Reflections on the Argument for the Existence of God in Pre-Critical Period of Kant's Thought

Document Type : Original Research


1 Ph.D student of philosophy of religion, Department of philosophy of religion, Faculty of theology and Islamic teachings, University of Tehran , Tehran, Iran

2 Associate professor at the department of philosophy of religion, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

3 Professor at the department of Philosophy, Faculty of literature and humanity, University of Tehran.Tehran.Iran

4 Professor at the department of kalam and Islamic philosophy, Faculty of theology and Islamic teachings, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran


According to the critical Kant, the idea of God is a transcendental idea of pure reason, i.e., theoretical reason cannot, after considering its limitations, make an argument against or for it. In the pre-critical period, however, in a treatise called "The Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God" he tried to prove the existence of God by means of the theoretical reason. The significance of this treatise is that, on the one hand, contrary to what the critical Kant believes about the limits of human reason, he endeavors to theoretically prove the existence of God, and on the other hand, contrary to the Wolfian-Leibnizian tradition, he proposes a natural-theological argument instead of a cosmological argument. Concentrating on the concept of possibility in formulation of an ontological argument, he criticizes the former formulations, especially Descartes’, and presents a new version of it. In this paper, we intend to first explain Kant's argumentative reasoning for proving the existence of God based on "The Only Possible Argument in Support of a Demonstration of the Existence of God", and second, we try to show that the alleged conflict between the title of the book (only possible argument...) and its content (the acceptance of two natural-theological arguments and ontological argument), which led some of Kant scholars to believe that Kant is incoherent is false and comes from a mistake in translation of the German term ‘Beweisgrund’


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