The London Quarterly Review/39/Feuerbach

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Literary Notices: Feuerbach  (1873) 
The London Quarterly Review


On September 13th, departed this life Ludwig Feuerbach, in the sixty-eighth year of his age. The history of recent philosophy, rich as it is in destructive workers, has no name more conspicuous in destruction of all that men should hold dear than the name of Feuerbach. Forty years ago he passed through Hegelian Pantheism to sheer Atheism. In 1841 he published his Wesen des Christenthums, a blasphemous work, in which Atheism passes into Antitheism, that is, into direct enmity to the very idea of any God whatever. In it the religious principle is made the root of all evil; and truth is only to be found in the utter destruction of every so-called spiritual idea. As years rolled on he went further still: he abandoned the notion that man is in any sense a rational being; and proclaimed the fundamental principle of the new philosophy to be this, that "the body is the I, and only that which is sensible, or pertaining to sense, is real." As a deduction from this, external nature was placed above man, and this much admired philosopher uprooted the principles of all philosophy. The following are his own words, describing the process of his intellectual development: "God was my first thought, reason my second; man is my third and last thought." But what he understood by man appears from another and still better known apophthegm of his, "that which man eats man is." Hence, Feuerbach may be called the father of modern materialism; and, in Germany, at least, he has done more than any man to reduce human thinking to its lowest level of brutish inconsistency. It is not to be wondered at that the spirit of destructiveness in religion led him and his followers to a similar destructiveness in social and political theories. He was at the bottom of much of the feverish spirit of recent German radicalism; and he died as the representative of a firm and perfect hatred of all civil and political order. When it is added that he closed his days at Nuremberg in poverty and misery, it seems only like the fitting though lamentable end of such a man.