notes10 - Thepostulatesofpracticalreasonandthecategorical...

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The postulates of practical reason and the categorical imperative Kant terms immortality and the existence of God “postulates” in order to distinguish them from the “ideas” of the soul and of God that rationalist metaphysics had made objects of theoretical proofs. These “postulates of practical reason” are fundamental components in what Kant terms “moral faith.” The need for such moral faith arises in the context of our human efforts to sustain ourselves in consistent, life-long moral endeavor. The requirement of practical reason that we make the highest good the object of our will is crucial for sustaining us in this endeavor. Kant thinks that our efforts in that endeavor will falter, however, in the face of the predicament for our willing that the antinomy of practical reason poses for us. If we think that the highest good is impossible of attainment or that our actions have no bearing on its attainment, what basis do we then have for continuing our moral efforts? Kant's response to this predicament is to appeal to the unconditioned character of the moral demand, i.e., the categorical imperative, that we place upon ourselves in exercising our freedom. Since our reason demands that we will our actions solely on the basis of their rightness, and since we acknowledge that we can do what reason demands, i.e., that we are free, then we have a basis in reason for affirming the possibility of meeting reason's correlative demand regarding the highest good. We can make the achievement of the highest good the object of our willing, even if it remains obscure to us exactly how this will eventually come about. Thus the immortality and the God that are postulated as necessary for bringing about, in concert with our own moral endeavors, the
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highest good are both objects of “moral faith.” Kant is insistent that the affirmation of God and immortality that is made on the basis of moral faith does not make them objects of theoretical knowledge. They are objects of moral faith inasmuch as their
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This note was uploaded on 02/09/2009 for the course PHIL 102 taught by Professor Faulders during the Spring '09 term at Santa Barbara City.

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notes10 - Thepostulatesofpracticalreasonandthecategorical...

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