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The Essence of Christianity (Philosophical Classics) [Paperback]

By Ludwig Feuerbach (Author)
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Item description for The Essence of Christianity (Philosophical Classics) by Ludwig Feuerbach...

Did God create man? Or did man create God? Famed German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach explores the answer in this, his most influential work, published in German in 1841 and translated by celebrated English novelist George Eliot. Using Biblical references, dialectics, and ideas from some of the world's greatest thinkers, he confronts believers with his cogent explanation.
Approaching religion from a humanistic perspective, Feuerbach explores the idea that divinity is an outward projection of our idealistic human nature. Asserting that nothing is higher than the perfection found in mankind, he proposes that a Supreme Being was created by man seeking comfort and relief from a hostile world, challenging tenets of Christianity from creation and the resurrection to faith and miracles. Feuerbach's critique of Hegelian idealism excited immediate international attention -- influencing Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, and Friedrich Engels in particular. Thought-provoking and utterly compelling, this historically significant polemic is must reading for lifelong students of religion and philosophy.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Dover Publications
Pages   288
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.28" Width: 5.23" Height: 0.61"
Weight:   0.54 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jun 11, 2008
Publisher   Dover Publications
ISBN  0486454215  
ISBN13  9780486454214  

Availability  2 units.
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More About Ludwig Feuerbach

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! The classic humanist analysis of Christianity by Ludwig Feuerbach, translated by renowned English novelist George Eliot

Ludwig Feuerbach was born in 1804 and died in 1872.

Ludwig Feuerbach has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Dover Philosophical Classics
  2. Great Books in Philosophy

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Religious
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > General
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality

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Reviews - What do customers think about The Essence of Christianity (Philosophical Classics)?

From all the books I read so far, this one has touched me the most. Feuerbach's way of theorising is totally compelling and his words are completly overpowering. This is the MOST BEAUTIFUL, MOST POWERFUL AND MOST HUMANE piece of literature I've ever come across!!!
Anthropology  Sep 17, 2004
"Conscousness of God is self-consciousness, knowledge of God is self-knowledge." wrote Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872) in his landmark text ESSENCE of CHRISTIANITY. Atheism had found its critical voice in a student of Hegel.

Feuerbach took on the task of showing that the antithesis of divine and human is altogether illusory, that it is nothing else than the antithesis between the human nature in general and the human individual; that, consequently, the object and contents of the Christian religion are altogether. God is a projection of the highest human values.

The ideal of humanity, realized collectively by the aggregate of all human experience, replaces a divine ideal. Feuerbach contends that the consciousness of God is nothing else than the concsiousness of the species; that man can and should raise himself only above the limits of his individuality, and not above the laws, the positive essential conditions of his species; that there is no other essence which man can think, dream of imagine, feel, believe in, wish for, love and adore as the absolute, than the essence of human nature itself.

Although he espouses a distorted and often inaccurate picture as a result of his completely arbitrary use of biblical and ecclesiastical texts and facts, Feuerbach addresses a very real problem with Christianity, specifically, and religion, in general. Namely, that a heavenly focus can sometimes be of no earthly value. Feuerbach saw the evil that persisted in the world exacerbated by the neglect fostered by religious institutions. But does Feuerbach offer anything more concrete when he speculates on an ideal of a collective humanity?

Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud were both greatly influenced by Feuerbach's work. Marx offered a socio-economic system of dialectical conflict. Marxist socio-economic solutions have shown themselves to be no more compassionate to the problems of humanity than the systems they tried to replace. Freud's psychoanalysis viewed religious ideas as the fulfillments of the oldest, strongest and most urgent wishes of mankind. This is quite true and the believer in God can say the same. Feuerbach's, and subsequently, Marx and Freud's, atheism turns out to be a hypothesis that has not been conclusively proved, nor disproved.

