Is Kantian Transcendental Idealism compatible with the scriptures?

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
However we answer that question shapes what we believe about God. Realism is the usual fallback Christian view. It makes the most sense of God's attributes and ideas in His mind. Idealism is dangerous (if not just wrong). Jonathan Edwards was an idealist of sorts and it played havoc upon many doctrines he held.

Our approach to the world should not be through schools of thought invented by men. Different philosophical systems may contain a degree of truth and insight which can be helpful in articulating human experience. However, once we adopt a specific system and use that as our guide then we are restricting ourselves to an extra-biblical (and taken as a whole usually anti-biblical) worldview. The early church theologians adopted concepts and phrases from the heathen philosophers because they were useful, but they adapted them to the Scriptural revelation.

What should shape our belief about God is Scripture. What should shape our understanding of the world is Scripture.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
No one disputes that. Does Scripture say that universals exist in the mind of God?

Why, then, do we have a thread titled "Is Kantian transcendental idealism compatible with the scriptures?". Who cares? Was Kant a Christian? Did he exhibit fruit of the new birth? If not why should we invest ourselves in whether his thought and writings are compatible with Scripture? What does Kant offer the Christian which cannot be found in Scripture or the writings of godly expositors of Scripture? We are living in the ruins of a civilisation torn down by the rejection of God and the embrace of man-centred philosophy.
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Why, then, do we have a thread titled "Is Kantian transcendental idealism compatible with the scriptures?".

Not my title. And as I've suggested, no, I don't think Kantian idealism is compatible with the Scriptures.

Who cares?

Everyone who has commented on this thread. For starters, J. Gresham Machen cared enough to convinced himself that Kant was wrong before he sought ordination.
Was Kant a Christian?

Probably not.
If not why should we invest ourselves in whether his thought and writings are compatible with Scripture?

He is the dominant figure of the modern age and if he is wrong, and he is, we should refute him.
What does Kant offer the Christian which cannot be found in Scripture or the writings of godly expositors of Scripture?

With the exception of James, I don't think anyone has argued that.
We are living in the ruins of a civilisation torn down by the rejection of God and the embrace of man-centred philosophy.
Okay
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
Not my title. And as I've suggested, no, I don't think Kantian idealism is compatible with the Scriptures.



Everyone who has commented on this thread. For starters, J. Gresham Machen cared enough to convinced himself that Kant was wrong before he sought ordination.


Probably not.


He is the dominant figure of the modern age and if he is wrong, and he is, we should refute him.


With the exception of James, I don't think anyone has argued that.

Okay

I know you think you're being very cleaver with the manner in which you're responding but if Christians today were more concerned with digging deeper into the Word and reading the writings of the old godly divines then we wouldn't be in the mess we are today. If you go looking for wisdom and intellectual fulfilment in the world you risk shipwreck upon the rocks. "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." 1 Cor. 3:19.
 

Thomas_Goodwin

Puritan Board Freshman
I know you think you're being very cleaver with the manner in which you're responding but if Christians today were more concerned with digging deeper into the Word and reading the writings of the old godly divines then we wouldn't be in the mess we are today. If you go looking for wisdom and intellectual fulfilment in the world you risk shipwreck upon the rocks. "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." 1 Cor. 3:19.
I am only reading Kant, as I specified, for entertainment. We shouldn't engage in quarrelsome or sharp rhetoric brother, I understand the concerns you have!
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
I know you think you're being very cleaver with the manner in which you're responding but if Christians today were more concerned with digging deeper into the Word and reading the writings of the old godly divines then we wouldn't be in the mess we are today. If you go looking for wisdom and intellectual fulfilment in the world you risk shipwreck upon the rocks. "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." 1 Cor. 3:19.

I don't think you are actually reading what I am saying. I think Kant is bad. I have offered pointers for those who are interested on how to refute him. I'm not sure what you think I am saying.

No doubt I could do more bible reading, but that does not address the issues raised. The Nicene Fathers had to wrestle with extra-biblical (i.e., philosophical) terms like motion, person, and nature. The Westminster divines used Aristotelian causality in chapter 5 of the Confession. No one escapes philosophy.
 

