Ludwig Feuerbach Criticism - Essay

Ernest Renan (essay date 1864)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Renan, Ernest. “Feuerbach and the New Hegelian School.” In Studies of Religious History and Criticism, translated by O. B. Frothingham, pp. 331-41. New York: Carleton, 1864.

[In the following essay, Renan finds fault with Feuerbach's view of Christianity.]

Every considerable movement on the field of human opinions is worthy of interest even when we attach no great value to the mass of ideas that causes it. On this plea, the man who is devoted to critical researches cannot decline to notice the labours of the New Hegelian School on Christianity, although these labours do not always bear a strictly scientific character, and although the fancy of the humourist...

(The entire section is 3409 words.)

Friedrich Engels (essay date 1888)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Engels, Friedrich. “Feuerbach's Philosophy of Religion and Ethics.” In Ludwig Feuerbach and the Outcome of Classical German Philosophy, edited by C. P. Dutt, pp. 43-51. New York: International Publishers, 1935.

[In the following essay, originally published in 1888, Engels deems Feuerbach's conception of morality worthless due to its excessive abstraction.]

The real idealism of Feuerbach becomes evident as soon as we come to his philosophy of religion and ethics. He by no means wishes to abolish religion; he wants to perfect it. Philosophy itself must be absorbed in religion.

The periods of humanity are distinguished only...

(The entire section is 3036 words.)

Robert H. Lowie (essay date February 1905)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Lowie, Robert H. “Ludwig Feuerbach: A Pioneer of Modern Thought.” Liberal Review 2, no. 1 (February 1905): 20-31.

[In the following essay, Lowie summarizes the key elements of Feuerbach's thought, and proclaims him to be a pivotal figure in modern philosophy.]

It is no imputation on the English-speaking reader if the name of Feuerbach merely suggests a radical thinker, whose most popular work was translated by George Eliot, instead of some definite philosophical achievement. If any writer has had to suffer from unmerited neglect, it is Feuerbach. To the majority of his countrymen he has for a long time been hardly more than a name. His merciless scrutiny of...

(The entire section is 4368 words.)

Charles A. Bennett (essay date 1931)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Bennett, Charles A. “Symbolical Theories: Feuerbach.” In The Dilemma of Religious Knowledge, edited by William Ernest Hocking, pp. 27-48. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1931.

[In the following excerpt, Bennett explicates Feuerbach's interpretation of religion, particularly his contention that the infinite should be associated with humanity as opposed to God, and comments on the modernity of this view as well as its limitations.]

Let me resume in a few words the statement of our problem as we have now reached it. Religion deals with the supernatural, which is claimed to be an objective reality; the supernatural, however, is mysterious,—it constitutes a...

(The entire section is 6050 words.)

Charles N. R. McCoy (essay date 1963)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: McCoy, Charles N. R. “Ludwig Feuerbach and the Humanist Critique of Philosophy.” In The Structure of Political Thought: A Study in the History of Political Ideas, pp. 269-90. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1963.

[In the following essay, McCoy considers Feuerbach's work as a transitional step between the thought of Hegel and Marx, and evaluates the cogency of his naturalist-humanist critique of philosophy.]

The elements of a true critique of political economy and philosophy would have to penetrate Hegel's “mystical allure” and resolve “the absolute metaphysical spirit into the real man standing on the foundation of nature.” This was the...

(The entire section is 8294 words.)

Patrick Masterson (essay date 1971)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Masterson, Patrick. “Feuerbach and the Apotheosis of Man.” In Atheism and Alienation: A Study of the Philosophical Sources of Contemporary Atheism, pp. 63-78. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1971.

[In the following excerpt, Masterson discusses the means by which Feuerbach, in his critique of religion, laid the groundwork for a contemporary, atheistic worldview.]

Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872) commenced his academic career as a student of Protestant theology at the University of Heidelberg. Subsequently he transferred to the University of Berlin where he became an enthusiastic disciple of Hegel whose lectures he regularly attended. Eventually, however, his...

(The entire section is 5342 words.)

Robert Banks (essay date January-March 1972)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Banks, Robert. “Ludwig Feuerbach: Still ‘A Thorn in the Flesh of Modern Theology’?” Evangelical Quarterly 44, no. 1 (January-March 1972): 30-46.

[In the following essay, Banks probes Feuerbach's continued influence on contemporary Christian theology.]

In 1841, with the publication of Das Wesen des Christentums, Ludwig Feuerbach issued his dramatic and highly original reinterpretation of the Christian religion. In that work, which presupposed a broadly empirical understanding of reality and approach to knowledge, he developed by means of his theory of projection both a critique of religion, insofar as it created a realm in which man's innermost...

(The entire section is 7099 words.)

Peter Preuss (essay date 1972)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Preuss, Peter. “Feuerbach on Man and God.” Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review 11, no. 2 (1972): 204-23.

[In the following essay, Preuss argues that in The Essence of Christianity Feuerbach attempted and failed to surpass Hegelian philosophy.]


When Feuerbach published his The Essence of Christianity in 1841 it excited a “clamour” in the educated circles of the day, a “clamour” which apparently did not surprise Feuerbach nor cause him to back down from the bold thesis of the work. Rather it caused him “once more, in all calmness” to subject his work “to the severest scrutiny, both historical and...

(The entire section is 7507 words.)

Wladyslaw Tatarkiewicz (essay date 1973)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Tatarkiewicz, Wladyslaw. “Feuerbach and Naturalism.” In Nineteenth Century Philosophy, translated by Chester A. Kisiel, pp. 50-56. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1973.

[In the following excerpt, Tatarkiewicz surveys the position of Feuerbach's thought in relation to naturalism, German idealism, and materialism.]

