Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-72), the German philosopher and a founding member of the Young Hegelians, a group of radical thinkers influenced by G. W. F. Hegel (1770-1831), was an outspoken critic of religion, and the 1841 publication of this work established his reputation. In the first part of the book he examines what he calls the 'anthropological essence' of religion, and in the second he looks at its 'false or theological essence', arguing that the idea of God is a manifestation of human consciousness. These ideas provoked strong reactions in Germany, and soon other European intellectuals wanted to read Feuerbach's book. The 1843 second edition was translated by Marian Evans (1819-80) - who would become better known by her pen name of George Eliot - and published in Britain in 1854. Evans was influenced by Feuerbach's work, and many of his humanist ideas about religion are reflected in her novels.
Preface to the second edition; 1. Introduction; Part I. The True or Anthropological Essence of Religion: 2. God as a being of the understanding; 3. God as a moral being, or law; 4. The mystery of the incarnation; or, God as love, as a being of the heart; 5. The mystery of the suffering God; 6. The mystery of the Trinity and the Mother of God; 7. The mystery of the logos and divine image; 8. The mystery of the cosmogonical principle in God; 9. The mystery of mysticism, or nature in God; 10. The mystery of providence and creation out of nothing; 11. The significance of the creation in Judaism; 12. The omnipotence of feeling, or the mystery of prayer; 13. The mystery of faith - the mystery of miracle; 14. The mystery of the resurrection and of the miraculous conception; 15. The mystery of the Christian Christ, or the personal God; 16. The distinction between Christianity and heathenism; 17. The significance of voluntary celibacy and monachism; 18. The Christian heaven, or personal immortality; Part II. The False or Theological Essence of Religion: 19. The essential stand-point of religion; 20. The contradiction in the existence of God; 21. The contradiction in the revelation of God; 22. The contradiction in the nature of God in general; 23. The contradiction in the speculative doctrine of God; 24. The contradiction in the Trinity; 25. The contradiction in the sacraments; 26. The contradiction of faith and love; 27. Concluding application; Appendix: 1. The religious emotions purely human; 2. God is feeling released from limits; 3. God is the highest feeling of self; 4. Distinction between the pantheistic and personal God; 5. Nature without interest for Christians; 6. In God man is his own object; 7. Christianity the religion of suffering; 8. Mystery of the Trinity; 9. Creation out of nothing; 10. Egoism of the Israelitish religion; 11. The idea of providence; 12. Contradiction of faith and reason; 13. The resurrection of Christ; 14. The Christian a supermundane being; 15. The celibate and monachism; 16. The Christian heaven; 17. What faith denies on earth it affirms in heaven; 18. Contradictions in the sacraments; 19. Contradiction of faith and love; 20. Results of the principle of faith; 21. Contradiction of the God-Man; 22. Anthropology the mystery of theology.
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