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Kant's thoughts on Death and the Afterlife
Some use rational arguments to suggest that there must be an afterlife. For example, the German
philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) argued that people needed to believe there was a source
of Goodness inspiring people to do good things (God), and that they had a soul, if they were to feel
there was any purpose in doing good (i.e. that they would be judged and held accountable for their
actions by God). For Kant, there needed to be an afterlife if the world was to make moral sense.
If our actions are pre-determined and we merely bounce around like snooker-balls, we cannot be
described as free and morality doesn't apply to us. Kant could not prove that we are free rather, he
presumed that we could act morally, and for this to be the case we must be free. He also thought
that it followed that there must be a God and life after death, otherwise morality would make no
Kant holds that we are justified in affirming that we will have an unending and enduring existence
after death, outside the framework of spatio-temporal causality, in which to continue the task of
seeking moral perfection. We are justified in affirming that there is a supreme cause of nature i.e.
God, that will bring this about, not merely for ourselves, but for all moral agents.
Kant's moral argument, in which life after death is a necessary postulate of practical reason.
Clearly justice is not administered in this life: some cheats prosper; some crime pays; bad things
happen to good people. People do not always, or even often, get what they deserve. Life isn`t fair.
If this life is all there is, then, justice is not done, and so moral behaviour is not rational; we have no
reason to be good. We do, though, have a reason to be good. This life, then, cannot be all that there
is. There must be something more.