Difficulty Still Awaits: Kant, Spinoza, and the Threat of Theological Determinism

Kant Studien 103 (2):163-187 (2012)
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: In a short and much-neglected passage in the second Critique, Kant discusses the threat posed to human freedom by theological determinism. In this paper we present an interpretation of Kant’s conception of and response to this threat. Regarding his conception, we argue that he addresses two versions of the threat: either God causes appearances directly or he does so indirectly by causing things in themselves which in turn cause appearances. Kant’s response to the first version is that God cannot cause appearances directly because they depend essentially on the passive sensibility of finite beings. Kant’s response to the second version is that human beings are endowed with transcendental freedom, which blocks the causal transitivity that is presupposed by this version. We also contrast his position on this topic with Leibniz’s and Spinoza’s.



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Author Profiles

Kimberly Brewer
Cornell University (PhD)
Eric Watkins
University of California, San Diego

Citations of this work

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