SHS Web Conf.
Volume 161, 202312th Kant-Readings International Conference “Kant and the Ethics of Enlightenment: Historical Roots and Contemporary Relevance”
|Number of page(s)||7|
|Section||Kant and the History of Enlightenment Ethics|
|Published online||08 March 2023|
Kant and Spalding on a “righteous man” Spinoza
Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University), 6 Miklukho-Maklaya st., 117198 Moscow, Russia
* Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the controversial issues of the philosophy of Kant is the question of the role of postulates of practical reason. Their introduction into the practical philosophy of Kant is often criticised since they are regarded as heteronomic elements, violating the autonomy of the will. In the first Critique the heteronomy of these foundations seems to appear more distinctly. By contrast, the third Critique is often regarded as the point where Kant’s ethics finally reaches its maturity. Here Kant finally comes to a formulation of the superfluity of religion for morality. An important passage on which the apologists of such a view rely is the example of a “righteous man (Spinoza [...])” (KU, AA 05: 452) who reveres the moral law but rejects the existence of God. Quite often attention is paid only to the beginning of this fragment. But at the end Kant comes to the conclusion that, although morality as such does not need religion, morality inevitably leads to religion. This passage is also interesting for another reason. We see in it a direct parallel with a text of J.J. Spalding, who considers the same example of an atheist-minded person (Spinoza). And the conclusion is essentially identical to that of Kant. The moral law commands regardless of man’s faith in God. Thus nothing prevents us from presenting a righteous atheist. But in practice this does not occur, since a truly righteous person, in accordance with his inner mood, freely and naturally comes to the idea of God.
Key words: Kant / Spalding / moral / religion / God / atheist / Spinoza / autonomy / heteronomy
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2023
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