Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach

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Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach, German philosopher

Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach (July 28, 1804September 13, 1872) was a German philosopher.


The Essence of Christianity (1841)

  • If therefore my work is negative, irreligious, atheistic, let it be remembered that atheism—at least in the sense of this work—is the secret of religion itself; that religion itself, not indeed on the surface, but fundamentally, not in intention or according to its own supposition, but in its heart, in its essence, believes in nothing else than the truth and divinity of human nature.
    • Preface
  • I have always taken as the standard of the mode of teaching and writing, not the abstract, particular, professional philosopher, but universal man, that I have regarded man as the criterion of truth, and not this or that founder of a system, and have from the first placed the highest excellence of the philosopher in this, that he abstains, both as a man and as an author, from the ostentation of philosophy, i.e., that he is a philosopher only in reality, not formally, that he is a quiet philosopher, not a loud and still less a brawling one.
    • Preface to Second Edition (1843)
  • The present age ... prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, fancy to reality, the appearance to the essence ... for in these days illusion only is sacred, truth profane.
    • Preface to Second Edition (1843)
  • Religion is the dream of the human mind. But even in dreams we do not find ourselves in emptiness or in heaven, but on earth, in the realm of reality; we only see real things in the entrancing splendor of imagination and caprice, instead of in the simple daylight of reality and necessity.
    • Preface to Second Edition (1843)

Principles of Philosophy of the Future (1843)

  • Speculative philosophy as the realisation of God is the positing of God, and at the same time his cancellation or negation; theism and at the same time atheism: for God – in the sense of theology – is God only as long as he is taken to be a being distinguished from and independent of the being of man as well as of nature. The theism that as the positing of God is simultaneously his negation or, conversely, as the negation of God equally his affirmation, is pantheism. Theological theism – that is, theism properly speaking – is nothing other than imaginary pantheism which itself is nothing other than real and true theism.
    • Part I, Section 14
  • Pantheism makes God into a present, real, and material being; empiricism – to which rationalism also belongs – makes God into an absent, remote, unreal, and negative being. Empiricism does not deny God existence, but denies him all positive determinations, because their content is supposed to be only finite and empirical; the infinite cannot, therefore, be an object for man. But the more determinations I deny to a being, the more do I cut it of[ from myself, and the less power and influence do I concede to it over me, the freer do I make myself of it. The more qualities I possess, the more I am for others, and the greater is the extent of my influence and effects. And the more one is, the more one is known to others. Hence, each negation of an attribute of God is a partial atheism, a sphere of godlessness.
    • Part I, Section 16
  • The secret of Hegel's dialectic lies ultimately in this alone, that it negates theology through philosophy in order then to negate philosophy through theology. Both the beginning and the end are constituted by theology; philosophy stands in the middle as the negation of the first positedness, but the negation of the negation is again theology. At first everything is overthrown, but then everything is reinstated in its old place, as in Descartes. The Hegelian philosophy is the last grand attempt to restore a lost and defunct Christianity through philosophy, and, of course, as is characteristic of the modern era, by identifying the negation of Christianity with Christianity itself.
    • Part II, Section 21
  • The recognition of the light of reality within the darkness of abstraction is a contradiction – both the affirmation and the negation of the real at one and the same time. The new philosophy, which thinks the concrete not in an abstract but a concrete way, which acknowledges the real in its reality – that is, in a way corresponding to the being of the real as true, which elevates it into the principle and object of philosophy – is consequently the truth of the Hegelian philosophy, indeed of modern philosophy as a whole.
    • Part III, Section 31

Lectures on the Essence of Religion (1851)

  • We have busied ourselves and contented ourselves long enough with speaking and writing; now at last we demand that the word become flesh, the spirit matter; we are as sick of political as we are of philosophical idealism; we are determined to become political materialists.
    • Lecture I, Occasion and Context
  • God, I have said, is the fulfiller, or the reality, of the human desires for happiness, perfection, and immortality. From this it may be inferred that to deprive man of God is to tear the heart out of his breast. But I contest the premises from which religion and theology deduce the necessity and existence of God, or of immortality, which is the same thing. I maintain that desires which are fulfilled only in the imagination, or from which the existence of an imaginary being is deduced, are imaginary desires, and not the real desires of the human heart; I maintain that the limitations which the religious imagination annuls in the idea of God or immortality, are necessary determinations of the human essence, which cannot be dissociated from it, and therefore no limitations at all, except precisely in man’s imagination.
    • Lecture XXX, Atheism alone a Positive View
  • Man has many wishes that he does not really wish to fulfil, and it would be a misunderstanding to suppose the contrary. He wants them to remain wishes, they have value only in his imagination; their fulfilment would be a bitter disappointment to him. Such a desire is the desire for eternal life. If it were fulfilled, man would become thoroughly sick of living eternally, and yearn for death. In reality man wishes merely to avoid a premature, violent or gruesome death. Everything has its measure, says a pagan philosopher; in the end we weary of everything, even of life; a time comes when man desires death. Consequently there is nothing frightening about a normal, natural death, the death of a man who has fulfilled himself and lived out his life.
    • Lecture XXX, Atheism alone a Positive View
  • But like the desire for eternal life, the desire for omniscience and absolute perfection is merely an imaginary desire; and, as history and daily experience prove, the supposed human striving for unlimited knowledge and perfection is a myth. Man has no desire to know everything; he only wants to know the things to which he is particularly drawn.
    • Lecture XXX, Atheism alone a Positive View
  • Christianity set itself the goal of fulfilling man’s unattainable desires, but for that very reason ignored his attainable desires. By promising man eternal life, it deprived him of temporal life, by teaching him to trust in God’s help it took away his trust in his own powers; by giving him faith in a better life in heaven, it destroyed his faith in a better life on earth and his striving to attain such a life. Christianity gave man what his imagination desires, but for that very reason failed to give him what he really and truly desires.
    • Lecture XXX, Atheism alone a Positive View

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