This edition of Feuerbach’s The Essence of Religion is abridged by translator Alexander Loos: three only out of the thirty lectures appear under this cover. This text is the earlier, denser, and more “philosophical” exposition of views that are enlarged upon in the later Lectures on the Essence of Religion. The abridgement is not divided into three lectures according to its source, but simply presented as a continuous text of fifty-five numbered sections.
In contrast to the author’s earlier books on Christianity, this one takes a wider, more comparative approach, and consequently offers two complementary theories regarding the nature of religious thought, which is nevertheless always a confusion of subjective and objective phenomena. The Christian type takes the subjective human ideal as an objective cosmic force, while its earlier and less “sophisticated” complement, as is found in ancient Greek pagan cults, attires the objective powers of nature with the human sort of subjectivity.
As always, Feuerbach demonstrates the sane approach to the simple fact that There is no god but man. He writes of the “spiritual” sort of religion championed by Christians: “As the life to come is nothing but the continuation of this life uninterrupted by death, so the divine being is nothing but the continuation of the human being uninterrupted by Nature in general—the uninterrupted, unlimited nature of man” (63, ital. in original). He also exhibits his rancor and contempt for the theological enterprise. He he shows theology straining at gnats while swallowing camels, when it tries to remove the supernatural element from sacramental rites, while retaining the supernatural in stories of cosmic origin. “But it is in the world of theology just as in the political world; the small thieves are hanged, the great ones are suffered to escape” (58). [via]
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