clearly in CPR 857, 'no one will be able to boast that he knows
that there is a God [i.e., from a theoretical standpoint]... No, my conviction
is not logical but moral certainty...'. Thus Wood insists 'it would be a great
mistake to see in the God of Kant's moral faith no more than an abstract,
metaphysical idea. For Kant moral faith in God is, in it[s] most profound
and personal signification, the moral man's trust in God.'6
Kant's moral argument, therefore, is not to be regarded as 'an
incontrovertible proof', as the traditional theoretical proofs attempt to be
[CPR 665]. As Kant says in CJ 450-1:
This moral argument is not intended to supply an objectively valid proof of
the existence of God. It is not meant to demonstrate to the sceptic that there
is a God, but that he must adopt the assumption of this proposition as a
maxim of his practical reason, if he wishes to think in a manner consistent
As a practical 'presupposition' of our moral activity, it 'cannot be brought to
a higher degree of certainty than the acknowledgement that it is the most
reasonable opinion for us men' [CPrR 142]. Accordingly, Kant describes it
as a 'doctrinal belief' [CPR 853], which means it is, 'from an objective
perspective, an expression of modesty, and yet at the same time, from a
subjective perspective, an expression of the firmness of our confidence'
. For one who accepts this practical postulate and decides to believe in
God must resolve within himself 'not [to] give up this belief' [CPrR 143].
By accepting the conclusions established by moral theology, and
supported by physicotheology, especially the conclusion that theology
should be 'founded on the moral principle, namely that of freedom, and
adapted, therefore, to reason's practical standpoint', Kant believes theology
might 'better fulfil [its] final objective purpose' [CJ 479]. The limitation of
basing theology on practical rather than theoretical reason is that its
conclusions are now 'of immanent use only' [CPR 847]:
[Moral theology] enables us to fulfil our vocation in this present world by
showing us how to adapt ourselves to the system of all ends [i.e., to the
practical standpoint], and by warning us against the fanaticism, and indeed
the impiety, of abandoning the guidance of a morally legislative reason in
the right conduct of our lives, in order to derive guidance directly from the
idea of the Supreme Being [i.e., from the theoretical standpoint]. For we
should then be making a transcendental employment of moral theology; and
that, like a transcendent use of pure speculation, must pervert and frustrate
the ultimate ends of reason. 
However, once its purely immanent use is understood, the common
criticism that Kant's moral postulates are merely 'a side gesture, [pointing]
beyond the limits which he himself had drawn', is immediately seen to be
The importance of this point can hardly be overemphasized: Kant's
moral proof of God's existence is in no sense intended to satisfy the
requirements of the theoretical standpoint; rather it directs our attention away
from the theoretical, away from scientific knowledge, whether
transcendental, logical, empirical, or hypothetical/speculative, and towards
the practical standpoint, which serves as the only context in which the
concept of God can be rationally justified.8 He states this as plainly as one
could expect in LPT 39:
Thus all speculation depends...on the transcendental concept [of an
absolutely necessary being]. But if we posit that it is not correct, would we
then have to give up the knowledge of God? Not at all. For then we would
only lack the scientific knowledge that God exists. But a great field would
still remain to us, and this would be the belief or faith that God exists. This
faith we will derive a priori from moral principles. Hence if...we raise
doubts about these speculative proofs...we will not thereby undermine faith
in God. Rather, we will clear the road for practical proofs. We are merely
throwing out the false presumptions of human reason when it tries from
itself to demonstrate the existence of God with apodictic certainty. But from
moral principles we will assume a faith in God as the principle of every
In CJ 482 he deliberates with equal clarity:
...we shall not feel that the assurance produced by this [moral] line of proof
falls in any way short of the final purposes it has in view [viz. establishing a
rational foundation for religion] provided we are clear on the point that an
argument of this kind only proves the existence of God in a way that
satisfies the moral side of our nature, that is, from a practical standpoint....
[Therefore,] while the categories are here used on behalf of the knowledge
of God, they are not directed to the intrinsic, and for us inscrutable, nature
When we read Kant giving one or another of his various accounts of
God's nature,10 we must always keep in mind that he is not contradicting
his own theoretical principles by suggesting that we can know God's
attributes after all, but only urging that, despite our inherent ignorance of
God's essence, necessitated by the perspectival nature of human rationality,
it is legitimate for practical purposes to make assumptions about God, as
long as we recognize the dependence of such descriptions on our own
perspectives, and so use the resulting 'knowledge' only as an aid in coping
with our earthly existence (especially with respect to our moral activity).
