Ludwig Feuerbach

Ludwig Andreas von Feuerbach (German pronunciation: [ˈluːtvɪç ˈfɔʏ̯ɐbax];[3][4] 28 July 1804 – 13 September 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 Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud,[5] Friedrich Engels, Richard Wagner,[6] and Friedrich Nietzsche.[7]

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 historical materialism,[1] where he is often recognized as a bridge between Hegel and Marx.[8]

Ludwig Feuerbach
Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach
Born28 July 1804
Died13 September 1872 (aged 68)
Rechenberg near Nuremberg, German Empire
EducationUniversity of Heidelberg
University of Erlangen
(Dr. phil. habil., 1828)
Era19th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolDialectical materialism[1]
Secular humanism[2]
Young Hegelians (early)
Main interests
Philosophy of religion
Notable ideas
Religion as the outward projection of human inner nature
Signature
Feuerbach sig

Life and career

Feuerbach was the third son of the eminent jurist Paul Johann Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach, brother of mathematician Karl Wilhelm Feuerbach and uncle of painter Anselm Feuerbach.[9] Feuerbach's other brothers were almost all distinguished in scholarship or science:

He also had three sisters:

  • Rebekka Magdalena "Helene" Feuerbach von Dobeneck (1808–1891)
  • Leonore Feuerbach (1809–1885)
  • Elise Feuerbach (1813–1883)

Education

Feuerbach matriculated in the University of Heidelberg with the intention of pursuing a career in the church. Through the influence of Prof. Karl Daub he was led to an interest in the then predominant philosophy of Hegel and, in spite of his father's opposition, enrolled in the University of Berlin in order to study under the master himself. After 2 years, the Hegelian influence began to slacken. Feuerbach became associated with a group known as the Young Hegelians, alternately known as the Left Hegelians, who synthesized a radical offshoot of Hegelian philosophy, interpreting Hegel's dialectic march of spirit through history to mean that existing Western culture and institutional forms—and, in particular, Christianity—would be superseded. "Theology," he wrote to a friend, "I can bring myself to study no more. I long to take nature to my heart, that nature before whose depth the faint-hearted theologian shrinks back; and with nature man, man in his entire quality." These words are a key to Feuerbach's development. He completed his education at Erlangen, at the University of Erlangen with the study of natural science. He earned his habilitation from Erlangen on 25 July 1828 with his thesis De ratione una, universali, infinita (The Infinity, Unity and Universality of Reason).[10]

Early writings

His first book, published anonymously, Gedanken über Tod und Unsterblichkeit (1830), contains an attack on personal immortality and an advocacy of the Spinozistic immortality of reabsorption in nature. These principles, combined with his embarrassed manner of public speaking, debarred him from academic advancement. After some years of struggling, during which he published his Geschichte der neueren Philosophie (2 vols., 1833–1837, 2nd ed. 1844), and Abelard und Heloise (1834, 3rd ed. 1877), he married in 1837 and lived a rural existence at Bruckberg near Nuremberg, supported by his wife's share in a small porcelain factory.

In two works of this period, Pierre Bayle (1838) and Philosophie und Christentum (1839), which deal largely with theology, he held that he had proven "that Christianity has in fact long vanished not only from the reason but from the life of mankind, that it is nothing more than a fixed idea."

Das Wesen des Christentums (The Essence of Christianity)

His most important work, Das Wesen des Christentums (1841), was translated by Mary Ann Evans (later known as George Eliot) into English as The Essence of Christianity.

Feuerbach's theme was a derivation of Hegel's speculative theology in which the Creation remains a part of the Creator, while the Creator remains greater than the Creation. When the student Feuerbach presented his own theory to professor Hegel, Hegel refused to reply positively to it.

In part I of his book Feuerbach developed what he calls the "true or anthropological essence of religion." Treating of God in his various aspects "as a being of the understanding", "as a moral being or law", "as love" and so on. Feuerbach talks of how humankind is equally a conscious being, more so than God because humans have placed upon God the ability of understanding. Humans contemplate many things and in doing so they become acquainted with themselves. Feuerbach shows that in every aspect God corresponds to some feature or need of human nature. As he states,

"In the consciousness of the infinite, the conscious subject has for his object the infinity of his own nature."

