Freedom and Immortality

Freedom and Immortality

Freedom and Immortality

Freedom and Immortality

Excerpt

It may seem very surprising to some readers that these not obviously similar themes of freedom and immortality should be brought together in one brief book. But for others the title perhaps stirs memories of Immanuel Kant, for whom immortality, freedom, and the existence of God, were (as he called them) postulates of pure practical reason. By this he meant, very roughly, that while it would be impossible to justify belief in immortality, freedom and the existence of God, if we were restricted to that kind of experience which can justify the concepts and principles used in the natural sciences, yet on a wider view of experience these beliefs could nevertheless be given a reasonable justification. While, as he claimed to show in his Critique of Pure Reason, such theological beliefs could not be established by reference to sense-experience alone, their significance nevertheless begins to be seen when we broaden our view-point and consider those situations where we are aware of moral obligations. Belief in God, freedom and immortality, could, in one way or another, be grounded in morality, and to show this was part of Kant task in the Critique of Practical Reason. Though neither 'God' nor 'freedom' nor 'immortality', said Kant in effect, could ever be words native to scientific discourse, yet if we consider what is involved in responding to the claims of duty, then we begin to see how to use language about God or freedom or immortality, and the kind of justification which such language can be given.

Though I shall say little more about Kant, I am bold to think that his broad claim was reliable. What I hope to show is that these two topics of freedom and immortality are properly united because each makes a similar sort of claim about the universe; because each appeals to a similar kind of situation, a situation . . .

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