How does Kant view the teachings of Jesus?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Regarding the teachings of Jesus, Kant discounted any historical or literal authenticity to Jesus' teachings because, for Kant, moral reason was the determiner of moral essentiality. Jesus' miraculous nature was therefore senseless and morally unessential since the essential and sensible came directly from Kant's (humanity's) own moral reasoning. In addition, since reality cannot, according to Kant, be known for what it truly is but can only be known for what it is to the person perceiving it, truth is therefore unknowable and Jesus' miraculous nature is unverifiable.

Jesus' teachings received different treatment at Kant's hands. Despite Jesus' claims to a miraculous nature and to a divine essence (e.g., "the Father and I are one"), Kant accepted Jesus' teachings as representing an ideal of moral perfection. Regardless of being unable to (and disinterested in attempting to) verify Jesus' nature, Kant considered Jesus as an archetype symbolizing humankind's ability to resist that which opposes moral reason and is therefore morally unessential, also called that which is "evil." Kant considered the Jesus archetype as symbolic of humankind's ability to approach virtuous moral essentialness, or moral perfection.