Ludwig feuerbach
Ludwig Feuerbach

Instead, Feuerbach concludes, "If man is to find contentment in God, he must find himself in God."

Thus God is nothing else than human: he is, so to speak, the outward projection of a human's inward nature. This projection is dubbed as a chimera by Feuerbach, that God and the idea of a higher being is dependent upon the aspect of benevolence. Feuerbach states that, "a God who is not benevolent, not just, not wise, is no God", and continues to say that qualities are not suddenly denoted as divine because of their godly association. The qualities themselves are divine therefore making God divine, indicating that humans are capable of understanding and applying meanings of divinity to religion and not that religion makes a human divine.

The force of this attraction to religion though, giving divinity to a figure like God, is explained by Feuerbach as God is a being that acts throughout humans in all forms. God "is the principle of [man's] salvation, of [man's] good dispositions and actions, consequently [man's] own good principle and nature." It appeals to humankind to give qualities to the idol of their religion because without these qualities a figure such as God would become merely an object, its importance would become obsolete, there would no longer be a feeling of an existence for God. Therefore, Feuerbach says, when humans remove all qualities from God, "God is no longer anything more to him than a negative being." Additionally, because humans are imaginative, God is given traits and there holds the appeal. God is a part of a human through the invention of a God. Equally though, humans are repulsed by God because, "God alone is the being who acts of himself."

In part 2 he discusses the "false or theological essence of religion", i.e. the view which regards God as having a separate existence over against humankind. Hence arise various mistaken beliefs, such as the belief in revelation which he believes not only injures the moral sense, but also "poisons, nay destroys, the divinest feeling in man, the sense of truth", and the belief in sacraments such as the Lord's Supper, which is to him a piece of religious materialism of which "the necessary consequences are superstition and immorality."

A caustic criticism of Feuerbach was delivered in 1844 by Max Stirner. In his book Der Einzige und sein Eigentum (The Ego and His Own), he attacked Feuerbach as inconsistent in his atheism. The pertinent portions of the books, Feuerbach's reply, and Stirner's counter-reply form an instructive polemic. (See External links.)

After "1848"

During the troubles of 1848–1849 Feuerbach's attack upon orthodoxy made him something of a hero with the revolutionary party; but he never threw himself into the political movement, and indeed lacked the qualities of a popular leader. During the period of the Frankfurt Congress he had given public lectures on religion at Heidelberg. When the diet closed he withdrew to Bruckberg and occupied himself partly with scientific study, partly with the composition of his Theogonie (1857).

In 1860 he was compelled by the failure of the porcelain factory to leave Bruckberg, and he would have suffered the extremity of want but for the assistance of friends supplemented by a public subscription. His last book, Gottheit, Freiheit und Unsterblichkeit, appeared in 1866 (2nd ed., 1890). In 1868 he read the first volume of Marx's Capital and joined the Social-Democratic Party.[11] After a long period of decline, he died on September 13, 1872. He is buried in Johannis-Friedhof Cemetery in Nuremberg, which is also where the artist Albrecht Dürer is interred.

Philosophy

Essentially the thought of Feuerbach consisted in a new interpretation of religion's phenomena, giving an anthropological explanation. Following Schleiermacher’s theses, Feuerbach thought religion was principally a matter of feeling in its unrestricted subjectivity. So the feeling breaks through all the limits of understanding and manifests itself in several religious beliefs. But, beyond the feeling, is the fancy, the true maker of projections of "Gods" and of the sacred in general.

