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This article makes two key claims in succession. First of all, Kant’s own religious hope is significantly and studiedly distanced from the traditions of Christianity that he would have received, in ways that have not yet been fully, or widely, appreciated. Kant makes an ideal moral community the object of our religious hopes, and not the transcendent God of the tradition. Secondly, Kant nonetheless has a notion of transcendence at play, but in a strikingly different key to traditional Christianity. Both concepts of transcendence, the Christian and the Kantian, deflate, in their own distinctive ways, our hopes for politics and history, in a way that can unsettle the certainties, and vanities, of both the traditional theologian and the secular Rawlsian. The Christian hope is not the same as Kant’s religious hope, which is distinct, in origin, depth and ambition from his more limited hope for politics.


Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry

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Journal Article

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