Rainer Enskat, Martin Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg

Religion trotz Aufklärung?
Retraktationen einer ungelösten Aufgabe der Philosophie

In this paper it is shown that and why the question whether religion is possible and even necessary despite enlightenment can be answered positively. It is argued that a conception of enlightened religion can be worked out if we follow lines of argument which were developed mainly by two philosophers. The first – and for twothousand years the most important – was Plato with the line of argument developed in his early dialogue Euthyphro. The core of his argument is criterological: If we want to find out whether any human behaviour pleases God (or the Gods) we must first develop – all by ourselves and without any recourse to theological sources – a criterion for judging each human behaviour as good or as not good. According to this conception all and only that human behaviour pleases God (or the Gods) which is – according to our best possible criterion – good. Plato´s preliminary criteriological conception of religion is worked out congenially and systematically not earlier than by Kant in some articles and manuscripts during the time following the publication of his famous doctrine of the postulates of the existence of God and the immortality of the soul. It can be shown that this doctrine is inconsistent with his non-consequentialistic, especially non-utilitaristic ethics. In his later philosophy of religion he develops – completing the moral criterion for judging human behaviour (the categorical imperative from § 7 of the Critique of Practical Reason) by a juridical and a political, especially republicanistic criterion – a conception of the moral and the juridical character of human behaviour which is substantially atheistic, though it argues plausibly that human behaviour fullfilling these criteria is insofar – but only insofar – godlike. For Kant the enlightened religion is an attitude of man manifesting itself in those and only those forms of behaviour which show their godlike character in being morally and juridically good according to these criteria.

For footnotes see pdf.
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