On Creating an Augustinian-Kantian Synthesis.

From Left to Right: Kant and Saint Augustine

I've found that on my journey in Christian apologetics that I've been drawing more on the work of Saint Augustine and Saint Anselm (over that of Saint Thomas Aquinas). This is not to say I've come to lose any respect for the Thomistic school of thought. Rather, it has inspired me its ability to synthesize the works of various thinkers (among them Aristotle, Augustine, Plato, Plotinus, Avicenna, Averroes and pseudo-Dionysius). In that inspiration, I decided to systematize the thought of Saint Augustine (as well as Saint Anselm, whom I regard as his most able successor) in the enlightenment philosophy of Immanuel Kant.

One might wonder why I might choose, out of all the enlightenment philosophers, Immanuel Kant. Both Immanuel Kant and Saint Augustine were respondents to an oncoming scepticism within their own time. For Saint Augustine, it was the academic sceptics that had taken over Plato’s academy. Likewise Kant was responding to the Humean scepticism that was invading from the British Isles. Can there be common cause, well I think there can be and wish to sketch out a series of posts. I would encourage my fellow Catholics to stick to Thomistic philosophy, since it is less susceptible to novelty.

What follows is an outline of where I agree with Kant, and where I agree with Saint Augustine (which is not to say they’re necessarily in contradiction). Over time I will edit the post and add links to newer posts.

Metaphysics

Agree with Kant

  • That there is a phenomenal/noumenal distinction
  • Science is based on our modeling of the phenomenal
  • We know of the mind only in the phenomenal sense, not in itself
  • Causality is an a priori truth about the world as a means of reasoning correctly, with some noumenal basis

Agree with Augustine

  • You can get from the phenomenal to the noumenon
  • That a realist model of universals that deal in “knowledge”, “goodness”, “power”, “justice”, “mercy”, “truth”, “loving”, “free”, and “existence” is not only tenable, but is also the case as they are instantiated in God’s character.
  • I reject the analytic/synthetic distinction
  • I accept a Compatibalist view on free will

Epistemology

Agree with Kant

  • The Phenomenal is the means to human knowledge
  • The mind contains necessary categories for human reasoning
  • Knowledge is internal

Agree with Augustine

  • The noumenal is the source and end of knowledge — in terms of apprehending the nature of the divine

Ethics

Agree with Kant

  • Ethics is a legitimate basis for the rationality of belief in God
  • The categorical imperative is the foundation for normative ethics

Agree with Augustine

Theology

Agree with Kant

  • Pretty much nowhere

Agree with Augustine

  • Pretty much everywhere
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