Reply to Wolfgang Ertl


CHRISTOPHER INSOLE | Kant and the Creation of Freedom. A Theological Problem | Oxford University Press, 2013 


By Christopher Insole

I consider myself privileged to have received this attentive, insightful, and appreciative treatment from Wolfgang Ertl. There is so much in Ertl’s piece that is rich, provocative, and worthy of extensive reflection. It will provide me with much food for thought in my future research. In this response, I want to just pick up on three main criticisms, which are as follows:

1. My focus on Thomas Aquinas occludes other potentially significant scholastic sources, such as Occam, Scotus and Luis de Molina.

2. I neglect an alternative conception of ‘concurrence’, which might be closer to Kant’s position.

3. It is not clear that ‘creation and mere conservationism’ (without concurrence) are compatible with the significant freedom that Kant desires. Therefore, my claim that Kant’s transcendental idealism preserves such freedom is debatable.

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David Sussman on Christopher Insole’s “Kant and the Creation of Freedom”


CHRISTOPHER INSOLE | Kant and the Creation of Freedom: A Theological Problem | Oxford University Press, 2013


By David Sussman

In the First Critique, Kant famously claimed that he was limiting knowledge to make room for faith. This might seem to be a bad deal for the theologian, insofar as Kant’s conception of faith is grounded in various moral needs that are themselves expressions of the requirements of pure practical reason. For Kant, revelation serves only to supply analogies and stories that might serve to make these moral requirements clearer or more compelling, but it does not properly add anything important to the content of faith. On this reading of Kant, theology is reduced to being little more than morality’s public relations department.

In Kant and the Creation of Freedom: A Theological Problem Christopher Insole offers a corrective to this familiar view of the role of theological concerns in Kant’s overall philosophy. Insole argues that at least from the 1750s, Kant’s thought was driven in part by a distinctive theological question—how to preserve a meaningful sense of human freedom given that human beings are creations of and dependent upon God.

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Wolfgang Ertl on Christopher Insole’s “Kant and the Creation of Freedom”


CHRISTOPHER INSOLE | Kant and the Creation of Freedom: A Theological Problem | Oxford University Press, 2013 


By Wolfgang Ertl

In the wake of Mendelssohn’s infamous dictum, Kant is very often described as “all crushing” with regard to traditional metaphysics, in particular with regard to its theological dimension. As far as Kant’s own positive claims about God are concerned, Schopenhauer, in his Kritik der Kantischen Philosophie, argued that Kant, “when tearing down old errors and knowing the danger of the matter, only tried to temporarily push in a couple of weak support pillars through moral theology so that the collapse would not hit him and he would win time to move away” (1992:684ff.; trans. mine). With remarkable accuracy Schopenhauer’s bon mot sums up what actually happened in large parts of the reception history of Kant’s thought. While this is true mainly for philosophy, Kant’s thought was a huge challenge for theology which intersects with philosophy in the field of natural theology—a constellation similar to the case of the doctrine of practical natural law, which has traditionally been covered by jurisprudence as well.

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Ronald Green on Stephen Palmquist’s “Comprehensive Commentary on Kant’s «Religion»”


STEPHEN PALMQUIST | Comprehensive Commentary on Kant’s Religion within the Bounds of Bare Reason | Wiley-Blackwell 2015 


By Ronald M. Green

Stephen Palmquist’s Comprehensive Commentary on Kant’s Religion within the Bounds of Bare Reason is a rich and erudite work of scholarship. Above all, it displays intellectual generosity in its effort to try to understand what Kant was trying to say in this his culminating work of his moral and religious philosophy. If I sometimes disagree with Palmquist or criticise his interpretation in what follows, this should not obscure the fact that I have learned a vast amount from Palmquist’s remarkable book. My focus will be on Kant’s treatment of radical evil in the First Piece or First Part of the Religion. I would like to suggest that while Palmquist offers a way of elucidating and validating Kant’s argument for the human universality of radical evil, his argument is not as incisive as it might be and may even be erroneous.

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