29 - M aterialism and atheism are complementary threats to...

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Materialism and atheism are complementary threats to morality, though not in such a fundamental way. If materialism is true, the soul is not immortal, and if atheism is true, there is no divine justice. Kant held that both immortality and a just proportion of happiness to virtue are components of the moral idea of the highest good. Thus under the assumption of materialism and/or atheism, the highest good cannot be realized and the object of morality is unattainable. Speculative reason can do no more than secure the logical possibility of freedom, immortality and God. There is no contradiction in any of the concepts, because they pertain to things in themselves, which are not subject to the conditions of experience. As the actions of an empirical subject, my actions are determined by causal laws, but as transcendental subject, they may be transcendentally free. As an object in time, I have a limited span of life, but as transcendental object I am not determined in time at all. God can never be met with in any experience, be invoked as a necessary condition for experience, or proved a priori to exist. But a most real being is at least minimally thinkable. In the case of freedom, "morality does not, indeed, require that freedom should be understood, but only that it should not contradict itself, and so should at least allow of being thought" (Bxxix). The transcendental ideas of God and immortality are relatively easy to accommodate on Kant's scheme, since their their objects (assuming they have objects) are transcendent. An immortal soul and a most real being are objects may in some unknown way be conditions of experience (of ourselves and of the world, respectively). But we need not be concerned to establish any connection between these objects and the objects of experience. On the other hand, the idea of freedom requires a connection to experience. The reason is
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This note was uploaded on 01/31/2011 for the course PHILOSOPHY 113 taught by Professor Gerogemattey during the Winter '10 term at UC Davis.

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29 - M aterialism and atheism are complementary threats to...

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