Works

  • De ratione una, universali, infinita (1828) (inaugural dissertation) (digitized by Google from the library of Ghent University).
  • Gedanken über Tod und Unsterblichkeit (1830).
  • Geschichte der neuern Philosophie von Bacon von Verulam bis Benedict Spinoza. Ansbach: C. Brügel. 1833. Retrieved 5 February 2012.
  • Abälard und Heloise, Oder Der Schriftsteller und der Mensch (1834).
  • Kritik des Anti-Hegels (1835). 2nd edition, 1844. University of Michigan; University of Wisconsin.
  • Geschichte der Neuern Philosophie; Darstellung, Entwicklung und Kritik der Leibniz'schen Philosophie (1837). University of Wisconsin.
  • Pierre Bayle (1838). University of California.
  • Über Philosophie und Christenthum (1839).
  • Das Wesen des Christenthums (1841). 2nd edition, 1848 (online).
  • Grundsätze der Philosophie der Zukunft (1843). Gallica.
  • Vorläufige Thesen zur Reform der Philosophie (1843).
  • Das Wesen des Glaubens im Sinne Luther's (1844). Harvard.
  • Das Wesen der Religion (1846). 2nd edition, 1849. Stanford.
  • Erläuterungen und Ergänzungen zum Wesen des Christenthums (1846).
  • Ludwig Feuerbach's sämmtliche Werke (1846–1866).
  • Ludwig Feuerbach in seinem Briefwechsel und Nachlass (1874). 2 volumes. Oxford. Vol. 1. NYPL. Vol. 2. NYPL.
  • Briefwechsel zwischen Ludwig Feuerbach und Christian Kapp (1876). Harvard; Oxford.

Critical reception

Unlike his countrymen, whose writings on these subjects are usually enveloped in such an impenetrable mist that their most perilous ideas pass harmlessly over the heads of the multitude, Feuerbach, by his keen incisiveness of language and luminousness of exposition, was calculated to bring his meaning home to the average reader.[12]

Influence

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were strongly influenced by Feuerbach's atheism, though they criticised him for his inconsistent espousal of materialism.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b Nicholas Churchich, Marxism and Alienation, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1990, p. 57: "Although Marx has rejected Feuerbach's abstract materialism," Lenin says that Feuerbach's views "are consistently materialist," implying that Feuerbach's conception of causality is entirely in line with dialectical materialism."
  2. ^ Robert M. Price, Religious and Secular Humanism – What's the difference?
  3. ^ Dudenredaktion; Kleiner, Stefan; Knöbl, Ralf (2015) [First published 1962]. Das Aussprachewörterbuch [The Pronunciation Dictionary] (in German) (7th ed.). Berlin: Dudenverlag. pp. 367, 566. ISBN 978-3-411-04067-4.
  4. ^ Krech, Eva-Maria; Stock, Eberhard; Hirschfeld, Ursula; Anders, Lutz Christian (2009). Deutsches Aussprachewörterbuch [German Pronunciation Dictionary] (in German). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. pp. 507, 711. ISBN 978-3-11-018202-6.
  5. ^ 1923-2015., Gay, Peter, (1988). Freud : a life for our time (1st ed.). New York: Norton. pp. 28–29. ISBN 0393025179. OCLC 16353245.
  6. ^ Wagner, Richard (1850), The Artwork of the Future, Otto Wigand, Leipzig, p. 7
  7. ^ Higgins, Kathleen (2000), What Nietzsche Really Said, Random House, NY, p. 86
  8. ^ Harvey, Van A., "Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2008/entries/ludwig-feuerbach/.
  9. ^ Harvey, Van A., "Ludwig Andreas Feuerbach", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2008/entries/ludwig-feuerbach/, Section 1.
  10. ^ Francesco Tomasoni, Ludwig Feuerbach: Entstehung, Entwicklung und Bedeutung seines Werks, Waxmann Verlag, 2015, p. 58.
  11. ^ Nürnberger Nachrichten, Wed. July 28, 2004, Kulturteil p. 1.
  12. ^ Blind, Mathilde (1883). "IV. Translation of Strauss and Feuerbach—Tour on the Continent". George Eliot. p. 47.

