A precocious schoolchild, Marx studied law in Bonn and Berlin, and then wrote a PhD thesis in Philosophy, comparing the views of Democritus and Epicurus. On completion of his doctorate in Marx hoped for an academic job, but he had already fallen in with too radical a group of thinkers and there was no real prospect. Turning to journalism, Marx rapidly became involved in political and social issues, and soon found himself having to consider communist theory. Of his many early writings, four, in particular, stand out.
Feuerbach was knighted in recognition of his achievement in modernizing the Bavarian penal code, though his political influence was dramatically curtailed as a result of outspoken national-liberal criticisms of Napoleon expressed in pamphlets he published in and Raised Protestant and religiously devout in his youth, Ludwig matriculated in the theological faculty of the University of Heidelberg inwhere his father hoped he would come under the influence of the late rationalist theologian, H.
Ludwig was won over instead by the speculative theologian, Karl Daub, who had been instrumental in bringing Hegel to Heidelberg for two years inand was by this time one of the foremost theologians of the Hegelian school.
The scathingly satirical and even vulgar couplets Xenien directed against the Pietists that Feuerbach appended to his first book, Thoughts on Death and Immortalityhereafter Thoughts; see Section 2 belowwhich he published anonymously ineffectively destroyed his prospects for an academic career.
During the s Feuerbach published three books on the history of modern philosophy, in addition to several essays and reviews. A Contribution to the History of Philosophy and Humanitynone of which have been translated into English.
The first of them won him the praise of Edward Gans and an invitation from Leopold von Henning to contribute reviews to the Annals for Scientific Criticism, the principal journal of the Hegelian academic establishment in Berlin.
In these reviews Feuerbach defended the Hegelian philosophy vigorously against critics such as Karl Bachmann. Even after the publication of the works on Leibniz and Bayle, however, he was refused an academic appointment. Baur, to reveal the historical unreliability of the accounts of the life of Jesus preserved in the canonical gospels, and interpreted the doctrine of the incarnation of Christ as a mythological expression of the philosophical truth of the identity of the divine spirit and the human species conceived as the community of finite spirits existing throughout history, and not as the historical individual, Jesus of Nazareth.
In fact, Feuerbach was only then beginning to acquaint himself with socialist ideas through his reading of authors like Lorenz von Stein and Wilhelm Weitling.
He did come out of rural seclusion to observe fairly passively the ultimately disappointing events in Frankfurt inand to deliver a series of public lectures at Heidelberg beginning the same year.
The five years of philological labor that Feuerbach invested in the latter work, which he considered his crowning achievement, went largely unnoticed both by his contemporaries and by posterity.
The following year he and his wife and daughter were forced to relocate to the village of Rechenberg, located then on the outskirts of Nuremberg, where Feuerbach lived out the remainder of his life under severely strained financial circumstances and in increasingly ill health.
Feuerbach included several verses of the Prometheus-fragment as an epigram to his first book, in which he used the tools of Hegelian logic to develop a view of the divinity as One and All along lines laid out by Spinoza, Giordano Bruno and Jacob Boehme.
But this reconciliation, he argued, cannot occur as long as God continues to be thought of as an individual person existing independently of the world. Foreshadowing arguments put forward in his first book, Feuerbach went on in this letter to emphasize the need for the I, the self in general, which especially since the beginning of the Christian era, has ruled the world and has thought of itself as the only spirit that exists at all [to be] cast down from its royal throne.
Feuerbach made his first attempt to challenge prevailing ways of thinking about individuality in his inaugural dissertation, where he presented himself as a defender of speculative philosophy against those critics who claim that human reason is restricted to certain limits beyond which all inquiry is futile, and who accuse speculative philosophers of having transgressed these.
This criticism, he argued, presupposes a conception of reason is a cognitive faculty of the individual thinking subject that is employed as an instrument for apprehending truths. In the introduction to Thoughts Feuerbach assumes the role of diagnostician of a spiritual malady by which he claims that modern moral subjects are afflicted.
This loss Feuerbach finds reflected in three general tendencies of the modern age: Rather than consisting of lifeless matter to which motion is first imparted by the purposeful action of an external agent, Feuerbach argues that nature contains within itself the principle of its own development.
But the immeasurable multiplicity of systems within systems that results from this activity constitutes a single organic totality. Nature is ground and principle of itself, or—what is the same thing, it exists out of necessity, out of the soul, the essence of God, in which he is one with nature.
In Thoughts Feuerbach further argues that the death of finite individuals is not merely an empirical fact, but also an a priori truth that follows from a proper understanding of the relations between the infinite and the finite, and between essence and existence.Writing on the effects of this awakening of the human consciousness in The German Ideology, Marx affirms that unlike German philosophy ‘which descends from heaven to earth’, his ideas are.
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During one brief decade, Sydney Hook writes, the whole of German philosophy and culture stood within Feuerbach’s shadow, "If Hegel was the anointed king of German thought in the period from to , then Feuerbach was the philosophical arch-rebel from the time of the publication of his Das Wesen des Christenthums to the eve of the.