Prometheus and Kant: Neutralizing Theological Discourse and Doxology
Modern Theology, 25(3), 387- 414, July 2009
Anthony C. Sciglitano, Ph.D. Department of Religion
This essay argues that Kant's writings on religion recapitulate or anticipate many of the theoretical moves we find in Promethean discourses of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The first portion of the article lays out fundamental elements of Promethean discourse from a theological point of view, and distinguishes between “aggressive” and “urbane” Prometheanism. I contend that both types attack divine transcendence and Christian doxology, focus almost entirely on soteriology to the detriment of creation, and advocate a movement from theo-centric discourse to anthropocentric discourse. Yet urbane Prometheanism differs from its aggressive cousin by moving from hatred of God to a non-dialogical mode of indifference to God as an impotent and inconsequential deity. I argue that an urbane Prometheanism is what properly characterizes Kant's philosophy of religion—from his epistemic work in the first Critique, through his way of parsing theological and philosophical discursive responsibilities, to his actual hermeneutics of Christian doctrine.