On Problem Consciousness and Basic Concepts of Kant’s Religious Philosophy: A Response to Xie Wenyu

Social Sciences in China Review

No.3, 2019


On Problem Consciousness and Basic Concepts of Kant’s Religious Philosophy: A Response to Xie Wenyu (Abstract)


Deng Xiaomang


In “Problem Consciousness and Basic Concepts of Kant’s Religious Philosophy,” Xie Wenyu shared his comments on my article “On Kantism’s Salvation to Confucian Ethics.” First, he thought I lacked a “problem consciousness” about the “tension” between Kant’s subjective reason and grace. Second, he argued that I neglected Kant’s “right interpretation” of natural (angeboren) and nature (Natur) that distinguished from their general meaning, so that I “misunderstood” Kant’s human nature (Natur). Third, I didn’t realize that Kant’s initial “original endowment” (Anlage) in time was the “true starting point” for human existence, such that I mistakenly replaced the original endowment with the essence of human freedom, which should have been in “second place,” and Mr. Xie put forward Kants theory of human nature as good in nature and radically evil based on his own understanding. Here follow my responses: First, the socalled tension mentioned above in Kants philosophy does not exist. If it refers to the tension in the German ideology that Kant faced at the time, I have already had this “problem consciousness” twenty years ago. Second, Kant’s transcendental understanding of “nature” only aims at human beings’ ability to choose ethical good and evil, it does not refer to human nature being only transcendental, so it is Mr. Xie himself who misunderstood. Third, in Kant’s philosophy, both “original endowment” and “nature” have a double meaning of experience and transcendence. Mr. Xie doesn’t see this point and is therefore unable to understand the basis of Kant’s free will in transcendence, and the true meaning of “radical evil” in human nature. Finally, in terms of the two paragraphs cited from Kant’s text, which are the most important basis for Mr. Xie’s article, I compared the original German text, an English translation, and Li Qiuling’s Chinese translation, and I analyzed a series of serious mistranslations by Mr. Xie, identifying the translative causes of his misinterpretation of Kant.