One of the main purposes of CPR is to prepare the way for such a theology
by replacing the positive noumenon with the negative noumenon--i.e., by
replacing the rationalist belief in a speculative realm which transcends the
phenomenal world with the Critical belief in a practical realm which is
revealed in and through moral experience. Any attempt to possess God
must therefore be given up and replaced by a willingness to be possessed by
Kant suggests in CJ 444 that 'all transcendental attributes [of God],
...attributes that are presupposed in relation to such a final end, will have to
be regarded as belonging to the Original Being. --In this way moral
teleology supplements the deficiency of physical teleology, and for the first
time establishes a [moral] theology.'11 Thus the moral theology towards
which physical teleology directs our attention provides the only adequate
philosophical basis for a belief in the existence of God, and so for a
regulative use of the idea of God in theoretical contexts [see CPR 664] by
supplying not knowledge but 'a conviction of the existence of a supreme
being--a conviction which bases itself on moral laws' [660n]. With this
foundation, our concept of God 'meets the joint requirements alike of
insight into nature and moral wisdom--and no objection of the least
substance can be brought against the possibility of such an idea' [CJ 462].
With the existence of God thus vindicated as a legitimate object of belief, we
can now conclude by stepping back and briefly assessing the character of
Kant's own attitude towards belief in God.
Kant's approach to theology is typically characterized as implying,
in the words of Cupitt, 'a non-cognitive philosophy of religion which leaves
the believer to be sustained in a harsh world by nothing but pure moral
faith'.12 But in fact, Kant's theological and religious views are not so
'bleak and austere' as is often assumed. On the contrary, such an
assumption, like most misinterpretations of Kant, rests on a failure to
understand how the principle of perspective operates in his System. It is
true that his practical postulates as such are not much help in facing the
harsh realities of human existence, but they are not primarily intended to
fulfil such an empirical role; for Kant offers us a good deal more in the way
of equipping us with tools to cope with reality. The most significant of
these, which concern Kant's view of God as participating in human
morality and as relating on a personal basis with his creatures, are beyond
the scope of our present inquiry.13
Nevertheless, the foregoing account of Kant's solution to the
problem of transcendental theology has, I hope, made abundantly clear that
Kant's theology is not that of a 'deist', as is so often assumed, but is the
rational framework for a 'theism' which has rarely been adequately
appreciated by his interpreters. This failure is due in part to the fact that
theologians and philosophers of religion often group Kant on the side of
those who argue 'that God is utterly unknowable', and that therefore
'theology is a useless effort'.14 The latter conclusion does seem to follow
naturally from the deistic assumption that God is utterly unknowable, an
assumption Kant apparently adopts in his denial of our ability to intuit God.
But this interpretation reflects a rather narrow acquaintance with Kant's
writings. For, even in the Preface to Religion within the Bounds of Bare
Reason Kant says with no apparent irony that the philosopher and the
theologian should see themselves not as rivals, out to destroy each other,
but as co-workers, mutual friends and companions.
Kant defines theology as 'the system of our knowledge of the
highest being'; it 'does not refer to the sum total of all possible knowledge
of God, but only to what human reason meets with in God' [LPT 23; cf.
CPR 659]. The 'knowledge of everything in God', which Kant calls
'theologia archetypa', is unattainable for man, while 'that part of God which
lies in human nature', the knowledge of which he calls 'theologia ectypa', is
attainable.15 Within the latter he distinguishes between deism and theism:
'Those who accept only a transcendental theology [i.e., knowledge of God
based on the theoretical standpoint] are called deists; those who also admit a
natural theology [i.e., knowledge of God based on the practical or judicial
standpoints] are called theists' [CPR 659; see also 660-1; LPT 28-9]. Kant
therefore believes the distinction between the theist and the deist concerns
not only one's theoretical standpoint, but also one's particular (moral and
empirical) experiences of the God whom such theories are intended to
describe. Deists, then, are those who, after reflecting logically and/or
transcendentally on the concept of God, come up with a positive answer to
the question of His existence. Theists are open to these two perspectives,
but regard them as only secondary to the more basic use of empirical and/or
hypothetical perspectives in developing a theoretical affirmation of God.
