In a rare moment of clarity, Immanuel Kant penned these unforgettable words:
Time was, when she (Metaphysics) was the queen of all the sciences; and, if we take the will for the deed, she certainly deserves, so far as regards the high importance of her object-matter, this title of honor. Now, it is the fashion of the time to heap contempt and scorn upon her; and the matron mourns, forlorn and forsaken, like Hecuba.
— Preface, The Critique of Pure Reason (1781)
This scorn and contempt for metaphysics was coming, of course, from empiricism generally and David Hume in particular.
Viewed from today’s vantage point, Kant’s effort to resurrect metaphysics — which never was a “science” as he claims — is bemusing if not quaint. Empiricism and its progeny swept the field, leaving metaphysics largely to theologians.
I was reminded of Kant and his programme today while reading this illuminating report on the John Templeton Foundation and its activities. Because the Templeton Foundation has an agenda and is massively funding all manner of research projects on religion (including several on the “evolution of religion”), I think it important for everyone to read the report.
Can the Templeton Foundation (and Templeton scholars) do what Kant failed to do? Can money turn metaphysics into science?