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Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach


FEUERBACH, LUDWIG ANDREAS (1804-1872) , Ger man philosopher, fourth son of the eminent jurist (see below), was born at Landshut, Bavaria, on July 28, 1804. After two years in Berlin, under Hegel, Feuerbach studied natural science at Erlangen in 1828. His first book, published anonymously, Ge danken uber Tod and Unsterblichkeit (183o), attacks personal immortality and advocates the Spinozistic immortality of reab sorption in nature. He then published Geschichte der neueren Philosophie (2 viols., 1833-37), Abalard and Heloise Pierre Bayle (1838) and Philosophie and Christentum (1839) in which he claimed "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." This attack is followed up in his most important work, Das 1V esen des Christentums (1841 Eng. trs. by George Eliot, 1853) which aims to humanize theology. He lays it down that man 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 con sciousness; or, in the consciousness of the infinite, the conscious subject has for his object the infinity of his own nature." Thus God is, so to speak, the outward projection of man's inward nature. In pt. i he develops the "true or anthropological essence of reli gion." 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 these aspects correspond to some need of human nature. In pt. ii. he discusses the "false or theological essence of religion," i.e. the view which regards God as having a separate existence leads to a belief in revelation and in sacra ments, which are pieces of religious materialism. Feuerbach de nied that he was rightly called an atheist, but the denial is merely verbal. Like Fichte, he strives in vain to reconcile the religious consciousness with subjectivism. During the troubles of Feuerbach's attack upon orthodoxy made him something of a hero with the revolutionary party. His Theogonie (185 7) was followed by Gottheit, Freiheit and Unsterbichkeit (1866). He died on Sept. 13, 1872.

Feuerbach's influence has been greatest upon the anti-Christian theologians such as D. F. Strauss, author of the Leben Jesu, and Bruno Bauer, who like Feuerbach had passed from Hegelianism to a form of naturalism. Some of his ideas were taken up by those engaged in the struggle between church and state in Ger many, and those who, like F. Engels and Karl Marx, were leaders in the revolt of labour against capital. His work was too deliber ately unsystematic ever to make him a power in philosophy.

His works appeared in io vols. (Leipzig, 1846-66 ; at Stuttgart 1903—II) ; his correspondence has been edited by K. Griin (1874) . See A. Levy, La Philosophie de Feuerbach (19o4) ; M. Meyer, L. Feuerbachs Moralphilosophie (Berlin, 1899) ; E. v. Hartmann, Ge schichte d. Metaphysik (Leipzig, 1899), F. Engels, L. Feuerbach and d. Ausgang d. class. deutsch. Philos. (2nd ed., 1895) ; A. Kohut, L. Feuerbach (1909).

nature, consciousness, religion, god and feuerbachs