References

  • Van. A. Harvey, et al. Feuerbach and the Interpretation of Religion (Studies in Religion and Critical Thought), 1997.
  • Marxism explained: materialism John Minns at Socialist Alternative. looks at Feuerbach's influence on Marx and Engels. Accessed October 2007
  • Warren Breckman, Marx, the Young Hegelians and the Origins of Social Theory: Dethroning the Self, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999. [1]
  • Ludwig Feuerbach, “The Essence of Christianity” in Religion and Liberal Culture, ed. Keith Michael Baker, vol. 8 of University of Chicago Readings in Western Civilization, ed. John W. Boyer and Julius Kirshner (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 323-336.
  • Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Feuerbach, Ludwig Andreas" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  • Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872) - biography in Issue 103 of Philosophy Now magazine.
  • Higgins, Kathleen (2000). What Nietzsche Really Said. University of Texas, Austin, Texas: Random House, NY.
  • Wagner, Richard (1850). The Artwork of the Future. Lucerne,Switzerland: Otto Wigand, Leipzig.
  • Smith, Simon, Beyond Realism: Seeking the Divine Other (Delaware/Malaga: Vernon Press, 2017)

External links

August Hermann Ewerbeck

August Hermann Ewerbeck (1816 – 1860), known by his middle name of Hermann, was a pioneer socialist political activist, writer, and translator. A physician by vocation and a German by birth, Ewerbeck is best remembered as an early political associate of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, as a leader of the Parisian communities of the utopian socialist organization, League of the Just, and as the translator of the French writings of Étienne Cabet and Ludwig Feuerbach into German.

August Weger

August Weger (28 July 1823 – 27 May 1892) was a German graphic artist, steel engraver and printer.

Born in Nuremberg, Weger founded a graphic institute in Leipzig in 1840. Weger is still known today for his portraits of famous people such as Matthias Claudius, Friedrich Gerstäcker, Emil Scaria, Robert Schumann, Emil Devrient, Robert Blum and Ludwig Feuerbach.

Weger died in Leipzig at age 68.

Friedrich Feuerbach

Friedrich Heinrich Feuerbach (29 September 1806 – 24 January 1880) was a German philologist and philosopher. In the 1840s he played an important role disseminating materialist and atheist philosophy.

Influences on Karl Marx

Influences on Karl Marx are generally thought to have been derived from three sources, namely German idealist philosophy, French socialism and English and Scottish political economy.

Karl Theodor Ferdinand Grün

Karl Theodor Ferdinand Grün (German: [ˈkaʁl ˈɡʁyːn]; 30 September 1817 – 18 February 1887), also known by his alias Ernst von der Haide, was a German journalist, political theorist and socialist politician. He played a prominent role in radical political movements leading up to the Revolution of 1848 and participated in the revolution. He was an associate of Heinrich Heine, Ludwig Feuerbach, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, Karl Marx, Mikhail Bakunin and other radical political figures of the era. Though less widely known today, Grün was an important figure in the German Vormärz, Young Hegelian philosophy and the democratic and socialist movements in nineteenth-century Germany. As a target of Marx's criticism, Grün played a role in the development of early Marxism; through his philosophical influence on Proudhon, he had a certain influence on the development of French socialist theory.

Karl Wilhelm Feuerbach

Karl Wilhelm von Feuerbach (30 May 1800 – 12 March 1834) was a German geometer and the son of legal scholar Paul Johann Anselm Ritter von Feuerbach, and the brother of philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach. After receiving his doctorate at age 22, he became a professor of mathematics at the Gymnasium at Erlangen. In 1822 he wrote a small book on mathematics noted mainly for a theorem on the nine-point circle, which is now known as Feuerbach's theorem. In 1827 he introduced homogeneous coordinates, independently of Möbius.

Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy

Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy (German: Ludwig Feuerbach und der Ausgang der klassischen deutschen Philosophie) is a book published by Friedrich Engels in 1886.

