How is Religious Experience Possible? On the (Quasi-Transcendental) Mode of Argument in Kant’s Religion

Kantian Review 27 (1):81-89 (2022)
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Kant’s general mode of argument in Religion within the Bounds of Bare Reason, especially his defence of human nature’s propensity to evil, is a matter of considerable controversy: while some interpret his argument as strictly a priori, others interpret it as anthropological. In dialogue with Allen Wood’s recent work, I defend my earlier claim that Religion employs a quasi-transcendental mode of argument, focused on the possibility of a specific type of experience, not experience in general. In Religion, Kant portrays religious experience as possible only for beings with a good predisposition and a propensity to evil. Kant’s theory of the archetype and his theory of symbolism illustrate the same mode of argument. Taking Religion as a sequel to the third Critique more than the second, my perspectival interpretation makes room for a robust view of unsociable sociability without the absurd deception of regarding it as the source of human evil.



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Stephen R. Palmquist
Hong Kong Baptist University

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