Only from the latter two perspectives can God be regarded not just as 'an
original being or supreme cause' (as in deism), but also as 'a supreme being
who through understanding and freedom is the Author of all things'. Thus,
Kant asserts 'that the deist believes in a God, the theist in a living God'
Kant demonstrates in numerous ways that he is, given the above
definitions, a thoroughly theistic philosopher. Not the least of the reasons
for regarding Kant as a theist is that, as we have seen, he replaces the
deist's reliance on the theoretical standpoint with a theology firmly rooted in
the practical standpoint. Thus he confesses in CPR 856: 'I inevitably
believe in the existence of God..., and I am certain that nothing can shake
this belief, since my moral principles would thereby be themselves
overthrown, and I cannot disdain them without becoming abhorrent in my
own eyes.' Ironically, the very criticisms of the traditional theoretical
arguments for God's existence with which Kant begins his critical theology,
though they were designed to pave the way for a practical theism, are (as we
have noted) often the basis upon which Kant is misinterpreted as being
himself a deist!16
Kant is indeed acutely aware of the problems posed to theological
knowledge by human ignorance: 'Both in theology and in religion, but
particularly in theology, we are handicapped by ignorance' [LE 85].
Sometimes even when we think we have knowledge, he tells us, we
actually have 'no concept at all' of God [LPT 24]. But as Wood points out,
this does not make him a deist [KMR 155,164], for he means by this that
'our concept of God is an idea of reason' [KRT 79], rather than a concept
which rises out of abstraction from appearances. For Kant holds that 'we
cannot intuit God, but can only believe in him' [LE 99]; yet 'in order to
believe in God it is not necessary to know for certain that God exists' .
On the contrary, as Wood again conveys Kant's view, 'the "minimum"
theology it is necessary to have is a belief that God is at least possible'
[KMR 31]. Kant believes the ideas of 'God, freedom, and the immortality
of the soul are the problems to whose solution, as their ultimate goal, all the
laborious preparations of metaphysics are directed' [CJ 473]; and his
System of Perspectives is intended to solve these problems once and for all
by developing a theistic philosophy which rejects the false foundations
offered by theoretical reason. Hence, in a choice between atheism, deism,
anthropomorphism and theism, Kant would undoubtedly favour theism.17
Because Kant's theology guards against what might be called
'gnostic' errors (such as anthropomorphism), into which dogmatic
theologians and philosophers of religion repeatedly fall, he is branded an
agnostic. And because his theology likewise takes seriously the objections
advanced by the atheist, he is branded a deist. Yet a perspectival
interpretation reveals that his response to the problem of transcendental
theology was that of neither a deist nor an agnostic, but a theist in a quite
profound sense of the word. Ironically, those who label Kant as a deist or
an agnostic are often those who would call themselves theists because of
their affirmative response to the traditional arguments of speculative
theology. Yet for Kant this is not good enough: no one can claim to be a
theist on the strength merely of logical ingenuity, for theism depends on a
belief in a God who manifests Himself as 'a living God' in our immediate
experience, whereas the ontological and cosmological arguments portray
God 'wholly separate from any experience' [LPT 30]. If anyone is a deist,
then, it is not Kant, who believes in a God who purposely hides his true
nature from us, but gives us enough evidence to make a reasoned step of
faith, after which we are able to understand God's nature with sufficient
clarity in terms of our finite human perspectives; rather it is those who put
all their trust in the powers of theoretical reason and toil endlessly and in
vain to attain knowledge which is not to be had by us men. The religious
implications of Kant's theism are not always entirely consistent with
orthodox Christianity; yet they are not as inconsistent as is often assumed.
For, although it is couched in the difficult terminology of a highly complex
philosophical System, Kant's theism is not significantly different (in its
general intent, at least) from the theism expressed by the writer of 2 Cor.
4:7 when he proclaims that 'the transcendent power [he huperbol ts
dunámeôs] belongs to God and not to us'.
CKC: Lewis White Beck, A Commentary on Kant's Critique of Practical
Reason (London: The University of Chicago Press, 1960).
KMP: Peter Byrne, 'Kant's Moral Proof of the Existence of God', in
Scottish Journal of Theology 32 (1979), pp.333-43.
CPK: Edward Caird, The Critical Philosophy of Immanuel Kant,2 2 vols.
(Glasgow: James Maclehouse and Sons, 1909).
EPR: James Collins, The Emergence of Philosophy of Religion (London &
New Haven: Yale University Press, 1967).
