In this module we will focus on the relation between faith and reason. Philosophy at the turn of the 19th Century was characterised by a series of public debates that would have a lasting influence on how we understand philosophy, religion, and their relation. Some argued that the emphasis on reason typical of the Enlightenment entails fatalism, nihilism, and atheism, and sought to uphold the authority of faith over philosophical reflection. Others defended the centrality of reason and attempted to establish faith on a rational basis. This led to an examination of questions that touch on the nature of philosophy, religion, and human freedom: Can faith have authority over reason, and if so in what circumstances? Does morality need to be based in religion, or is morality autonomous? Is philosophy compatible with religion? What is the role of human freedom in context of these questions?
We begin with a look at Jacobi’s criticisms of Kantian philosophy and his defence of faith. We then turn to Kant’s response to Jacobi, his attempt to detach morality from religion, and his development of a rational faith. Finally, we examine Fichte’s defence of his philosophical project against charges of atheism, his attempt to forge a middle path between Jacobi and Kant, and his understanding of the relation between doubt, knowledge, and faith.