Herr Doktor Hans Küng in his landmark text _Does God Exist?_ identifies three points in Feuerbach's critique of religion that religious and spiritual people would do well to consider. _Have not Church and theology frequently defended God at the expense of man, the hereafter at the expense of the here and now?... Is it not clear at this point how close we are to atheism if we do not distinguish between theological and anthropological propositions, if we identify man's interest with God's, if we one-sidedly stress God's nonobjectivity, almost see God as absorbed in our neighbor and the mystery of being simply as the mystery of love?... The weaknesses in the first place are those of an all-too-naïve, anthropomorphic talk about God, his words and deeds, in metaphors, formulas predicates, that are actually more appropriate to the reality of man than to the reality of God... But the weaknesses are also those of philosophical-speculative talk about God..._

For my own spiritual relationship, I can accept Feuerbach's anthropological argument. Assigning God as the ideal of human values does not bring my spiritual relationship any closer to my individual experience. Instead, it tends to remove my commitment from the experiences of my life directly opposed to Feuerbach's intent. My spiritual relationship becomes yet one more humanist tool with which to navigate through the challenges of life. On the other hand, I find strength in my spiritual commiment when the circumstances of my life become opportunities of faith. When my own individuality, denied by both Feuerbach and Hegel, is acknowledged, I am not only more aware of my shortcomings but also, my own capacity for a spiritual relationship. Whether this is theology or anthropology, I encourage each reader to decide on their own.

If you are interested in the origins of atheism, the development of western philosophy or in challenging your spiritual assumptions, this book may be interesting to you.

Interesting and influential, but not on target  Jun 1, 2004
Feuerbach makes a persuasive case here, but the logic and grounding of it are very shaky. His conception of Christianity is clearly not that of the Catholic theologians that make up the heart of Catholic thought and Christian thought in general. It seems that he has read Luther and Augustine but not Aquinas, a fatal flaw. His understanding of Augustine seems to gravitate towards tendencies of his that are questioned by the other major Catholic thinkers. Feuerbach falls into a dualistic world view giving the devil real power and existence which is one of the faults that the Catholics point out in Augustine- a hang over from his days of Manichaeism. Feuerbach also seems confused on the idea of human free will and thought. When he points out the contradictions in Christian theology and doctrine he is doing so from a logical materialistic point f view, he assumes that logic and the material world are truth. This skirts the issues of true theology, especially mystical theology, because these contradictions are part of the mystery of Christianity, not a detraction from it. Faith, Christianity is by definition not totally logical or material, it is an Enlightenment mistake to think it is.

He may persuade and have had a huge influence on Marx, both of which are reason to read the book. But this work is not very well researched or argued. He may persuade people who are already non-believers (or skeptics) and people that do not understand Christian theology well but those who have a strong faith or know theology will hardly be touched. His argument assumes that Lutheran/ protestant theology can be substituted for all of Christianity, and that logic and materialism are far superior and truthful than faith and the spiritual. He is preaching to the choir.

I've seen the light!  Aug 4, 2001
This book needs to be back on College Philosophy and Religion reading lists! Never before have I read such a clear and obvious explanation of the religious mind. Wonderful translation and editing work by George Eliot makes this a revolutionary work of religious philosophy. I'm a wife, mother, English Literature graduate and a spiritual seeker whose life was changed by reading Feuerbach's analysis of God as our subjective projection as Other. Please don't let your questing mind miss this one.
A very us  Jul 31, 2000
I read this book in search of the philosophical roots of Max Stirner, author of The Ego and Its Own. For this purpose, the book is excellent; you can see where Max Stirner came from on a number of issues that had hitherto seemed a bit cloudy to me - both in what Stirner reacts to and what he has drawn on.

The book is, however, a very compelling read in its own right as well. Feuerbach takes us through literally the whole catalogue of Christian belief, and shows us how each item of belief is explained at least as well - or perhaps even better - as an anthropomorphism rather than as a supernatural manifestation. It must be said, though, that each single one of his arguments on their own do not lead to such a conviction. Just like you are not convinced that the dice are loaded by getting 6 once or twice, you will not be convinced if anthropomorphism fits the bill of Christianity in a few single instances. However - analogously with the dice - when you strike 6 nearly every time, you will be convinced that the dice are loaded.

If I have a criticism of Feuerbach, it is that after he has revealed the Essence of Christianity as being the worship of Man, he keeps the essence and only discards the accidental properties of Christianity, i.e. the supernaturalism. This was also what Max Stirner called him on. But my disagreement does not mean a disparagement of the value of the book. So I recommend it as a read.


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