Beyond the Paralogisms: The Proofs of Immortality in the Lectures on Metaphysics

In Robert Clewis (ed.), Reading Kant's Lectures. De Gruyter. pp. 115-134 (2015)
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Considered in light of the reader’s expectation of a thoroughgoing criticism of the pretensions of the rational psychologist, and of the wealth of discussions available in the broader 18th century context, which includes a variety of proofs that do not explicitly turn on the identification of the soul as a simple substance, Kant’s discussion of immortality in the Paralogisms falls lamentably short. However, outside of the Paralogisms (and the published works generally), Kant had much more to say about the arguments for the soul’s immortality as he devoted considerable time to the topic throughout his career in his lectures on metaphysics. In fact, as I show in this paper, the student lecture notes prove to be an indispensable supplement to the treatment in the Paralogisms, not only for illuminating Kant’s criticism of the rational psychologist’s views on the immortality of the soul, but also in reconciling this criticism with Kant’s own positive claims regarding certain theoretical proofs of immortality.
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