Although significant differences undoubtedly exist between Daoism and Kant’s philosophy, the two systems also have some noteworthy similarities. After calling attention to a few such parallels and sketching the outlines of Kant’s philosophy of religion, this article focuses on an often-neglected feature of the latter: the four guiding principles of what Kant calls an “invisible church” (universality, purity, freedom, and unchangeableness). Numerous passages from Lao Zi’s classic text, Dao-De-Jing, seem to uphold these same principles, thus suggesting that they can also be interpreted as core features of a Daoist philosophy of life. A crucial difference, however, is that members of a Daoist church would focus on contentment, whereas Kantian churches modeled on Christianity (the religious tradition Kant favored) would strive for perfection. The article therefore concludes by considering what a synthesis might look like, if a Kantian church were to be based on a Daoist interpretation of these four fundamental principles.
- Lao Zi
- comparative philosophy