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Ludwig Feuerbach (1804 - 1872)

1804 - 1872

Related Christianity - Germany - philosophy - religion - 1840s

But certainly for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, the appearance to the essence... illusion only is sacred, truth profane. Nay, sacredness is held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness. Feuerbach, Preface to the second edition of The Essence of Christianity via Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle (1967)

The Essence of Christianity (1841) - Ludwig Feuerbach [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Biography

Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach (July 28, 1804 September 13, 1872) was a German philosopher, the fourth son of the eminent jurist Paul Johann Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach.

The Essence of Christianity (1841) - Ludwig Feuerbach

Ludwig Feuerbach (1804 - 1872) held that he had proven "that Christianity has in fact long vanished not only from the reason but from the life of mankind, that it is nothing more than a fixed idea" in flagrant contradiction to the distinctive features of contemporary civilization. This attack is followed up in his most important work, Das Wesen des Christentums (1841), which was translated into English (The Essence of Religion, by George Eliot, 1853, 2nd ad. 1881), French and Russian. Its aim may be described shortly as an effort to humanize theology. He lays it down that man, so far as he is rational, is to himself his own object of thought. Religion is consciousness of the infinite. Religion therefore is "nothing else than the consciousness of the infinity of the consciousness; or, in the consciousness of the infinite, the conscious subject has for his object the infinity of his own nature." Thus God is nothing else than man: he is, so to speak, the outward projection. of man's inward nature. In part I of his book he develops what he calls the "true or anthropological essence of religion." Treating of God in his various aspects "as a being of the understanding," "as a moral being or law," "as love" and so on, Feuerbach shows that in every aspect God corresponds to some feature or need of human nature. "If man is to find contentment in God, he must find himself in God." In part 2 he discusses the "false or theological essence of religion," i.e. the view which regards God as having a separate existence over against man. Hence arise various mistaken beliefs, such as the belief in revelation which not only injures the moral sense, but also "poisons, nay destroys, the divinest feeling in man, the sense of truth," and the belief in sacraments such as the Lord's Supper, a piece of religious materialism of which "the necessary consequences are superstition and immorality."

In spite of many admirable qualities both of style and matter the Essence of Christianity has never made much impression upon thought outside Germany. To treat the actual forms of religion as expressions of our various human needs is a fruitful idea which deserves fuller development than it has yet received, but Feuerbach's treatment of it is fatally vitiated by his subjectivism. Feuerbach denied that he was rightly called an atheist, but the denial is merely verbal: what he calls "theism" is atheism in the ordinary sense. Feuerbach labours under the same difficulty as Fichte; both thinkers strive in vain to reconcile the religious consciousness with subjectivism. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Feuerbach [Jul 2005]

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