Immanuel Kant (1724–1804)
Immanuel Kant’s stature in the history of Western philosophy is almost unparalleled, and his sophisticated, complex works have impacted us in profound ways we barely recognize today.
Because his system of philosophy led to the secularization of society, Kant has often been considered a modern archenemy of Christianity. Writing firmly in the Reformed tradition, philosophy professor Shao Kai Tseng offers a reinterpretation and critical appreciation of his thought that shows his significance in art, science, and modern conceptions of human dignity, gives an overview of his philosophy, and closes with a critique from an orthodox Reformed perspective.
“Immanuel Kant is unquestionably one of the most significant and influential figures in the history of philosophy. Summarizing and assessing his thought in a concise, accessible, and responsible fashion is no easy task, yet Alex Tseng has accomplished it. While offering his own distinctively Reformed critique of Kant’s philosophical system, Tseng exemplifies scholarly integrity by challenging and correcting what he takes to be some interpretive missteps by earlier Reformed writers. The result is a fresh and thought-provoking introduction to a titan of Western philosophy.”
—James N. Anderson, Carl W. McMurray Professor of Theology and Philosophy, Reformed Theological Seminary, Charlotte
“Immanuel Kant’s influence reaches far beyond that of nineteenth-century theologians, and contemporary scholars are still considering the ways in which religion and philosophy interact in his approach. In this excellent introduction to Kant’s work, Alex Tseng illuminates Kant’s ideas and contributions with pertinent and broad-ranging philosophical and religious back-ground, particularly on how Kant influenced theology as science. Even readers familiar with Kant will benefit from this fine neo-Calvinist response to one of the greatest and most influential figures in Western philosophy.”
—Annette G. Aubert, Lecturer and Visiting Scholar of Historical Theology and Church History, Westminster Theological Seminary
“This short book packs a punch. In it, Tseng moves from historical exegesis to constructive theologizing, all the while in an accessible style, and with a clear commitment to his own branch of the Reformed tradition. For Reformed Christians looking both for a primer on Kant and for a guide to how their tradition might equip them to interact with him, this book makes a very useful contribution.”
—James Eglinton, Meldrum Senior Lecturer in Reformed Theology, University of Edinburgh
“Kant’s complex and wide-ranging philosophy shaped virtually every aspect of the modern world, and our understanding of theology and religion is no exception. Frequently hailed as the inspiration for naturalistic materialism, humanistic determinism, and much of what most Christians find wrong with the modern world, Kant is often portrayed as an enemy of the faith.
Alex Tseng, taking his cue from recent developments in Kant interpretation, courageously exposes numerous myths about Kant that have led Christian philosophers in general and Reformed theologians in particular to reject Kant prematurely. Immanuel Kant offers a comprehensive yet readily accessible summary and balanced assessment of the background, key features, and primary influences of Kant’s philosophy. Tseng exhibits such a refreshingly direct and straightforward style that, even if one occasionally disagrees with his conclusions, the reader is left in awe of the author’s erudite scholarship and fair-minded reasoning.
If Kant fails to provide a philosophy that Christians can fully and confidently embrace, what is the precise nature of his failure? This book offers Christians a golden opportunity to reconsider this challenging question. Just twenty-five years ago, the appearance of such a book would have been unthinkable!”
—Stephen R. Palmquist, Professor, Department of Religion and Philosophy, Hong Kong Baptist University
“Everything from Shao Kai Tseng is worth reading. Treating Kant neither as Christianity’s bogeyman nor as its inevitable handmaiden, and in line with recent scholarship on Kant’s transcendental idealism, Tseng offers a fruitful yet self-critical neo-Calvinistic engagement with the major features of Kant’s philosophy. Unfailingly charitable and eminently readable.”
—Gray Sutanto, Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary, Washington, DC
Shao Kai (“Alex”) Tseng (MDiv, Regent College; ThM, Princeton Theological Seminary; MSt, DPhil, University of Oxford) is research professor in the philosophy department of Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. He is the author of Karl Barth’s Infralapsarian Theology and Barth’s Ontology of Sin and Grace, as well as books on Hegel, Kant, and Barth in the Great Thinkers series, and a contributor to the Oxford Handbook of Nineteenth-Century Christian Thought.