KNT: Don Cupitt, 'Kant and the Negative Theology', in B. Hebblethwaite,
and S. Sutherland (eds.), The Philosophical Frontiers of Christian
Theology (London: Cambridge University Press, 1982), p.55-67.
KHR: Michel Despland, Kant on History and Religion (London and
Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1973).
IK: Lucien Goldmann, Immanuel Kant, tr. Robert Black (London: NLB,
HCRS: Theodore M. Greene, 'The Historical Context and Religious
Significance of Kant's Religion', in RLRA ix-lxxviii.
RPG: Heinrich Heine, Religion and Philosophy in Germany, tr. J.
Snodgrass (Boston: Beacon Press, 1959).
GWB: Grace M. Jantzen, God's World God's Body (London: Darton,
Longmann and Todd, 1984).
CPR: Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (1781,1787), tr. N. Kemp
Smith (London: Macmillan & Co. Ltd., 1929).
PFM: -----, Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics (1783), tr. L.W. Beck
(New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1950).
WOT: -----, What is Orientation in Thinking? (1786), tr. L.W. Beck in
CPrR:-----, Critique of Practical Reason (1788), tr. L.W. Beck
(Indianapolis, Indiana: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1956).
CJ: -----, Critique of Judgement (1790), tr. J.C. Meredith (Oxford: The
Clarendon Press, 1952).
DV: -----, The Doctrine of Virtue, tr. M.J. Gregor (Philadelphia: University
of Pennsylvania Press, 1964).
RLRA:-----, Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone (1793), tr. T.M.
Greene and H.H. Hudson (New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1960).
GTLA:-----, Of a Gentle Ton Lately Assumed in Philosophy (1796), in
Essays and Treatises on Moral, Political, Religious and Various
Philosophical Subjects, anonymous translator J. Richardson (London:
William Richardson, 1798-9), vol.2, pp.159-87.
PM: -----, Progress in Metaphysics (1791; ed. F.T. Rink, 1804), tr. Ted
B. Humphrey (New York: Abaris Books, 1983).
LE: -----, Lectures on Ethics (ed. P. Menzer, 1924), tr. L. Infield (London:
Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1979), English pagination.
LPT: -----, Lectures on Philosophical Theology (ed. K. Beyer, 1937), tr.
A.W. Wood and G.M. Clark (London: Cornell University Press, 1978),
KPC: -----, Kant: Philosophical Correspondence 1759-99, tr. and ed.
Arnulf Zweig (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1967).
AKF: J.C. Luik, 'The Ambiguity of Kantian Faith', Scottish Journal of
Theology 36 (1983), p.339-46.
DMK: Donald MacKinnon, 'Kant's Philosophy of Religion', Philosophy L
PC: Greville Norburn, 'Kant's Philosophy of Religion: A Preface to
Christology?' in Scottish Journal of Theology 26 (1973), pp.431-48.
NPG Robert A. Oakes, 'Noumena, Phenomena, and God' in International
Journal For Philosophy of Religion 4 (1973), pp.30-8.
FKK: Stephen Palmquist, 'Faith as Kant's Key to the Justification of
Transcendental Reflection' in The Heythrop Journal XXV (October 1984),
RUKT:-----, 'The Radical Unknowability of Kant's "Thing in Itself",
Cogito III.2 (June 1985), pp.101-115.
SPO: -----, 'Six Perspectives on the Object in Kant's Theory of
Knowledge' in Dialectica 40.2 (l986), pp.121-51.
KE: -----, 'Knowledge and Experience -- An Examination of the Four
Reflective "Perspectives" in Kant's Critical Philosophy' in Kant-Studien 78
KCM: -----, 'Kant's Critique of Mysticism: (2) Critical Mysticism',
Philosophy & Theology 4.1 (Fall 1989), pp.67-94.
DKR: -----, 'Does Kant Reduce Religion to Morality?', Kant-Studien,
RK: Gabriele Rabel (ed.), Kant (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1963).
DKT: Herman-J. de Vleeschauwer, The Development of Kantian Thought,
tr. A.R.C. Duncan (London: Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd., 1962).
KPR: Clement C.J. Webb, Kant's Philosophy of Religion (Oxford: The
Clarendon Press, 1926).
KNF: Don Wiebe, 'The Ambiguous Revolution: Kant on the Nature of
Faith' in Scottish Journal of Theology 33 (1980), p.515-32.
