Ludwig Feuerbach The Essence Of Christianity Religion Essay

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Feuerbach’s own introduction to the second print of his The Essence of Christianity is as good an exposé as any of both his intentions and the content of his book. His own comments on the style of his writing are insightful both with regard to the content of the book as of the Young Hegelian movement as a whole. Forms, it seems, encapsulates the direction which Hegelian thought seem to have taken. This sense of style seems both as a device by which Feuerbach distances himself from the at times tiresome and elaborate musings of the German philosophical tradition and as a means by which to demonstrate the immediate and down-to-earth conclusion he himself has drawn from studying the Christian faith. In doing so Feuerbach claims to walk a path wholly of his own making, far removed from the obfuscation associated with Hegel’s work. Style, then, is as much content as it is on the surface of things. It tells us both to whom the message is addressed and the context in which it is written. Feuerbach is, perhaps as a result of his awareness of the to be resolved Hegelian dichotomy between form and content, highly self-conscious of the form he is taking in addressing his audience: .

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The qualities ascribed to Christianity are, in truth, the qualities of the human mind at a given time. Throughout The Essence the claim is repeated that faith is but an alienated manifestation of the self-as-species. The consciousness of God is the self-consciousness of mankind, the knowledge of God is the understanding of mankind. Religion is the first attempt towards self-consciousness. Yet it is in itself flawed; it remains an indirect self-consciousness through the manifestations of religion. Feuerbach writes in a sentence that could have been made by Hegel himself; . “Der Mensch verlegt sein Wesen zuerst außer sich, ehe er es in sich findet.” . “At first man misplaces his essence outside himself, before finding it within himself.” . Everything that is to be found in religion can be found in actual human consciousness itself.

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Die Liebe ist das universale Gesetz der Intelligenz und Natur – sie ist nichts andres als die Verwirklichung der Einheit der Gattung auf dem Wege der Gesinnung.” . “True love is enough by virtue of itself; it needs not special titel, no authority. Love is the universal law of intelligence and nature – it is nothing else but the realization of the unity of the species on the road of natural inclination.” . Love is only free when it is universal, unrestrained by particularity. Only then can it serve as the means by which man recognizes himself-as-species. The notion of species is not a cold intellectual thought; the very energy of love, our most human of inclinations, is that which constitues our species-being. The historical figure Jesus Christ is therefore nothing else but our species-being represented in a singular image. Since we are all human, and therefore part of humanity, so too are all of us Christ.

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