Quaker/Philosophy: Quakers and Kant: That of God in Everyone

Quakers recommend that, in our relations with each other, we should strive to respond to “that of God within everyone.” In my own thinking, I have always related this to a supreme principle of respect. At least part of respect includes believing that everyone is capable of goodness. And at least part of the recommendation to look for and respond to “that of God” within everyone is also to assume that everyone is capable of goodness.

The early Quakers believed that humans can reach a kind of perfection in life, and they too connected this notion with a kind of purification of will (see for example Barclay’s Proposition VIII, in his Apology [1675/1678]). Barclay believed that it is an insult to God to think that God created us so badly that a kind of human perfection is impossible. He also worries that a doctrine that human perfectibility is impossible can make us all too willing to accept our shortcomings.

Quaker/Philosophy: Quakers and Kant: That of God in Everyone