ʿAqīl المُصْطَفَوِي

ʿAqīl المُصْطَفَوِي

15-11-2022

15:48

This is a profound point because this is exactly the point that Taha Abderrahmane makes in critiquing Kant and Hume in his work on ethics, Su'āl al-Akhlāq.

In the first chapter of the book, Taha Abderrahmane address a very fundamental question: what is the relationship between religion and ethics? Kant provides an ethical theory that is representative of one answer: that ethics come first, and religion follows it after.

This is because from Kant’s entire ethical system, two theological postulates emerge from the pure practical reason: 1) the immortality of the soul, 2) the existence of God. Note that these two are merely postulates, which means that we must necessarily *assume* them only for…

practical purposes. In other words, these two ideas have reality *only* from a practical point of view. Thus, Kant is building his ethical system without needing to appeal to any concept of the Divine *actually* being real (whatever that means to Kant), to put it crudely.

Kant makes this very clear in the preface to the first edition of his work, ‘Religion within The Limits of Bare Reason’, in which he says: «…it has no need for the idea of some other being above him for him to know what his duty is, or the idea of an incentive other than the…

law itself for him to do his duty…Thus, morality itself has no need for religion because its needs are met entirely by pure practical reason»

However, Taha Abderrahmane argues that religion actually was the cradle of Kant’s non-religious ethic: «…where the reality of the non-religious ethics is that it is actually a disguised religious ethics». Taha argues that this is done by two methods: 1) Substitution (المبادلة)

Well-known terminologies and concepts in religious ethics is taken and replaced with esoteric terms and concepts in the ethical theory, though they both ultimately play the same role. For example, Kant replaces the concept of “faith” with “reason”, “God’s Will” is replaced…

with “human will”, “unrestricted goodness of God” replaced with “unrestricted goodness of the will”, “Divine Command” is replaced with “the categorical imperative”, “love of the Divine” is replaced with “respect for the law”, “God legislating for others” is replaced with…

“self-legislating humans”, “Divine blessings” replaced with “the highest good” and “heaven” replaced by the “Kingdom of Ends”, etc. You will see this more clearly when you understand Kant’s ethical system. 2) Analogical comparison (المقايسة) The religious ethical rules are…

taken and made to be similar in non-religious ethical rules, with any notion of the Divine simply replaced with secular notions. For example, in religion, ethics is established from a revealed Divine source and in Kantianism, ethics is established from pure intellect.

In religion, God is the legislator of rules, and in Kantianism, humans take on this role of legislator instead. In religion, God is transcendent from any reason or motive in His Laws and in Kantianism, humans must also transcend their inclinations and aims in his laws….

In religion, God’s Law is all-encompassing for all humans and in Kantianism, the categorical imperative must also apply to every human being. In religion, moral worth comes from obeying Divine Laws and in Kantianism, moral worth comes from obeying human laws from duty, etc etc.

Therefore, Taha asserts that these similarities, even though they *could* be coincidental, the symmetry and uniformity between religious ethics and Kantianism gives us reason to think that Kant (whether deliberately or not) modelled his theory from religion. This is not too…

outlandish because Kant himself was a Christian, although a very scientific one, since he was deeply influenced by the scientific revolution and presented his thought as a ‘Copernican revolution’ in philosophy, much like how Copernicus revolutionized science through heliocentrism

Taha’s critique of Hume’s “is-ought principle” is a bit more complicated, but it’s worth looking into in his book, and you can really see Taha’s genius shine through there. Wallāhu aʾlam. Correct me if I’m wrong.


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