KMR: Allen W. Wood, Kant's Moral Religion (London: Cornell University
KRT: -----, Kant's Rational Theology (London: Cornell University Press,
1. See the Bibliography for the key to abbreviations. All references to CPR
cite the page numbers of the second (1787) German edition. References to
Kant's other writings (except where otherwise noted in the Bibliography)
will cite the pagination of the Akademie edition of Kant's works. For
translations which do not give the German pagination in the margins, the
Akademie page number(s) will be followed by the English pagination in
2. WOT 136-7. Kant continues by explaining that 'the right of a need of
reason enters as the right of a subjective ground to presuppose or assume
something which it may not pretend to know on objective grounds' .
From the former, theoretical standpoint, this 'need of reason' to 'assume the
existence of God' is 'conditional': the assumption only 'needs' to be made
'when we wish to judge concerning the first cause of all contingent things,
particularly in the organization of ends actually present in the world' .
But from the latter, practical standpoint, 'the need is unconditional; here we
are compelled to presuppose the existence of God not just if we wish to
judge but because we must judge' .
3. CPrR 138; see also LPT 25-6. This seems at first to apply equally to
Kant's own assumption of the thing in itself, which he does believe to be
philosophically sound. However, he is speaking here from an empirical
perspective, in the context of which the thing in itself, as positive
noumenon, is indeed superfluous [see section 3 of SPO]; Kant's use of the
thing in itself does not fall under this criticism because it assumes the
transcendental perspective. Hence, when we read Kant warning us that 'a
presumptuous readiness to appeal to supernatural explanations is a pillow
for a lazy understanding' [On the Form and Principles of the Sensible and
Intelligible World (Kant's Inaugural Dissertation), p.418, as translated in
KPR 45], we must be careful not to interpret this too harshly, as does Webb
when he says this claim means that 'the assumption of the supernatural is
excluded on "critical" principles' [KPR 45]. For as we have seen, Kant
actually encourages such an assumption in the appropriate circumstances, as
long as it is put forward without a presumptuous attitude (i.e., as a
theoretical hypothesis rather than a dogmatic knowledge-claim). If Kant's
advice to us in such passages is that supernatural explanations are always
inappropriate, then why does he himself make use of the God hypothesis
throughout his writings? Rather, his message is that we must be careful to
use them wisely--i.e., in such a way that they do not prevent us from
relentlessly seeking natural explanations wherever possible.
4. Kant describes a 'hypothesis' in CPrR 126 as 'a ground of explanation'.
As such, a proper understanding of his theory of the regulative use of the
idea of God from the hypothetical perspective reveals it to be remarkably
similar to modern attempts to defend God's existence as the best
'explanatory hypothesis' [see e.g. PC 441]. There are differences, of
course, such as that the modern versions, while they perhaps benefit from
their freedom from Kant's rather difficult and old-fashioned terminology,
often suffer unnecessarily by mixing different perspectives uncritically
(e.g., by assuming that rigorous logical argumentation is the primary, if not
the only, tool available to defend or refute such hypotheses). But the two
approaches are alike to the extent that they both attempt a theoretical defence
of God's existence not on the basis that the God-hypothesis enables us to
provide a better scientific explanation of the available data, but rather on the
basis that the available data point beyond themselves to something which
can best be explained philosophically in terms of the God-hypothesis. Thus
in both cases the theoretical argument, when properly constructed, assumes
a hypothetical, rather than an empirical, perspective.
5. The issue of Kant's theism will be discussed in more detail at the end of
6. KMR 161. Unfortunately, many interpreters make the very mistake in
interpreting the underlying connotations of Kant's moral argument that
Wood is warning against here. Webb, for example, claims that Kant's
moral argument 'certainly is in no way calculated to express the religious
man's conviction of the reality of the object of his worship' [KPR 66]. If
'the religious man's conviction' here refers to traditional, uncritical ways of
believing in God, then of course Webb is correct, since the argument is
directed to 'the moral man'. But the words 'in no way' are misleading,
since (as I argue in DKR) Kant does intend his argument not only to be
compatible with a religious standpoint, but also to provide a rational
foundation for the fuller conception of the God of religion, as expounded in
his own book, Religion within the Bounds of Bare Reason [i.e., RLRA].
