Return to Kant, Immanuel
Plato was more than a Platonist; despite his mysticism, he was also a pagan Greek. As such he exhibited a certain authentic respect for reason, a respect which was implicit in Greek philosophy no matter how explicitly irrational it became. The Kantian mysticism, however, suffers from no such pagan restraints. It flows forth triumphantly, sweeping the prostrate human mind before it. Since man can never escape the distorting agents inherent in the structure of his consciousness, says Kant, “things in themselves” are in principle unknowable. Reason is impotent to discover anything about reality; if it tries, it can only bog down in impenetrable contradictions. Logic is merely a subjective human device, devoid of reference to or basis in reality. Science, while useful as a means of ordering the data of the world of appearances, is limited to describing a surface world of man’s own creation and says nothing about things as they really are.
Must men then resign themselves to a total skepticism? No, says Kant, there is one means of piercing the barrier between man and existence. Since reason, logic, and science are denied access to reality, the door is now open for men to approach reality by a different, nonrational method. The door is now open to faith. Taking their cue from their needs, men can properly believe (for instance, in God and in an afterlife), even though they cannot prove the truth of their belief. . . . “I have,” writes Kant, “therefore found it necessary to deny knowledge, in order to make room for faith.”