According to Engels, the seed for this book was planted 40 years before, in The German Ideology written by Marx and Engels, but unpublished in their lifetime. The undertaking is performed to deal critically with German philosophy from a dialectical materialist position. Here Engels emphasized the importance of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Ludwig Feuerbach for their own theories.

Hegel's idealist, conservative system must be distinguished from his materialist, revolutionary method of dialectics. Feuerbach had turned to law against Hegel's idealistic system and "the fundamental question of philosophy": the relation of thinking and being. But Feuerbach rejected Hegel's dialectical method, which is why his view of man and nature remained abstract and unhistorical. Marx only kept the "rational" content from the dialectical method and freed it from their idealistic form.

Marx's theory of alienation

Karl Marx's theory of alienation describes the estrangement (Entfremdung) of people from aspects of their Gattungswesen ("species-essence") as a consequence of living in a society of stratified social classes. The alienation from the self is a consequence of being a mechanistic part of a social class, the condition of which estranges a person from their humanity.

The theoretical basis of alienation within the capitalist mode of production is that the worker invariably loses the ability to determine life and destiny when deprived of the right to think (conceive) of themselves as the director of their own actions; to determine the character of said actions; to define relationships with other people; and to own those items of value from goods and services, produced by their own labour. Although the worker is an autonomous, self-realized human being, as an economic entity this worker is directed to goals and diverted to activities that are dictated by the bourgeoisie—who own the means of production—in order to extract from the worker the maximum amount of surplus value in the course of business competition among industrialists.

In the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 (1932), Karl Marx expressed the Entfremdung theory—of estrangement from the self. Philosophically, the theory of Entfremdung relies upon The Essence of Christianity (1841) by Ludwig Feuerbach which states that the idea of a supernatural god has alienated the natural characteristics of the human being. Moreover, Max Stirner extended Feuerbach's analysis in The Ego and its Own (1845) that even the idea of "humanity" is an alienating concept for individuals to intellectually consider in its full philosophic implication. Marx and Friedrich Engels responded to these philosophic propositions in The German Ideology (1845).

Marxist aesthetics

Marxist aesthetics is a theory of aesthetics based on, or derived from, the theories of Karl Marx. It involves a dialectical and materialist, or dialectical materialist, approach to the application of Marxism to the cultural sphere, specifically areas related to taste such as art, beauty, etc. Marxists believe that economic and social conditions, and especially the class relations that derive from them, affect every aspect of an individual's life, from religious beliefs to legal systems to cultural frameworks. From one classic Marxist point of view, the role of art is not only to represent such conditions truthfully, but also to seek to improve them (social/socialist realism); however, this is a contentious interpretation of the limited but significant writing by Marx and Engels on art and especially on aesthetics. For instance, Nikolay Chernyshevsky, who greatly influenced the art of the early Soviet Union, followed the secular humanism of Ludwig Feuerbach more than he followed Marx.

Marxist aesthetics overlaps with the Marxist theory of art. It is particularly concerned with art practice, with the prescribing of artistic standards that are deemed socially beneficial. This materialist and socialist orientation may be seen to invoke (however problematically) the traditional aims of scientific inquiry and the scientific method.

Some notable Marxist aestheticians include Anatoly Lunacharsky, Mikhail Lifshitz, William Morris, Theodor W. Adorno, Bertolt Brecht, Herbert Marcuse, Walter Benjamin, Antonio Gramsci, Georg Lukács, Terry Eagleton, Fredric Jameson, Louis Althusser, Jacques Rancière, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Raymond Williams. Roland Barthes must also be mentioned here.

Not all of these figures are solely concerned with aesthetics: in many cases, Marxist aesthetics forms only an important branch of their work, depending on how one defines the term. For example, a Marxist aesthetic may be latent in Brecht's work, but he formulated his own distinct theory of art and its social purpose.

