The Impossibility of Kantian Immortality
MacIntosh (J.J.)
Source: Dialogue 19 - Issue 2 - June 1980, pp. 219-234
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. When we discuss Kant's views on immortality we are walking in the by-ways of Kantian exegesis. Kant's views on immortality are interesting in themselves, but even within the Kantian framework, they do not affect other topics of importance. It is true that Kant felt that the possibility of immortality was necessary for certain moral manoeuvres to be possible, but he thought that the existence of God was even more essential, so that particular battle is lost regardless.
  2. On the other hand, some at least of Kant's views are shared by other people, and if he is wrong, not just over points of detail, but in a thoroughgoing way, that might be worth pointing out, and not just as a matter of exegesis. And, I shall try to show, Kant is not only wrong, but necessarily wrong. Not only is his version of immortality impossible, but any version resembling his is also impossible.
  3. I shall discuss the topic under three main headings:
    1. first, I shall mention the views which led Kant to his doctrine of immortality;
    2. secondly, I shall try to bring out some of the important points which his doctrine involves; and,
    3. finally, I shall indulge briefly in what I hope will be the - by then - fairly superfluous task of showing why such a doctrine won't, after all do.

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