Dialectical Spiritualism: Immanuel Kant, Part 9


Conversations wtih HDG A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, excerpted from  Dialectical Spiritualism: A Vedic View of Western Philosophy.

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

Hayagriva dasa: Kant rejected church-going as a means to salvation. He states that "sensuous representation of God is contrary to the command of reason: 'Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image,' etc."

Srila Prabhupada: If someone imagines an image, that is not good. An image arises from the imagination. However, it is different to keep a photograph of your beloved. The photograph of your beloved is not imaginary. It is a fact.

Hayagriva dasa: Although rejecting prayer as an inner formal service to God, Kant believed that it is good to teach children to pray so that in their early years they might accustom themselves to a life pleasing to God.

Srila Prabhupada: Religion means pleasing God, and that is not restricted to children.

Hayagriva dasa: Concerning the Christian belief in the resurrection of the body, Kant writes: "For who is so fond of his body that he would wish to drag it about with him through all eternity if he could get on without it?"

Srila Prabhupada: It is natural to want to retain one's body. Even though his life is abominable, a hog will cry when being captured or killed. He does not consider his body to be undesirable, although he is eating stool and living in a filthy place. It is natural to want to protect one's body perpetually, regardless of one's condition. This tendency is there because the living entity is eternal, and he is hankering after that eternity. It is his mistake to desire this eternity in a material body.

Syamasundara dasa: In his book Eternal Peace, Kant asserts that there can be peace in the world if certain laws are followed.

Srila Prabhupada: We often hear that peace can be attained, but it can be attained only when we understand that Krsna is the factual proprietor of everything. We must accept Krsna as our friend and understand that we are not the proprietors of anything. We must know that everything belongs to Krsna if peace is to reign.

Hayagriva dasa: Concerning government, Kant writes: "An ethical commonwealth can be thought of only as a people under divine commands, as a people of God This would be a commonwealth wherein God would be the Lawgiver. "

Srila Prabhupada: If the king or president and the people abide by the orders of God, the state will be ideal.

Hayagriva dasa: Kant's state would be theocratic in its constitution; however, since priests receive gifts from God directly, they would construct an aristocratic government.

Srila Prabhupada: A theocratic government is properly outlined in Manu-samhita, given by Manu for the benefit of all human society.

Syamasundara dasa: Kant believes that there should be a world state in which everyone can participate, and a system of international law regulating relationships between various nations or states.

Srila Prabhupada: This is also our position, the proposition of the International Society for Krsna Consciousness. There is one God, and there should be one state. If we can turn the majority of people to Krsna consciousness, they will vote for Krsna conscious people, and they will not be exploited. The principles that we are following individually can be introduced on a larger scale.

Syamasundara dasa: Kant believes that the leaders should follow the moral principles, but he rejects Plato's idea that the philosophers should be kings. Rather, they should serve as advisors only. Then they will be able to exercise good judgment.

Srila Prabhupada: That is also the Vedic system. The brahmanas advise the ksatriyas. If the brahmanas are empowered and try to administer, their philosophical qualities will be diminished. They should remain free and act only as advisors.