(A6) Kantian and Post-Kantian Normativity in Intercultural Human Rights Discourse

Project A6 “Kantian and Post-Kantian Normativity in Intercultural Human Rights Discourse” centres on Immanuel Kant’s ethics, which conceives of man as an end in itself of autonomous morality and, consequently, as a being of inalienable dignity. Still considered to be one of the most conclusive substantiation of universally valid human rights, the Kantian philosophy of freedom involves an epochal redefinition of Christian religion which in critical philosophy is consistently correlated with the field of practical reason: The religion of reason – namely, the postulate of God and the rational belief in freedom and in the immortality of the soul, the practical truth of which reveals itself to man by the sheer action of morality − is to present the autonomous subjects a horizon of hope which alone is capable of saving their moral conduct from the suspicion of absurdity of a truth foiling any moral endeavour. In Kant’s tradition, the representatives of classical German philosophy – being the better theologians, according to their own self-image – continued the Kantian transformation programme, with far-reaching moral philosophical and religious philosophical implications. From the point of view of philosophical history, the end of the idealistic paradigm, on the one hand, left behind a vacuum which facilitated the triumph of naturalism since the mid-19th century. On the other hand, both the moral and religious philosophically significant thought potentials as provided by the debates taking place between 1781, when Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason was published, and 1831-1832, when Hegel and Goethe died, are still barely maxed out.

The key assumption of the project is that a metaphysics of the humanum, such as it is presupposed by the notion of a general dignity of man and his right to cross-cultural universality, cannot dispense with these idealistic thought resources. At the same time, with the programme of an enlightenend Christendom as founded by Kant, in which the absolute is conceived as a loving all-encompassing entity out of the self-conception of the autonomous moral subject, the age of German idealism offers an alternative to the classical theological paradigm of a world transcendental creator deity that is of utmost religious philosophical significance. In view of contemporary debates on the possibility of universal norms, on the one hand, and of the criticism of the three large monotheistic religions’ potential for violence, on the other hand, the a priori rationalism of autonomous self-determination as it conjoins with the idealistic programme of a “religion within the limits of pure reason” will be described comprehensively, and its systematic relevance for the substantiation of universal, i.e. cross-culturally and cross-religiously valid normativity will be recognised.