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The Essence of Christianity (Great Books in Philosophy) Paperback – October 1, 1989


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Product Details

  • Series: Great Books in Philosophy
  • Paperback: 363 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books; Published 1989 edition (October 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879755598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879755591
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,458 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The classic humanist analysis of Christianity by Ludwig Feuerbach, translated by renowned English novelist George Eliot

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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 30, 1998
Format: Paperback
In one of the most convincing theological arguments for athiesm of all time, The Essence of Christianity was written in a period of heavy religous tension in Germany. Through Fererbach's lengthy assertions and occaisonally flowery prose, the belief in a God seperate from man is systematically destroyed, albeit with occasionally thin argument. Feuerbach contends that religion is an expression of humanity, and that the collective potential for reason, affection, and will is the true essence of religion. He therefore does not contend with many of the main tenants of Lutheranism as they apply to the anthropological essence of religion. He argues that the belief in God is merely a misdirected belief in humankind. This work is an important historical and social one as the idea of human supremicy sets the stage for Frederick Engles and the Marxist era of Russia. It is interesting reading and creates for myriad new ways of percieving specific aspects of religion and humanity-- a must for anyone interested in any sort of theology.
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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Svein Olav Nyberg on July 31, 2000
Format: Paperback
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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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful By catherine guelph on September 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
"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.
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36 of 48 people found the following review helpful By A. Webb on August 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on September 24, 2014
Format: Paperback
Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach (1804-1872) was a German philosopher and anthropologist; he also wrote The Essence of Faith According to Luther.

He wrote in the Preface to the Second Edition, "I am nothing but a natural philosopher in the domain of mind." (Pg. xxxiv) He says, "It is not I, but religion that worships man, although religion, or rather theology, denies this; it is not I, an insignificant individual, but religion itself that says: God is man, man is God; it is not I, but religion that denies the God who is NOT man, but only an ens rationis [i.e., an abstract logical entity with no existence outside the mind]---since it makes God become man, and then constitutes this God, not distinguished from man, having a human form, human feelings, and human thoughts, the object of its worship and veneration." (Pg. xxxvi)

He states that the essence of religion is that "Consciousness of God is self-consciousness, knowledge of God is self-knowledge." (Pg. 12) He adds, "Man---this is the mystery of religion---projects his being into objectivity, and then again makes himself an object to this projected image of himself thus converted into a subject." (Pg. 29-30) He concludes the chapter on the note, "What yesterday was still religion is no longer such to-day; and what to-day is atheism, tomorrow will be religion." (Pg. 32)

He argues, "The clearest, most irrefragable proof that man in religion contemplates himself as the object of the Divine Being, as the end of the divine activity, that thus in religion he has relation only to his own nature, only to himself... is the love of God to man, the basis and central point of religion.
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