Feuerbach: The Roots of the Socialist Philosophy

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Cosimo, Inc., Jan 1, 2008 - Philosophy - 144 pages
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Feuerbachs idealism consists in this, that he does not simply take for granted the mutual and reciprocal feelings of men for one another such as sexual love, friendship, compassion, self-sacrifice, etc., but declares that they would come to their full realization for the first time as soon as they were consecrated under the name of religion. The main fact for him is not that these purely human relations exist, but that they will be conceived of as the new true religion. from Chapter III In 1841, German philosopher and anthropologist Ludwig Feuerbach published The Essence of Christianity (also available from Cosimo), a rationalist exploration of concepts of God and religion. It exerted a profound influence on Karl Marx, who incorporated some of its ideas into the atheistic, socialist philosophies of The Communist Manifesto a few years later. But Marx and his Manifesto coauthor, German philosopher FRIEDRICH ENGELS (18201895), did not see entirely eye to eye with Feuerbachthey had a particular bone to pick with his inconsistencies on materialismand in 1888, Engels published this pamphlet to explain where their thoughts diverged. This 1903 translation of that German original is an invaluable artifact of lively academic debates of the day, and a vital component for modern students of political and religious philosophies to understanding the 19th-century roots of both.

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About the author (2008)

Friedrich Engels is perhaps best remembered as the confidant, colleague, and benefactor of Karl Marx. Engels was born into a Calvinist family on November 28, 1820. The family owned fabric mills in the Rhineland and had business interests in Manchester, England, Engels joined the family business at age 16; he never had a formal university education. Despite his family's industrial background, Engels was sympathetic to the poverty of the working masses. At age 18 he published an attack on industrial poverty, and later joined the Hegelian movement that so influenced Marx and bothered conservative Prussian authorities. Engels first met Marx in 1842, while Marx was editor of a radical newspaper in Cologne. However, they did not establish their lifelong friendship until they met again in Paris two years later. Engels published several works related to economics, the first of which, Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy (1844), attempted to reconcile Hegelian philosophy with the principles of political economy. His second book, The Condition of the Working Class in England (1845), was a damning description and condemnation of the poverty generated by the Industrial Revolution. Engels also co-authored three major works with Marx, the most important being the Communist Manifesto (1948). Engels also wrote several historical works, which are more important to historians than to economists. These include The Peasant War in Germany (1850), Germany: Revolution and Counter-Revolution (1851), and The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884). In general, these works are more descriptive than theoretical, and they closely parallel Marx's views on industrialization and class struggle. In addition to being a friend of Marx, Engels was his prime benefactor for a number of years. During their early years in London, beginning in 1849, the Marx family was nearly destitute, and it was only through the generosity of Engels that they prevailed. Engels was also responsible for the publication of Marx's Das Kapital. Before his death, Marx was only able to complete the first volume of this work, and so Engels edited and arranged for the publication of the last two volumes after Marx's death. Engels was an engaging and thoughtful writer. It was perhaps his great fortune and misfortune that he was connected so closely to Marx. On the one hand, he was responsible for bringing much of Marx's work to fruition in his role as benefactor and editor. On the other hand, the shadow of Marx eclipsed some of the exposure that Engels's own ideas and contributions might have had. Engels died of throat cancer in London, 1895. Following cremation at Woking Crematorium, his ashes were scattered off Beachy Head, near Eastbourne as he had requested.

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