Kant – Immortality of the Soul as a Postulate of Pure Practical Reason


Channel: The Partially Examined Life
Duration: 7:16
Description: This recording is a reading of Chapter II of the Critique of Practical Reason: Of the Dialectic of Pure Reason in defining the Conception of the “Summum Bonum”. This section, Part 4, is entitled “The Immortality of the Soul as a Postulate of Pure Practical Reason”.
In it you find Kant’s most explicit argument in favor of a belief in the soul’s immortality, although note that it is merely postulated as a subjective moral necessity, and not intended as an objective proof as such. Relevant quote:
“The realization of the summum bonum in the world is the necessary object of a will determinable by the moral law. But in this will the perfect accordance of the mind with the moral law is the supreme condition of the summum bonum.”
“This then must be possible, as well as its object, since it is contained in the command to promote the latter. Now, the perfect accordance of the will with the moral law is holiness, a perfection of which no rational being of the sensible world is capable at any moment of his existence.”
“Since, nevertheless, it is required as practically necessary, it can only be found in a progress in infinitum towards that perfect accordance, and on the principles of pure practical reason it is necessary to assume such a practical progress as the real object of our will.”
Now, this endless progress is only possible on the supposition of an endless duration of the existence and personality of the same rational being (which is called the immortality of the soul).
The summum bonum, then, practically is only possible on the supposition of the immortality of the soul. Consequently this immortality, being inseparably connected with the moral law, is a postulate of pure practical reason. (By which I mean a theoretical proposition, not demonstrable as such, but which is an inseparable result of an unconditional a priori practical law).
Note: “Summum bonum” is Latin for “the highest good”. Read by Gesine for Librivox: http://librivox.org/critique-of-practical-reason-by-immanuel-kant
Published: June 8, 2011 8:47 pm

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