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Explain Freud Challenges to Kant’s Moral Argument

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Explain Freud’s challenge to Kant’s moral argument for the existence of God. Freud focused on the brain and how that thought processes worked on different levels. One of these levels was called the ‘super-ego’ which was responsible for how we chose and understood the difference between right and wrong; thus suggesting that a divine moral law giver, such as God, may not be responsible for how we act morally as intelligent beings. Freud’s research was a main challenge to Kant’s moral argument for the existence of God. In the moral argument, Kant used pure reason to argue for the existence of God as he believed arguments based deductively or deductively could not work to prove God’s existence. “We should deny knowledge, in order to make room for faith”. This was written in Kant’s ‘the critique of pure reason’, and in this argument, Kant maintains that a good will or a person with the right moral intentions seeks to bring about the summum bonum, it must therefore be attainable. However, due to the summum bonum being a possibility, we are limited as humans and we cannot assure that virtue is added to happiness to form the perfect state of affairs (summum bonum).

There must be a rational moral being, which as a creator and ruler of the world has the power to bring moral worth and happiness together. Those who strive to achieve the summum bonum shall be rewarded with happiness in eternity, despite the evidence of good may suffer and evil may prosper in this world. Freud’s argument which undermines Kant’s moral argument is successful as it defeats the idea of a divine creator and it opens the possibility of objective morality. When we look at the super-ego, Freud says that rather than morality being innate, we take our references and morals from what our parents teach us what is right and wrong and we imprint this to our brain, which makes it common sense to differ between right and wrong. Due to human’s being taught this by their parents at such a young age, we cannot remember the process of operant conditioning that out parents put us through, so we think these morals are just second nature. Interestingly, Freud described religion as a universal obsessional neurosis. He developed a theory called the ‘Oedipus complex’ which is based on a mythic story. This is where people have the desire to kill their father as they wish to be closest to their mother. The desire to kill our father is repressed on our conscious level into trying to respect and love our symbolic father.

The belief in God is just a way of ‘over-compensating for negative feelings’ towards a father. In supposition, all objective moral values are just part of neurosis which then suggest that we may not all share the same opinion of virtues and what we strive for, thus weakening Kant’s theory, almost to invalidity. To conclude, Freud’s challenges give reasonable accounts and explanations in human morals and the ways which they have originated. Whether that is from the influences from out parents and culture, to religion being a psychological illness; although the challenges were strong, Freud did not disprove his existence of God but rather undermined Kant’s moral argument and suggesting that God may not necessarily be the only reasonable theory for the origin for human morality.

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