Schoolman

Puritan Board Freshman
Kant may have been bad. Nevertheless, and unlike Marx, he has much to teach us. And he even taught in a place informed by Reformed theology (before the heathen Soviets destroyed everything). Much of what he said is instructive and even exciting! But then there is the futility of human thought and the old story that my grandfather repeated to me about secular philosophy, of a man looking for a black hat in a room with no light…
 
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iainduguid

Puritan Board Sophomore
As someone not naturally inclined toward philosophy, I found this quote from G.K. Chesterton helpful:

"Men have always one of two things: either a complete and conscious philosophy or the unconscious acceptance of the broken bits of some incomplete and often discredited philosophy…Philosophy is merely thought that has been thought out. It is often a great bore. But man has no alternative, except between being influenced by thought that has been thought out and being influenced by thought that has not been thought out."

The ways in which people read and interpret the Bible (as well as the world around us) are always going to be influenced by philosophical trends. Some of these may be helpful; others less than helpful. However, to willfully oppose the idea that it might be helpful for at least some Christians to think about philosophical questions in favor of "just the Bible" is a bit naive.
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Senior
I do believe there is a potential pitfall with taking too high or respectful view of very confusing philosophical and intellectualized concepts.

I believe we can legitimize certain thought and/or perception that would otherwise be swiftly discarded by the Christian. How much do I really want to know about Kant before I reject him. Am I too lazy or stupid to want to challenge his thought or do I merely see the futility in the amount of time required to wrap my head around where he’s coming from.

I appreciate those that are willing to do that as long as an elitist niche is not being carved including a separation between the well schooled Christian that may identify with the secular intellectual elite more than their less learned brethren. Where does our passion lie at the end of the day?

God-diminishing philosophers are worthy of our concern and critique, not our admiration for being such great thinkers. Augustine is ultimately a great thinker because he brings it all back to God and keeps only the skeptics faithful thought that is consistent with their status as image bearers but is ultimately stunted and woefully incomplete.

A shout out to @RamistThomist who I perceive to be thoughtful, intelligent and well learned, and most of all very charitable and patient in discussions - always coming from a place of faithfulness in my estimation. I believe men like him have very good motives. That has been my experience. I don’t always understand where he’s coming from but this is a place where many very learned men and women gather and share their thoughts.

I don’t know how much philosophy one has to learn in seminary but it appears par for the course. I’ve always appreciated Dr. Phillip Cary who is Christian who teaches philosophy and writes on theology (while recognizing he is not Reformed). I also appreciate my own Pastor who is also no slouch in these areas.
 
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Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
"Men have always one of two things: either a complete and conscious philosophy or the unconscious acceptance of the broken bits of some incomplete and often discredited philosophy…Philosophy is merely thought that has been thought out. It is often a great bore. But man has no alternative, except between being influenced by thought that has been thought out and being influenced by thought that has not been thought out."
In other words, there is no neutrality, and there is no alternative but that of theonomy and autonomy.

:banana::worms:
 

A.Joseph

Puritan Board Senior
However we answer that question shapes what we believe about God. Realism is the usual fallback Christian view. It makes the most sense of God's attributes and ideas in His mind. Idealism is dangerous (if not just wrong).


Jonathan Edwards was an idealist of sorts and it played havoc upon many doctrines he held.
@RamistThomist , If you wouldn’t mind, could you expand on that last sentence regarding Edwards? Or provide a commentary link?


What’s an example of a theologian exercising the ideal or the spiritual in his interpretation of experience ? Thanks!



For my own benefit I’m quoting the following definitions:

“realism, in philosophy, the viewpoint which accords to things which are known or perceived an existence or nature which is independent of whether anyone is thinking about or perceiving them.”

“idealism, in philosophy, any view that stresses the central role of the ideal or the spiritual in the interpretation of experience.”
 
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RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
@RamistThomist , If you wouldn’t mind, could you expand on that last sentence regarding Edwards? Or provide a commentary link?

Read Edwards' treatises on Being and Mind. He comes very close to saying that the world only exists in the mind of God. It's not clear how the created order fits in with that. Then there is his discussion in On Original Sin where he seems to say that the world ceases to exist and is re-created every instant.
“idealism, in philosophy, any view that stresses the central role of the ideal or the spiritual in the interpretation of experience.”

