Front Page Titles (by Subject) § 87.: Of the moral proof of the Being of God - The Critique of Judgement
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§ 87.: Of the moral proof of the Being of God - Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Judgement 
Kant’s Critique of Judgement, translated with Introduction and Notes by J.H. Bernard (2nd ed. revised) (London: Macmillan, 1914).
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Of the moral proof of the Being of God
There is a physical Teleology, which gives sufficient ground of proof to our theoretical reflective Judgement to assume the being of an intelligent World-Cause. But we find also in ourselves and still more in the concept of a rational being in general endowed with freedom (of his causality) a moral Teleology. However, as the purposive reference, together with its law, is determined a priori in ourselves and therefore can be cognised as necessary, this internal conformity to law requires no intelligent cause external to us; any more than we need look to a highest Understanding as the source of the purposiveness (for every possible exercise of art) that we find in the geometrical properties of figures. But this moral Teleology concerns us as beings of the world, and therefore as beings bound up with other things in the world; upon which latter, whether as purposes or as objects in respect of which we ourselves are final purpose, the same moral laws require us to pass judgement. This moral Teleology, then, has to do with the reference of our own causality to purposes and even to a final purpose that we must aim at in the world, as well as with the reciprocal reference of the world to that moral purpose, and the external possibility of its accomplishment (to which no physical Teleology can lead us). Hence the question necessarily arises, whether it compels our rational judgement to go beyond the world and seek an intelligent supreme principle for that reference of nature to the moral in us; in order to represent nature as purposive even in reference to our inner moral legislation and its possible accomplishment. There is therefore certainly a moral Teleology, which is connected on the one hand with the nomothetic of freedom and on the other with that of nature; just as necessarily as civil legislation is connected with the question where the executive authority is to be sought, and in general in every case [with the question] wherein Reason is to furnish a principle of the actuality of a certain regular order of things only possible according to Ideas.— We shall first set forth the progress of Reason from that moral Teleology and its reference to physical, to Theology; and then make some observations upon the possibility and the validity of this way of reasoning.
If we assume the being of certain things (or even only certain forms of things) to be contingent and so to be possible only through something else which is their cause, we may seek for the unconditioned ground of this causality of the supreme (and so of the conditioned) either in the physical or the teleological order (either according to the nexus effectivus or the nexus finalis). That is, we may either ask, what is the supreme productive cause of these things; or what is their supreme (absolutely unconditioned) purpose, i.e. the final purpose of that cause in its production of this or all its products generally? In the second case it is plainly presupposed that this cause is capable of representing purposes to itself, and consequently is an intelligent Being; at least it must be thought as acting in accordance with the laws of such a being.
If we follow the latter order, it is a Fundamental Proposition, to which even the commonest human Reason is compelled to give immediate assent, that if there is to be in general a final purpose furnished a priori by Reason, this can be no other than man (every rational being of the world) under moral laws.1 For (and so every one judges) if the world consisted of mere lifeless, or even in part of living but irrational, beings, its existence would have no worth because in it there would be no being who would have the least concept of what worth is. Again, if there were intelligent beings, whose Reason were only able to place the worth of the existence of things in the relation of nature to themselves (their well-being), but not to furnish of itself an original worth (in freedom), then there would certainly be (relative) purposes in the world, but no (absolute) final purpose, because the existence of such rational beings would be always purposeless. But the moral laws have this peculiar characteristic that they prescribe to Reason something as a purpose without any condition, and consequently exactly as the concept of a final purpose requires. The existence of a Reason that can be for itself the supreme law in the purposive reference, in other words the existence of rational beings under moral laws, can therefore alone be thought as the final purpose of the being of a world. If on the contrary this be not so, there would be either no purpose at all in the cause of its being, or there would be purposes, but no final purpose.
The moral law as the formal rational condition of the use of our freedom obliges us by itself alone, without depending on any purpose as material condition; but it nevertheless determines for us, and indeed a priori, a final purpose towards which it obliges us to strive; and this purpose is the highest good in the world possible through freedom.
The subjective condition under which man (and, according to all our concepts, every rational finite being) can set a final purpose before himself under the above law is happiness. Consequently, the highest physical good possible in the world, to be furthered as a final purpose as far as in us lies, is happiness, under the objective condition of the harmony of man with the law of morality as worthiness to be happy.
But it is impossible for us in accordance with all our rational faculties to represent these two requirements of the final purpose proposed to us by the moral law, as connected by merely natural causes, and yet as conformable to the Idea of that final purpose. Hence the concept of the practical necessity of such a purpose through the application of our powers does not harmonise with the theoretical concept of the physical possibility of working it out, if we connect with our freedom no other causality (as a means) than that of nature.