In Germany after 1830 there was … a change in philosophy. The forerunner of these new trends was Ludwig Feuerbach. Just as Comte and Mill had done, he abandoned transcendental theories in philosophy, metaphysics, and idealism to initiate a minimalistic trend. But conditions in Germany were different from those in France or England....

(The entire section is 2194 words.)

Allan D. Galloway (essay date June 1974)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Galloway, Allan D. “The Meaning of Feuerbach.” British Journal of Sociology 25, no. 2 (June 1974): 135-49.

[In the following lecture, Galloway questions some of the more reductive assessments of Feuerbach's philosophy and emphasizes Feuerbach's efforts to locate a continuity between the human and natural sciences in his Principles of the Philosophy of the Future.]

May I first of all thank the Hobhouse Memorial Trust Committee for the honour they have done me in inviting me to give this lecture. It is an invitation which beckons a mere theologian towards the boundaries of his own subject in honour of a scholar whose interest in the human scene knew almost no...

(The entire section is 6811 words.)

James A. Massey (essay date October 1976)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Massey, James A. “Feuerbach and Religious Individualism.” Journal of Religion 56, no. 4 (October 1976): 366-81.

[In the following essay, Massey examines Feuerbach's theory of human mortality as delineated in his Thoughts on Death and Immortality and his critique of religion in The Essence of Christianity, maintaining that Karl Barth's influential theological refutation of Feuerbach adequately responds to the latter but not the former.]


The renewed assessment of Ludwig Feuerbach in the last three decades has resulted in a general consensus as to the content of his central religious-philosophical positions....

(The entire section is 7874 words.)

Marx W. Wartofsky (essay date 1977)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Wartofsky, Marx W. “Early Hegelian Epistemology: The Dissertation.” In Feuerbach, pp. 28-48. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977.

[In the following excerpt from his full-length study of Feuerbach's philosophy, Wartofsky asserts that Feuerbach's dissertation De ratione, una, universali, infinita defines the initial position of his thought while foreshadowing later developments, including a future break with the rationalist-idealist mode of Hegel.]

Feuerbach's Dissertation,1 though it is a thoroughly Hegelian exercise, is significant in the suggestions it already bears of themes he is to develop later. Two readings of the...

(The entire section is 10370 words.)

Charles Taylor (review date 6 January 1978)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Taylor, Charles. “Feuerbach and the Roots of Materialism.”1Political Studies 26, no. 3 (September 1978): 417-21.

[In the following review, originally broadcast on January 6, 1978, Taylor reviews Marx W. Wartofsky's influential work Feuerbach, and suggests that Feuerbach should not be seen as merely a transitional figure between Hegel and Marx.]

Feuerbach is one of those figures who appears again and again in the footnotes and introductory paragraphs of works on other philosophers, but is very rarely studied for himself. Everyone knows him as a transition figure: principally as the most important of the ‘young Hegelians’ of the 1840s...

(The entire section is 3126 words.)

Francis Schuessler Fiorenza (essay date winter 1979-80)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Fiorenza, Francis Schuessler. “Feuerbach's Interpretation of Religion and Christianity.” Philosophical Forum 11, no. 2 (winter 1979-80): 161-81.

[In the following essay, Fiorenza concentrates on Feuerbach's response to criticism of The Essence of Christianity, arguing that the philosopher clarified his views and arguments on religion in the work's second edition.]

Although Feuerbach's Essence of Christianity has contributed significantly to the development of a post-idealist philosophy, its interpretation has remained controversial. This paper seeks to interpret The Essence of Christianity by focusing on Feuerbach's understanding of...

(The entire section is 8659 words.)

Howard W. Bischoff (essay date March 1985)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Bischoff, Howard W. “Ludwig Feuerbach's Concept of the Alienation of Human Essence Through Religion.” Journal of Evolutionary Psychology 6, no. 1-2 (March 1985): 28-32.

[In the following essay, Bischoff summarizes the aim of The Essence of Christianity, maintaining that the work is not so much a condemnation of Christianity as an effort to find a more human-oriented faith.]

The German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach, lived from 1804 to 1872. From a modern historical perspective, Feuerbach may be seen as effecting the transition from the speculation of German Idealism, as exemplified by Hegel, to the revolutionary activism of Marx. Feuerbach's emphasis...

(The entire section is 2216 words.)

Kit R. Christensen (essay date September 1985)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Christensen, Kit R. “Individuation and Commonality in Feuerbach's ‘Philosophy of Man.’” Interpretation 13, no. 3 (September 1985): 335-57.

[In the following essay, Christensen delves into Feuerbach's fundamental assertion that human essence is found in community, and his depiction of “the dialectical interplay between commonality and self-individuation.”]

The place of Ludwig Feuerbach in European intellectual history is usually understood, appropriately, in light of his concomitant aims of critically reformulating Hegelian philosophy on a materialistic basis, and exposing the “anthropological essence” of religious belief. Feuerbach himself...

(The entire section is 12113 words.)

Rodney Taylor (essay date spring 1993)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Taylor, Rodney. “Ludwig Feuerbach on Being as Death.” Michigan Germanic Studies 19, no. 1 (spring 1993): 46-61.

[In the following essay, Taylor traces the influence of Spinozan metaphysics on the conception of death outlined in Feuerbach's treatise Thoughts on Death and Immortality.]


In a late essay, Max Scheler points to the vast influence of Benedictus de Spinoza (1632-1677) on the thought and literature of German-speaking countries during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.1 Echoing Scheler's view, Wulf Koepke stresses that important aspects of this influence have received inadequate scholarly...

(The entire section is 5924 words.)