That's not really what idealism means in philosophy. At its most basic level, idealism says you never know the world as it is, as given. You only know it as an object of your mind's reflection. Think of a "wall" between the object and your mind. That's why a few centuries later Kantians and idealists were subjectivists.
 
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RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
Regarding the danger of Kant: unless you already want to be convinced of German idealism (and who would want to?), I doubt there is much danger. Kant wasn't a great communicator and the ideas that he actually managed to communicate are contrary to common sense.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
In other words, there is no neutrality, and there is no alternative but that of theonomy and autonomy.

:banana::worms:
Fallacy: false dilemma
There's a reason the formal study of philosophy generally includes a course in logic.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
Fallacy: false dilemma
There's a reason the formal study of philosophy generally includes a course in logic.
Well, I was joking. At the same time, there really is no neutrality—one is either for Christ, or against him (Matt. 12:30), and this has to do with the mind as much as the heart (2 Cor. 10:5). There is no false dilemma there. It’s a real and harrowing predicament of our own making. But that’s another thread, I suppose.

BTW, I teach both philosophy and logic.
 

py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
In other words, there is no neutrality, and there is no alternative but that of theonomy and autonomy.

:banana::worms:
That's true, but it's not what the quote says. Theonomous/autonomous and examined/unconsidered are both dichotomies, but they aren't the same dichotomy.
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Well, I was joking. At the same time, there really is no neutrality—one is either for Christ, or against him (Matt. 12:30), and this has to do with the mind as much as the heart (2 Cor. 10:5). There is no false dilemma there. It’s a real and harrowing predicament of our own making. But that’s another thread, I suppose.

BTW, I teach both philosophy and logic.
We used to have a cool white flag emoji I'd be waving at this point.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
I don't think you are actually reading what I am saying. I think Kant is bad. I have offered pointers for those who are interested on how to refute him. I'm not sure what you think I am saying.

No doubt I could do more bible reading, but that does not address the issues raised. The Nicene Fathers had to wrestle with extra-biblical (i.e., philosophical) terms like motion, person, and nature. The Westminster divines used Aristotelian causality in chapter 5 of the Confession. No one escapes philosophy.

Sounds like we're on the same page :up:
 

RamistThomist

Puritanboard Clerk
I did some reviews and critiques of Kant.

It's interesting because in his ethics Kant cheats.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Why, then, do we have a thread titled "Is Kantian transcendental idealism compatible with the scriptures?". Who cares? Was Kant a Christian? Did he exhibit fruit of the new birth? If not why should we invest ourselves in whether his thought and writings are compatible with Scripture? What does Kant offer the Christian which cannot be found in Scripture or the writings of godly expositors of Scripture? We are living in the ruins of a civilisation torn down by the rejection of God and the embrace of man-centred philosophy.
Are we limited to scripture or "godly expositors", if they are, for knowledge? Man centered philosophy is the only philosophy possible, being a reflection on things and people etc (by men and women). Obviously you're speaking in hyperbole but perhaps you could narrow down you're concern here to show just what your problem is. Is Dooyweerd acceptable?
Also common grace comes to mind, along with natural law (which we reflect on in our history). Civilization still stands, last time I checked we still have murder on the books.
He said (Kant) I believe he was a Christian if he "exhibited fruit of the new birth" I don't know (he lived 200 hundred years ago). If its man centered philosophy you're concerned with than we agree but the above comments ought to at least vindicate some philosophy.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
Not my title. And as I've suggested, no, I don't think Kantian idealism is compatible with the Scriptures.



Everyone who has commented on this thread. For starters, J. Gresham Machen cared enough to convinced himself that Kant was wrong before he sought ordination.


Probably not.


He is the dominant figure of the modern age and if he is wrong, and he is, we should refute him.


With the exception of James, I don't think anyone has argued that.

Okay
I'm joking for one. But I don't even like Kant he owes me owes me money from an illegal poker game last week. He was like "transcendental this and transcendental that", I said there's nothing transcendental about cash in hand. He still didn't pay.
But seriously I've never defended him (to my knowledge).
 
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