7. See CPK 470. Of course, it almost goes without saying that Kant would
totally reject the implications of the all-too-frequently repeated caricatures
which cast doubt on the sincerity and/or validity of his moral proof. After
mentioning the common complaint 'that while in his first Critique [Kant]
has thrown God out the front door, in the Critique of Practical Reason he let
Him in again by the back door', Rabel insists: 'There is not a shred of truth
in this accusation' [RK vii]. Another myth goes back at least as far as
Heinrich Heine, who claims Kant's revival of God in CPrR (after having
put Him to death in CPR) is proposed by Kant 'half ironically', only
because he recognized that 'Old Lampe must have a God' [RPG 119].
Heine's conjectures reach their height when he suggests that Kant may have
developed his moral proof 'not merely for the sake of old Lampe, but
through fear of the police' [276-7]!
We must admit, with Donald MacKinnon [DMK 133], that
throughout Kant's treatment of God and religion, he often 'tries to do
justice to what at a first reading he seems to dismiss out of hand.' But as
long as we keep in mind Kant's reliance on the principle of perspective, the
sincerity and reasonableness of his attempts to do this should be clear
enough. Thus, rather than taking Heine's caricature too seriously, we can
suggest a more appropriate version of Heine's story: perhaps Kant invented
the moral argument in order to protect his faithful servant (and all others
who humbly recognize, with Kant, the universal limits of 'common human
understanding' [see e.g., CPR xxxii]) from the misuse he knew many
philosophers would make of his negative criticisms of theoretical arguments
for God in CPR. In other words, the moral proof explains not to Lampe
(who has no need of a formal proof), but to Kant's fellow philosophers--
some of whom may well have joined Kant for lunch, and offered snide
remarks attacking the servant's simple faith--why Lampe and all other
human beings have nothing to fear from the limitations of theoretical reason.
8. As Webb puts it in KPR 68, 'Kant...definitely denies that the knowledge
of God, the Object of religion, falls primarily or properly within the spheres
of Physics [cf. the judicial system] or Metaphysics [cf. the theoretical
system]. It is only...to be reached by starting...from the consciousness of
duty or moral obligation [cf. the practical system].' Along these lines, Kant
distinguishes between the moral argument as 'an argument kat' 'ánthropon
valid for all men as rational [i.e., moral] beings in general', and 'the
theoretical-dogmatic argument kat' alytheian' [PM 306].
9. Peter Byrne argues against Kant's moral proof in KMP 337: 'If
knowledge of God is impossible then one cannot have grounds for
believing or thinking that God exists.' He reaches this conclusion,
however, only by presupposing an epistemology quite foreign to Kant,
whereby knowledge is identified with justified belief [336; cf. section 3 of
RUKT]. For Kant, unknowability by no means implies unthinkability.
And he distinguishes between knowledge and belief by explaining that the
evidence for a judgment one believes is true must be 'subjectively
sufficient', but 'objectively insufficient', whereas the evidence for a
judgment one knows is true must be 'sufficient both subjectively and
objectively' [CPR 850]. For Kant, the relevant 'subjective' grounds are, of
Oakes argues against the common assumption that anyone who
believes knowledge of God is possible must reject Kant's doctrine of the
unknowability of noumena [NPG 31]. He argues that Kant was wrong to
construe 'all religious epistemology as necessarily a quest for noumenal
knowing' , because our knowledge of God is, in fact, phenomenal
: 'any sensible experience of God...must be construed as providing
knowledge which is partial or perspectival, i.e., knowledge solely from the
vantage point of a finite knower.' Kant would, of course, agree that all
knowledge is perspectival, but would argue that our 'sensible experience' is
never a direct experience of God, in the way that our empirical knowledge is
a direct experience (i.e., intuition and conception) of empirical objects.
Rather, the religious person regards some experiences as coming from God
by means of the God-hypothesis, which can never yield actual knowledge
of a phenomenon called 'God'. Nevertheless, Kant's treatment of the
experience of God is not far removed from that of Oakes, except that Kant
never regards such experiences as capable of producing knowledge [see
10. Kant offers the theologian various tools to cope with the realities of
human ignorance, in the form of analogical models for God's nature which
represent a balanced and realistic view of some basic theological issues.
These models, though rarely appreciated by his commentators, constitute an
important aspect of Kant's systematic understanding of our theoretical
conception of God's nature, though there will be no opportunity to discuss
them in this paper.
11. 'Moral teleology' is the title Kant gives his moral proof in CJ to show
its structural parallel to teleology proper (i.e., physical teleology). Each is
teleological insofar as it concerns the purpose or final end which must be
posited in order to explain a certain type of experience (viz. of either a moral
or a physical end). Beck's criticism of the moral proof on this account
[CKC 275] is therefore correct, but irrelevant, since this type of teleology is
clearly distinguishable from that discussed elsewhere in CJ.
