German Philosopher and Anthropologist
Ludwig Feuerbach, fully Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach
German Philosopher and Anthropologist
The beginning of existence is nourishment; therefore, food is the beginning of wisdom. The first condition of putting any thing into your head and heart, is to put something into your stomach.
God, I have said, is the fulfiller, or the reality, of the human desires for happiness, perfection, and immortality. From this it may be inferred that to deprive man of God is to tear the heart out of his breast. But I contest the premises from which religion and theology deduce the necessity and existence of God, or of immortality, which is the same thing. I maintain that desires which are fulfilled only in the imagination, or from which the existence of an imaginary being is deduced, are imaginary desires, and not the real desires of the human heart; I maintain that the limitations which the religious imagination annuls in the idea of God or immortality, are necessary determinations of the human essence, which cannot be dissociated from it, and therefore no limitations at all, except precisely in man’s imagination.
Whenever morality is based on theology, whenever right is made dependent on divine authority, the most immoral, unjust, infamous things can be justified and established.
Pantheism makes God into a present, real, and material being; empiricism – to which rationalism also belongs – makes God into an absent, remote, unreal, and negative being. Empiricism does not deny God existence, but denies him all positive determinations, because their content is supposed to be only finite and empirical; the infinite cannot, therefore, be an object for man. But the more determinations I deny to a being, the more do I cut it of[ from myself, and the less power and influence do I concede to it over me, the freer do I make myself of it. The more qualities I possess, the more I am for others, and the greater is the extent of my influence and effects. And the more one is, the more one is known to others. Hence, each negation of an attribute of God is a partial atheism, a sphere of godlessness.
Life on earth is brief. But note, dear mystic, brief only in time, for in its value it is as infinite as God.
The doctrine of foods is of great ethical and political significance. Food becomes blood, blood becomes heart and brain, thoughts and mind stuff. Human fare is the foundation of human culture and thought. Would you improve a nation? Give it, instead of declamations against sin, better food. Man is what he eats.
But like the desire for eternal life, the desire for omniscience and absolute perfection is merely an imaginary desire; and, as history and daily experience prove, the supposed human striving for unlimited knowledge and perfection is a myth. Man has no desire to know everything; he only wants to know the things to which he is particularly drawn.
If therefore my work is negative, irreligious, atheistic, let it be remembered that atheism - at least in the sense of this work - is the secret of religion itself; that religion itself, not indeed on the surface, but fundamentally, not in intention or according to its own supposition, but in its heart, in its essence, believes in nothing else than the truth and divinity of human nature.
"Faith moves moutains!" Certainly! Faith does not solve difficult problems... It only pushes them aside.
Christianity set itself the goal of fulfilling man’s unattainable desires, but for that very reason ignored his attainable desires. By promising man eternal life, it deprived him of temporal life, by teaching him to trust in God’s help it took away his trust in his own powers; by giving him faith in a better life in heaven, it destroyed his faith in a better life on earth and his striving to attain such a life. Christianity gave man what his imagination desires, but for that very reason failed to give him what he really and truly desires.
The hereafter is certainly an excellent institution, A welcome asylum for cowardice and spiritual want.
Man has many wishes that he does not really wish to fulfil, and it would be a misunderstanding to suppose the contrary. He wants them to remain wishes, they have value only in his imagination; their fulfilment would be a bitter disappointment to him. Such a desire is the desire for eternal life. If it were fulfilled, man would become thoroughly sick of living eternally, and yearn for death. In reality man wishes merely to avoid a premature, violent or gruesome death. Everything has its measure, says a pagan philosopher; in the end we weary of everything, even of life; a time comes when man desires death. Consequently there is nothing frightening about a normal, natural death, the death of a man who has fulfilled himself and lived out his life.
What yesterday was still religion is no longer such today; and what today is athesim, tomorrow will be religion.
I have always taken as the standard of the mode of teaching and writing, not the abstract, particular, professional philosopher, but universal man, that I have regarded man as the criterion of truth, and not this or that founder of a system, and have from the first placed the highest excellence of the philosopher in this, that he abstains, both as a man and as an author, from the ostentation of philosophy, i.e., that he is a philosopher only in reality, not formally, that he is a quiet philosopher, not a loud and still less a brawling one.
The first and highest law must be the love of man to man. Homo homini Deus est- this is the supreme practical maxim, this the turning point of the world's History.
Religion is the dream of the human mind. But even in dreams we do not find ourselves in emptiness or in heaven, but on earth, in the realm of reality; we only see real things in the entrancing splendor of imagination and caprice, instead of in the simple daylight of reality and necessity.
The present age... prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, fancy to reality, the appearance to the essence... for in these days illusion only is sacred, truth profane.
Every moment of life is fulfilled being, infinitely significant for its own sake, self-appointed and self-satisfied – an unlimited affirmation of itself.
It is the consciousness of love by which man reconciles himself with God, or rather with his own nature as represented in the moral law.