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Taking ‘things as they are’: the basis of Ludwig Feuerbach'sobjection to the Christian religion

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The main aim of this paper is to present a study of Feuerbach's political position. This will include an explication of his account of what he claimed were the shared psychological and cultural roots of religion and the principles of social and political conservatism, as well as of the specific radical political prescriptions that he held were suggested by his advocation of realism. However, Feuerbach's primary interest was ‘religion . . . and everything connected with it’:3 his critique of religion was the context and substance of his political utterances. It will, therefore, be necessary to preface this paper with an explanation of some key ideas of this critique.

Much of Feuerbach's ostensible hostility to religion and theology, and the political radicalism that was inseparable from it, can be explained as a response to the peculiar religio-political milieu of Restoration Germany. However, as a subsidiary aim of this paper, I hope to show that Feuerbach's objections to Christianity arose initially, and took shape, not from a political impulse, but from metaphysical and philosophical concerns of a rather recondite kind. The substantive character of his mature critique of religion is usually, and rightly, claimed to have arisen from his critique of Hegelian philosophy. But the Christian religion was an object of negative criticism to him prior to his break with Hegelianism. Indeed, on the issue of Christianity, Feuerbach was at odds with Hegel from the outset of his intellectual career. By taking account of Feuerbach's earliest and often neglected writings, I hope to put his mature objections to Christianity into some context of what might be termed perennial Feuerbachian themes.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1993-03-01

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