One of the chief concerns of Marxist aesthetics is to unite Marx and Engels’ social and economic theory, or theory of the social base, to the domain of art and culture, the superstructure. These two terms, base and superstructure, became an important dichotomy in The German Ideology (1846), which however was not published during their lifetimes. Likewise Marx's early Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844, which, though widely regarded as important for treating the themes of sensuousness and alienation, first appeared only in 1932 (the slated 1846 publication was canceled) and in English only in 1959. The manuscripts were therefore unknown to art theorists during, for instance, the often antagonistic debates on art in the early Soviet Union between the constructivist avant garde and the proponents of socialist realism. The controversy over the unusual design of the original documents adds another twist.Many theorists touch upon important themes of Marxist aesthetics without strictly being Marxist aestheticians, Joel Kovel, for instance, has extended the concepts of Marxian ecology which deeply implicates aesthetics. He is also a part of the struggle to bridge the space between Marx and Freud, which has Marxist aesthetics as a central concern. Current themes within the field include research on the effect of mass-produced industrial materials on the sensed environment, such as paints and colors. A strong current within the field involves linguistics and semiotics, and arguments over structuralism and post-structuralism, modernism and post-modernism, as well as feminist theory.

Visual artists, as diverse as Isaak Brodsky or Diego Rivera and Kasimir Malevich or Lyubov Popova, for example, for whom written theory is secondary, nevertheless may be said to be connected to Marxist aesthetics through their production of art, without necessarily declaring themselves aestheticians or Marxists in writing. Likewise, in this spirit Oscar Wilde, Dziga Vertov, Sergei Eisenstein, Orson Welles, Jean-Luc Godard, Pablo Picasso, Richard Paul Lohse, for example. Such a view could apply to many visual and other artists in many fields, even those who have no apparent and/or voiced connection to Marxist politics or even those ostensibly opposed; in this respect consider Anton Webern.

Probably it would be fair to say that two of the most influential writings in Marxist aesthetics in recent times, and apart from Marx himself and Lukacs, have been Walter Benjamin's essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, and Herbert Marcuse's One-Dimensional Man. Louis Althusser has also contributed some small but significant essays on art and his theory of ideology also impacts in this area ("Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses").

The field remains polemical, with camps of modernists, post modernists, anti modernists, the avant garde, constructivists, social realists and socialist realists all referencing back to an ostensible Marxist aesthetic theory that would underpin their art practices by grounding an art theory.

Marxist philosophy

Marxist philosophy or Marxist theory are works in philosophy that are strongly influenced by Karl Marx's materialist approach to theory, or works written by Marxists. Marxist philosophy may be broadly divided into Western Marxism, which drew out of various sources, and the official philosophy in the Soviet Union, which enforced a rigid reading of Marx called dialectical materialism, in particular during the 1930s. Marxist philosophy is not a strictly defined sub-field of philosophy, because the diverse influence of Marxist theory has extended into fields as varied as aesthetics, ethics, ontology, epistemology, theoretical psychology and philosophy of science, as well as its obvious influence on political philosophy and the philosophy of history. The key characteristics of Marxism in philosophy are its materialism and its commitment to political practice as the end goal of all thought.

Marxist theorist Louis Althusser, for example, defined philosophy as "class struggle in theory", thus radically separating himself from those who claimed philosophers could adopt a "God's eye view" as a purely neutral judge.

Marxist–Leninist atheism

In the philosophy of Marxism, Marxist–Leninist atheism (also Marxist–Leninist scientific atheism) is the irreligious and anti-clerical element of Marxism–Leninism, the official state ideology of the Soviet Union. Based upon a dialectical-materialist understanding of humanity's place in Nature, Marxist–Leninist atheism proposes that religion is the opium of the people, meant to promote a person's passive acceptance of his and her poverty and exploitation as the normal way of human life on Earth in the hope of a spiritual reward after death; thus, Marxism–Leninism advocates atheism, rather than religious belief.To support those ideological premises, Marxist–Leninist atheism explains the origin of religion and explains methods for the scientific criticism of religion. The philosophic roots of materialist atheism are in the works of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831) and of Ludwig Feuerbach (1804–1872), of Karl Marx (1818–1883) and of Vladimir Lenin (1870–1924). Moreover, unlike Soviet Marxism, other varieties of Marxist philosophy are not anti-religious, such as the Liberation theology developed by Latin American Marxists.

