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The Essence of Christianity (Great Books in Philosophy) [Paperback]

Ludwig Feuerbach , George Eliot
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Oct 1989 Great Books in Philosophy
In this, one of the most influential works of the post-Hegelian era, Feuerbach captures the synthesis that emerges from the dialectical process of a transcending Godhead and the rational and material world.

In understanding the true nature of what it means to be fully human, Feuerbach contends that we come face to face with the essenceof Christian theology: human beings investing ordinary concepts with divine meaning and significance. The true danger to humanity occurs when theology is given the force of dogma and doctrine. Losing sight of its anthropological underpinnings and dependence upon or emergence from human nature, it then acquires an existence separate from that of humankind.

Feuerbach leaves nothing untouched: miracles, the Trinity, Creation, prayer, resurrection, immortality, faith and much more.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 363 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (1 Oct 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879755598
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879755591
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 14 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 62,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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From the Back Cover

In The Essence of Christianity-this is the classic 1853 translation of the 1841 German original-Feuerbach discusses the "true or anthropological" root of religion, exploring how everything from the nature of God to the mysteries of mysticism and prayer can be viewed through such a prism. He goes on to examine the "false" essences of religion, including contradictions in ideas of the existence of a deity, and then how God and religion are merely expressions of human emotion. This is essential background reading for understanding everything from Marx's Communist Manifesto to modern apolitical philosophies of atheism.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach (July 28, 1804 – September 13, 1872) was a German philosopher and anthropologist best known for his book The Essence of Christianity, which provided a critique of Christianity which strongly influenced generations of later thinkers, including both Karl Marx and Frederich Engels. An associate of Left Hegelian circles, Feuerbach advocated liberalism, atheism and materialism. Many of his philosophical writings offered a critical analysis of religion. His thought was influential in the development of dialectical materialism, where he is often recognized as a bridge between Hegel and Marx. Mary Ann Evans (22 November 1819 – 22 December 1880; alternatively "Mary Anne" or "Marian"), known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist, journalist, translator and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. She is the author of seven novels, including Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Middlemarch (1871–72), and Daniel Deronda (1876), most of them set in provincial England and known for their realism and psychological insight. She used a male pen name, she said, to ensure her works would be taken seriously. Female authors were published under their own names during Eliot's life, but she wanted to escape the stereotype of women only writing lighthearted romances. She also wished to have her fiction judged separately from her already extensive and widely known work as an editor and critic. An additional factor in her use of a pen name may have been a desire to shield her private life from public scrutiny and to prevent scandals attending her relationship with the married George Henry Lewes, with whom she lived for over 20 years. Her 1872 work Middlemarch has been described by Martin Amis and Julian Barnes as the greatest novel in the English language. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A document of human motivation 31 July 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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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Essence of Christianty 16 Oct 2011
I wrote an extensive review of this book but it never showed up here! In short, I think that Feuerbach provides the most compelling refutation of God and Christianity - one that drifts away from more traditional criticisms (think: cosmological, ontological, teleological etc.), and instead focuses on the anthropological aspects of religion. He reaches a conclusion that is so plainly clear to me - that man created God and religion in man's own image - with striking convinction (if you can get your head around his ambiguous writing style). In my eyes, this book destroys the metaphysical claims made by Christianity, and as a whole, it should be recognised as a HUGELY important contribution to the study of religion.
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6 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Essence of Christianity 3 Feb 1999
By A Customer
As the title suggests, Feuerbach is concerned in this book with describing the essence of Christianity. This is not a theological argument in support of atheism, but rather an argument against belief in a particular notion of God, namely that concept of God which denies that God is to be found in the predicates.
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7 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ABSOLUTELY PHENOMENAL!!! 20 Mar 2005
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. I recommend this book with all my heart!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten genius 7 Oct 2010
This book is a marvellous critique of Christianity from a humanist perspective. It is extremely stimulating and intellectually challenging.
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