A Daoist model for a Kantian church

Stephen Richard Palmquist

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

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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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-89
Number of pages23
JournalComparative Philosophy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2013

User-Defined Keywords

  • Kant
  • Lao Zi
  • church
  • Dao-De-Jing
  • Daoism
  • comparative philosophy


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