12. KNT 64. Likewise, Goldmann [IK 201] says Kant believes in: 'A
transcendent superhuman God who has only practical and moral reality but
who lacks independent moral existence...--a more unreal God could
scarcely be imagined.' Such a comment is grossly unfair, however, since
Kant never dogmatically proclaims that God has no such independent
existence, but only warns that if He does, we could never grasp it as an item
of our empirical knowledge.
13. I have discussed this issue in detail in KCM.
14. GWB 1; cf. 42-3. For instance, Goldmann says 'Kant rejected all
positive religion' [IK 194]. Or, as J.C. Luik puts it in AKF 345, 'there is
quite literally no Kantian theology, no religious knowledge for Kant.' Luik
makes this assertion in the process of rejecting Wiebe's claim that for Kant
'"knowledge" of God can be had', though only if it is 'inferred' from
'moral data' [KNF 531]. Although Luik's position would be correct as a
description of Kant's theoretical standpoint, it ignores the fact that for Kant
the practical and judicial standpoints are just as important; for they can each
produce (at least in a symbolic sense) a kind of knowledge of their own.
Thus Kant clearly states that 'all our knowledge of God is merely
symbolic', whereas 'Deism...furnishes no knowledge [of God]
whatsoever' [CJ 353].
15. LPT 23. In his 1796 essay, GTLA 391(164-5), Kant makes a similar
distinction, between Plato's view of 'archetypes (ideas)' as intuitions which
originate in 'the Divine understanding' but can be 'named directly' by man,
and his own belief that 'our intuition of these divine ideas...is distributed to
us but indirectly, as the copies (ectypa)...'
16. Zweig infers from a 1759 letter to Kant that Kant equates 'deism' with
'sanity' [KPC 35n]. Yet Hamann's letter actually portrays Kant as an
arbitrator between Hamann the Christian and Berens the deist. Zweig's
assumption that Kant was on Berens' side is not justified from the content
of the letter, which seems instead to portray Kant in his usual, 'critical'
position as a middle man.
Although Heine caricaturizes CPR as 'the sword that slew deism in
Germany' [RPG 268], he believes CPrR was intended to revive it.
Likewise, Greene regards RLRA as 'a deistic classic' [HCRS lxxvii; see
also p.lxvi]. And Webb implies that Kant was a deist for most of his life
when he says that in his Opus Postumum, Kant 'was prepared to repudiate
...the deism which had been so predominant in his youth--the deism which
taught a merely transcendent God' [KPR 200-1]. Ironically, Vleeschauwer
sees in this same work 'a public confession of deism' [DKT 177]!
There is, however, a growing rank of scholars who reject such
interpretations. Despland, for example, argues that in his philosophy of
religion 'Kant...moved beyond the classical deist position' [KHR 198; see
also pp.199-201,228,262; and PC 431; KNF 515]. For as Collins puts it:
'Kant regards religious deism and the varieties of nature-based theism as
incomplete, preliminary forms of religious life.' [EPR 117]. Indeed, as I
have demonstrated elsewhere [see DKR and KCM], Kant moves beyond
these to form a moral theism--one which is thoroughly compatible with his
Critical principles. Indeed, Kant's theistic outlook is acknowledged so
consistently throughout his writings that I would call into question even the
assumption that Kant ever seriously defended a deistic position as such.
Kant's rejection of deism is, admittedly, usually expressed in very
cautious terms--and understandably so, given the dominance of deism in the
philosophical climate of his day. Nevertheless, some texts reveal his
dissatisfaction with deism so clearly that all debate on this question ought to
be a thing of the past. In a 1789 letter to Jacobi, for instance, Kant
approves of his friend's refutation of 'the syncretism of Spinozism and the
deism of Herder's God' [KPC 158]. And in PFM 356-7, Kant says that if
theism and anthropomorphism are both abandoned, then 'nothing [would]
remain but deism, of which nothing can come, which is of no value and
which cannot serve as any foundation to religion or morals.'
17. It should be noted, however, that Kant reveals his dissatisfaction with
the theoretical implications philosophers often impute to theism, by warning
in CJ 395 that even theism 'is absolutely incapable of authorizing us to
make any objective assertion.'