Consequently, we must assume a moral World-Cause (an Author of the world), in order to set before ourselves a final purpose consistently with the moral law; and in so far as the latter is necessary, so far (i.e. in the same degree and on the same ground) the former also must be necessarily assumed; i.e. we must admit that there is a God.1
This proof, to which we can easily give the form of logical precision, does not say: it is as necessary to assume the Being of God as to recognise the validity of the moral law; and consequently he who cannot convince himself of the first, can judge himself free from the obligations of the second. No! there must in such case only be given up the aiming at the final purpose in the world, to be brought about by the pursuit of the second (viz. a happiness of rational beings in harmony with the pursuit of moral laws, regarded as the highest good). Every rational being would yet have to cognise himself as straitly bound by the precepts of morality, for its laws are formal and command unconditionally without respect to purposes (as the matter of volition). But the one requisite of the final purpose, as practical Reason prescribes it to beings of the world, is an irresistible purpose imposed on them by their nature (as finite beings), which Reason wishes to know as subject only to the moral law as inviolable condition, or even as universally set up in accordance with it. Thus Reason takes for final purpose the furthering of happiness in harmony with morality. To further this so far as is in our power (i.e. in respect of happiness) is commanded us by the moral law; be the issue of this endeavour what it may. The fulfilling of duty consists in the form of the earnest will, not in the intermediate causes of success.
Suppose then that partly through the weakness of all the speculative arguments so highly extolled, and partly through many irregularities in nature and the world of sense which come before him, a man is persuaded of the proposition, There is no God; he would nevertheless be contemptible in his own eyes if on that account he were to imagine the laws of duty as empty, invalid and inobligatory, and wished to resolve to transgress them boldly. Such an one, even if he could be convinced in the sequel of that which he had doubted at the first, would always be contemptible while having such a disposition, although he should fulfil his duty as regards its [external] effect as punctiliously as could be desired, for [he would be acting] from fear or from the aim at recompense, without the sentiment of reverence for duty. If, conversely, as a believer [in God] he performs his duty according to his conscience, uprightly and disinterestedly, and nevertheless believes that he is free from all moral obligation so soon as he is convinced that there is no God, this could accord but badly with an inner moral disposition.
We may then suppose the case of a righteous man [e.g. Spinoza],1 who holds himself firmly persuaded that there is no God, and also (because in respect of the Object of morality a similar consequence results) no future life; how is he to judge of his own inner purposive destination, by means of the moral law, which he reveres in practice? He desires no advantage to himself from following it, either in this or another world; he wishes, rather, disinterestedly to establish the good to which that holy law directs all his powers. But his effort is bounded; and from nature, although he may expect here and there a contingent accordance, he can never expect a regular harmony agreeing according to constant rules (such as his maxims are and must be, internally), with the purpose that he yet feels himself obliged and impelled to accomplish. Deceit, violence, and envy will always surround him, although he himself be honest, peaceable, and kindly; and the righteous men with whom he meets will, notwithstanding all their worthiness of happiness, be yet subjected by nature which regards not this, to all the evils of want, disease, and untimely death, just like the beasts of the earth. So it will be until one wide grave engulfs them together (honest or not, it makes no difference), and throws them back—who were able to believe themselves the final purpose of creation—into the abyss of the purposeless chaos of matter from which they were drawn.— The purpose, then, which this well-intentioned person had and ought to have before him in his pursuit of moral laws, he must certainly give up as impossible. Or else, if he wishes to remain dependent upon the call of his moral internal destination, and not to weaken the respect with which the moral law immediately inspires him, by assuming the nothingness of the single, ideal, final purpose adequate to its high demand (which cannot be brought about without a violation of moral sentiment), he must, as he well can—since there is at least no contradiction from a practical point of view in forming a concept of the possibility of a morally prescribed final purpose—assume the being of a moral author of the world, that is, a God.
[1 ]I say deliberately under moral laws. It is not man in accordance with moral laws, i.e. a being who behaves himself in conformity with them, who is the final purpose of creation. For by using the latter expression we should be asserting more than we know; viz. that it is in the power of an Author of the world to cause man always to behave himself in accordance with moral laws. But this presupposes a concept of freedom and of nature (of which latter we can only think an external author), which would imply an insight into the supersensible substrate of nature and its identity with that which causality through freedom makes possible in the world. And this far surpasses the insight of our Reason. Only of man under moral laws can we say, without transgressing the limits of our insight: his being constitutes the final purpose of the world. This harmonises completely with the judgement of human Reason reflecting morally upon the course of the world. We believe that we perceive in the case of the wicked the traces of a wise purposive reference, if we only see that the wanton criminal does not die before he has undergone the deserved punishment of his misdeeds. According to our concepts of free causality, our good or bad behaviour depends on ourselves; we regard it the highest wisdom in the government of the world to ordain for the first, opportunity, and for both, their consequence, in accordance with moral laws. In the latter properly consists the glory of God, which is hence not unsuitably described by theologians as the ultimate purpose of creation.— It is further to be remarked that when we use the word creation, we understand nothing more than we have said here, viz. the cause of the being of the world or of the things in it (substances). This is what the concept properly belonging to this word involves (actuatio substantiae est creatio); and consequently there is not implied in it the supposition of a freely working, and therefore intelligent, cause (whose being we first of all want to prove).
[1 ][Note added in Second Edition.] This moral argument does not supply any objectively-valid proof of the Being of God; it does not prove to the sceptic that there is a God, but proves that if he wishes to think in a way consonant with morality, he must admit the assumption of this proposition under the maxims of his practical Reason.— We should therefore not say: it is necessary for morals [Sittlichkeit], to assume the happiness of all rational beings of the world in proportion to their morality [Moralität]; but rather, this is necessitated by morality. Accordingly, this is a subjective argument sufficient for moral beings.
[1 ][Second Edition.]