Skepticism, Atheism, and Religious Faith (RS 3MM3)
Fall 2007

Recall that Text Preparation 2 was cancelled; members of Group 2 are free to submit this or any other remaining Text Preparation instead.

Assignment due in class on November 5* from members of Group 3

*Since part of the value of the text preparation assignment is that it will prepare you to be an active participant in tutorial and in class, it may only be submitted in class on the day it is due.  If you have to miss that day's class, please contact the instructor or TA to make alternate arrangements.

Please re-read

  • Abraham Joshua Heschel, Between God and Man, chaps. 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 21, 23, and 40 (selections date from 1951 to 1958) [coursepack / book on reserve / book available for purchase]

and please read:

  • Immanuel Kant, selection from Critique of Practical Reason (1788), trans. Mary Gregor [included in coursepack; or copy from Practical Philosophy on reserve: pp. 236-55]: Read closely Part III ("On the Primacy of Pure Practical Reason") and Part IV ("The Immortality of the Soul as a Postulate of Pure Practical Reason"); begin reading Part V ("The Existence of God as a Postulate of Pure Practical Reason").

and address the following two questions. Since this is your first reading of this text, and since we have not yet discussed it in class, you are not being asked to supply definitive answers but preliminary, thoughtful responses based on close attention to the text. Your answers may also include 1-2 important questions raised by your reading for further discussion.  

1. (2 well-written paragraphs)  Heschel writes, "From the fact that an end is adopted and cherished as a personal interest, it does not follow that the end was of psychological origin . . . . Thus, the fact of God becoming a human need does not vitiate the objectivity and validity of the idea of God." (144-45).  Based on your reading of the selections from Between God and Man, why does Heschel find it necessary to make this point?  What does this point tell us about his conception of God?

2. (2 well-written paragraphs)  What is "the highest good" for Kant?  Who is capable of attaining it?  What are the consequences for the immortality of the soul?

Optional Study Question. Note that Question 2 above relates to Section IV of the Kant reading.  Section III will be more difficult than Section IV to make sense of before we have discussed it in class.  But for those who would like a study question for Section III, it would be:  

In this section, Kant distinguishes "pure," "theoretical," "speculative" reason from "practical reason" (which relates to moral judgments).  How does he describe the relationship between these two types of reason?  

Feel free to substitute this question for Question 2 in your Text Preparation.


In preparing this assignment, please follow the citation guidelines in 

Your assignment should be printed double-spaced and with one-inch margins, using a 10-12-point font.  Please number and staple the pages you hand in. 

Please keep a copy of your assignment to refer to in our class discussion.



posted October 30, 2007