Kant’s Religion and the Reflective Judgment

In Margit Ruffing, Claudio La Rocca, Alfredo Ferrarin & Stefano Bacin (eds.), Kant Und Die Philosophie in Weltbürgerlicher Absicht: Akten des Xi. Kant-Kongresses 2010. De Gruyter. pp. 883-898 (2013)
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Kant's “Religion Within the Boundaries of Mere Reason” seems an odd element in Kant's oeuvre. Parts of it seem like scholastic theology or an arbitrary effort to reconcile the Kantian philosophical system with the doctrines of Christianity1. One of the most troubling notions is that of radical evil. Not only is the motivation for introducing the notion unclear, it is also difficult to grasp the line of argumentation, and furthermore accept its conclusion that there must be an innate propensity for evil in human nature. The vague introduction of the concept of grace exacerbates the puzzlement even further. Nevertheless, I claim that the notions of radical evil and grace form a significant addition to Kant's conception of moral life lacking in his earlier works in ethics, Groundwork to the Metaphysic of Morals and the Critique of Practical Reason. I contend that the depiction of human moral life is not exhausted by the consciousness of duty and the endless pursuit toward virtue. Moral life is characterized also by the ongoing introspection of character accompanied by the hope for moral transformation as manifested by the notions of radical evil and grace.
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