Prometheus Books

Prometheus Books is a publishing company founded in August 1969 by the philosopher Paul Kurtz (who was also the founder of the Council for Secular Humanism, Center for Inquiry, and co-founder of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry). Prometheus Books publishes a range of books, focusing on topics such as science, freethought, secularism, humanism, and skepticism. Their headquarters is located in Amherst, New York, and they publish worldwide. The publisher's name was derived from Prometheus, the Titan from Greek mythology who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to man. This act is often used as a metaphor for bringing knowledge or enlightenment.

Authors published by Prometheus include Steve Allen, Molefi Asante, Isaac Asimov, Jeremy Bentham, Rob Boston, Ludwig Feuerbach, Antony Flew, R. Barri Flowers, Martin Gardner, Guy P. Harrison, Sidney Hook, Julian Huxley, S. T. Joshi, Dr. Jack Kevorkian, John Maynard Keynes, Philip J. Klass, Leon Lederman, John W. Loftus, Joe Nickell, Friedrich Nietzsche, Mario Perniola, Robert M. Price, James Randi, David Ricardo, Nathan Salmon, George H. Smith, John Steinbeck IV, Victor Stenger, Tom Toles and Ibn Warraq.

Prometheus Books obtained the bulk of the books and manuscripts of Humanities Press International. It has been building and expanding this into a scholarly imprint named Humanity Books. This imprint publishes academic works across a wide spectrum of the humanities.

In 1992 Uri Geller sued Victor J. Stenger and Prometheus Books for libel. The suit was dismissed and Geller was required to pay more than $20,000 in costs to the defendant.In March 2005, Prometheus Books launched the science fiction and fantasy imprint Pyr. In October 2012 it launched the crime fiction imprint Seventh Street Books.

As of 2006, the company and its various imprints have approximately 1,600 books in print and publish approximately 95–100 books per year. Since its founding, Prometheus Books has published more than 2,500 books.

In 2013 Prometheus Books partnered with Random House in an effort to increase sales and distribution.

Religious alienation

Religious alienation is a term some use to describe how religion creates an impediment to human self-understanding.

The Development of the Monist View of History

The Development of the Monist View of History is the major work of the Russian philosopher Georgi Plekhanov, published in 1895. Plekhanov gives an account of modern social and philosophical thought as culminating in Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Karl Marx and seen through the materialism of Ludwig Feuerbach.Plekhanov wrote under the pseudonym Beltov and admitted to the use of the "purposely clumsy" name "Monist View" in order to deceive the censors of the Russian government. The book passed the censors and was legally published in Russia. The Development of the Monist View of History became a very popular defense of the materialistic conception of history. Vladimir Lenin would later comment that it "helped educate a whole generation of Russian Marxists." Friedrich Engels commented in a January 30, 1895 letter to Vera Zasulich that it had been published at a most opportune time. Tsar Nicholas II had just released a statement on January 29 (or January 17 under the old Russian calendar) that announced that it was fruitless for the Zemstvos, locally elected district councils, to agitate for any more democratic reforms in the Russian government. Nicholas II had decided to return Russia to the absolute Tsarist autocracy of his father, Alexander III. The elected Zemstvos, which formed a local government in the European sectors of the Russian Empire, had been initiated by Nicholas' grandfather, Tsar Alexander II in 1864. Under Nicholas II's re-initiation of absolute autocracy, the Zemstvos would become superfluous and basically be abolished. Engels expected this announcement would cause an upsurge in popular protest in Russian and Engels thought the timely publication of Plekhanov's book would augment that popular protest.

Later on February 8, 1895, Engels wrote directly to Plekhanov congratulating him on the "great success" of getting the book "published inside your country". A German edition was published in Stuttgart in 1896.

