Explain Feuerbach’s teaching on Religion
Feuerbach began his philosophical career as a Hegelian but quickly came to see the shortcomings of this philosophy. He argued that Hegel’s system was a mere ‘ghost of theology’ and swiftly moved on to write his own works. His most famous being ‘The Essence of Christianity’ and ‘The Essence of Religion’. Feuerbach was a modernist and in his major works he tends to reduce religion to its existential, sociological and anthropological origins.
Feuerbach states that Religion illustrates an interesting and important fact about being human and that is the overwhelming sense humans have of their finitude and dependency. Without science such feelings couldn’t be given adequate explanation; early human attempts to explain these feelings is what caused the rise to religion. From this perspective Feuerbach claims that religion is the most important insight into human consciousness and human needs. The sense of religious feeling of dependence is ‘self –feeling feeling’.
Feuerbach claims that the development of religion portrays two things: That gradually humans have overcome their dependency on nature by representing it in symbolic terms such as Gods or personified powers of creation. Secondly that the symbols have been objectified further into metaphysical ideas. This is clearly seen in the belief of the one infinite, transcendent God of monotheism. However, Feuerbach goes on to say that the history of religion also reveals that those who developed its doctrines were aware that in fact belief and dependency on God can only be plausible if God is radically and ‘wholly different’ from Nature. He outlines that Luther’s insistence on the finitude of man illustrated how unnecessary God is ontologically for human existence. He is unnecessary for existence but a symbol of what humans need and desire in their life. The attributes of God therefore become objective as it is the tendency of the human mind to project particularly...
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