Thursday, December 12, 2019

Immanuel Kant: On The Proof of God’s Existence

In  Critique of Pure Reason, in Chapter 3, “The Idealism of Pure Reason,” Kant conducts an analysis of the traditional arguments for the existence of god. He begins by dividing the traditional arguments into three categories: the cosmological, the ontological, and the physico-theological. The arguments which precede from contingent facts, and from a question about the nature of a thing or process, are seen by Kant as the cosmological . This type of argument entails that a contingent fact can be true only if a series of causes commence with a first cause or unmoved mover—an example of the “first cause” argument is the one postulated by Thomas Aquinas. In the second type of argument, the ontological, the idea is to free one's position from contingent premises by taking the view that the proof of god’s existence is subsumed in the concept of god. In the category of physico-theological argument, Kant includes all arguments that proceed from the idea of “design”—some good or perfection in nature is identified and the argument is made that the perfection is by itself a proof of god. According to Kant, the argument from design (the physico-theological) is not only to human reason, it also encourages a study of nature and, therefore, is deserving of being  mentioned with respect. It is noteworthy, however, that Kant has dedicated three of the seven sections in Chapter 3 to showing the impossibility of the cosmological, ontological, and physico-theological arguments.

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