The Essence of Christianity

The Essence of Christianity (German: Das Wesen des Christentums; historical orthography: Das Weſen des Chriſtenthums) is a book by Ludwig Feuerbach first published in 1841. It explains Feuerbach's philosophy and critique of religion.

The mystery of faith

"The mystery of faith" and "a mystery of faith" are phrases found in different contexts and with a variety of meanings, either as translations of Greek τὸ μυστήριον τῆς πίστεως (tò mystérion tês písteos) or Latin mysterium fidei or as independent English phrases.

Theses on Feuerbach

The "Theses on Feuerbach" are eleven short philosophical notes written by Karl Marx as a basic outline for the first chapter of the book The German Ideology in 1845. Like the book for which they were written, the theses were never published in Marx's lifetime, seeing print for the first time in 1888 as an appendix to a pamphlet by his co-thinker Friedrich Engels. The document is best remembered for the epigrammatic 11th thesis and final line: "Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it."

Van A. Harvey

Van A. Harvey is George Edwin Burnell Professor of Religious Studies (Emeritus) at Stanford University. Born in Hankow, China, he served in the U.S. Navy (1943–46), and was awarded a BA in Philosophy from Occidental College (1948, Phi Beta Kappa). After attending Princeton Theological Seminary for one year, he received a B.D. from Yale Divinity School in 1951 and a PhD. from Yale University in 1957 in post-Enlightenment religious thought. His thesis was entitled "Myth, Faith, and History" and his thesis supervisor was H. Richard Niebuhr.Van Harvey taught at Princeton University (1954–58), Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University (1958–68), the University of Pennsylvania (1968–78), and Stanford University (1978–1996). He was Chair of the graduate program in religion at SMU and Chair of his departments at both the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford.The aim of his first book A Handbook of Theological Terms (1964) was to explain to laypersons the meaning of technical terms found in Christian theology, with special attention to issues dividing Protestant and Catholic theology. His second book The Historian and the Believer (1966) was concerned with the way in which "morality of knowledge" that informs professional historical inquiry poses problems for the believer and theologian who attempt to justify the historical claims of Christianity “on faith”, especially when historical inquiry is concerned with Jesus of Nazareth. Harvey argues that these problems have not been satisfactorily dealt with by modern Christian theologians. He pays particular attention to the theologies of Karl Barth, Paul Tillich, and Rudolf Bultmann. New Testament scholar Gerd Lüdemann states in a citation of this book that "I have long been more indebted to this than is evident from the number of explicit references" The third edition of 1996 contains a new introduction outlining his mature position on these issues.

One commentator has characterized Harvey's career after 1980 as having been transformed from theologian into skeptical student of religion. This change is reflected in both his articles and preeminently in his third book Feuerbach and the Interpretation of Religion (1995), winner of the 1996 American Academy of Religion’s award for excellence in constructive-reflective studies. This book argues that the neglected later writings of Ludwig Feuerbach dropped much of the Hegelian elements informing his better-known early work and created a more powerful theory for the origins and persistence of religion. Harvey compares this theory with several well-known contemporary social-scientific and psychological theories and judges Feuerbach's to be superior.

Harvey has been awarded an honorary degree in the Humanities from Occidental College, two John Simon Guggenheim Fellowships (1966 and 1972), a National Endowment of the Humanities Fellowship (1979), a Visiting Fellowship from Clare Hall, Cambridge University (1979), and distinguished teaching awards from both the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford University. He has contributed to several encyclopedias and reference works including the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Young Hegelians

The Young Hegelians (German: Junghegelianer), or Left Hegelians (Linkshegelianer), or the Hegelian Left (die Hegelsche Linke), were a group of German intellectuals who, in the decade or so after the death of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in 1831, reacted to and wrote about his ambiguous legacy. The Young Hegelians drew on his idea that the purpose and promise of history was the total negation of everything conducive to restricting freedom and reason; and they proceeded to mount radical critiques, first of religion and then of the Prussian political system. They rejected anti-utopian aspects of his thought that "Old Hegelians" have interpreted to mean that the world has already essentially reached perfection.

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