Provisional Theses for the Reformation of Philosophy

Ludwig Feuerbach, 1842


The secret of theology is anthropology, but the secret of speculative philosophy is theology, the speculative theology. Speculative theology distinguishes itself from ordinary theology by the fact that it transfers the divine essence into this world. That is, speculative theology envisions, determines, and realizes in this world the divine essence transported by ordinary theology out of fear and ignorance into another world.


Spinoza is the originator of speculative philosophy, Schelling its restorer, Hegel its perfecter.


Pantheism is the necessary consequence of theology (or of theism). It is consistent theology. Atheism is the necessary consequence of pantheism. It is consistent pantheism.1


1 These theological characterizations are used here only in the sense of trivial nicknames. [What follows this sentence is deleted from this footnote in the second edition. (Tr.)] In themselves they are false. As little as Spinoza’s and Hegel’s philosophy is pantheism (pantheism is an orientalism) is the new philosophy atheism. Concerning the transition from the half-way to the complete theology, i.e., to pantheism, see §112 of my History of Philosophy from Bacon to Spinoza.


‘Christianity is the contradiction of polytheism and monotheism. Pantheism is monotheism with the predicate of polytheism. That is, pantheism makes the independent entities of polytheism into predicates or attributes of one independent entity. Thus Spinoza makes thinking, as the quintessence of thinking things, and matter, as the quintessence of extended things, into attributes of the substance, i.e., of God. God is a thinking thing and God is an extended thing.


The philosophy of identity differed from the Spinozist philosophy only by the fact that it animated the dead, phlegmatic thing that is Spinoza’s substance with the spirit of idealism. Hegel in particular made the activity of the self, the power of distinguishing itself, and [157] the consciousness of the self into the attribute of the substance. Hegel’s paradoxical assertion: ‘the consciousness of God is God’s self-consciousness’ rests upon the same foundation as Spinoza’s paradoxical assertion: ‘extension or matter is an attribute of substance’. Hegel’s assertion only means that self-consciousness is an attribute of the substance or of God: God is I. The consciousness, which the theist attributes to God in distinction from actual consciousness, is only a representation without reality. However, Spinoza’s assertion, ‘matter is an attribute of substance’ expresses only that matter is a substantial and divine essentiality; must [→ just] as Hegel’s assertion expresses only that consciousness is a divine essence.


The method of the reformatory critique of speculative philosophy in general does not differ from the critique already applied in the philosophy of religion. We only need always make the predicate into the subject and thus, as the subject, into the object and principle. Hence we need only invert speculative philosophy and then have the unmasked, pure, bare truth.


Atheism is the inverted pantheism.


Pantheism is the negation of theology from the standpoint of theology.


Just as for Spinoza (Ethics, Part I, Definition 3 and Proposition 10) the attribute or predicate of the substance is the substance itself, so also for Hegel the predicate of the absolute, of the subject in general, is the subject itself The absolute is for Hegel being, essence and concept (spirit, self-consciousness). However, the absolute, thought only as being, is nothing other than being. The absolute, insofar as it is thought under this or that determinacy or category, is completely absorbed into this category or determinacy, so that apart from that determinacy it is a mere name. Yet in spite of this, the absolute as the subject still lies at the basis. The true subject, the determination by means of which the absolute is not a mere name but something, still has the significance of a mere predicate, just like the attribute for Spinoza.


The absolute or infinite of speculative philosophy is, psychologically considered, nothing other than something not determined, the indeterminate – the abstraction from everything determined, sup­posed as an essence distinguished from this abstraction but at the same time re-identified with it. Historically considered, however, it is nothing other than the old theological-metaphysical entity or non-entity which is not finite, not human, not material, not determined and not created – the pre-worldly nothing, supposed as act. [158]


The Hegelian logic is the theology brought to reason and brought up to date, theology rendered as logic. As the divine essence of theology is the ideal or abstract embodiment of all realities, i.e. of all determinations, of all finitudes, so is the Logic. Everything on earth rediscovers itself in theology’s heaven. So also everything in nature rediscovers itself in the heaven of the divine logic: quality, quantity, measure, essence, chemism, mechanism, organism. We have everything twice in theology, the one time in abstracto, the other time in concreto. We also have everything twice in the Hegelian philosophy, as an object of the logic and then again as an object of the philosophy of nature and the philosophy of spirit.


The essence of theology is the transcendent essence of the human being, placed outside human – beings. The essence of Hegel’s Logic is transcendent thinking, the thinking of the human-being supposed outside human beings.


Just as theology divides and alienates the human being in order then to re-identify the alienated essence with the human being, so Hegel multiplies and splits up the simple, self-identical essence of nature and the human-being in order, then, to mediate forcibly what was forcibly separated.


Metaphysics or logic is then a real, immanent science only when it is not detached from the so-called subjective spirit. Metaphysics is esoteric I psychology. What arbitrariness, what brutality to consider quality for itself or sensation for itself, to rip them apart into particular sciences as if quality were something without sensation or sensation something without quality.


Hegel’s, absolute spirit is nothing but the abstract, the so-called finite spirit, separated from itself, just as the infinite essence of theology is nothing but the abstract, finite essence.


According to Hegel the absolute spirit reveals or realizes itself in art, in religion, and in philosophy. In German that means the spirit of art, of religion, and of philosophy is the absolute spirit. But one cannot separate art from human feeling and intuition, nor religion from the heart and fantasy, nor philosophy from thinking. In short, one cannot separate the absolute spirit from the subjective spirit or essence of the human-being without placing us back in the old perspective of theology and deluding us that the absolute spirit is an other spirit, distinguished from the human essence, a ghost of ourselves existing outside us.


The ‘absolute spirit’ is the ‘departed spirit’ of theology, a ghost still haunting the Hegelian philosophy. [159]


Theology is belief in ghosts. Ordinary theology, however, has its ghosts in sensory imagination, speculative theology in non-sensory abstraction.


‘To abstract’ means to suppose the essence of nature outside nature, the essence of the human being outside the human being, the essence of thinking outside the act of thinking. In that its entire system rests upon these acts of abstraction, Hegelian philosophy has estranged the human-being from its very self It of course re-identifies what it separates, but only in a manner which is itself in turn separable and intermediate. Hegelian philosophy lacks immediate unity, immediate certainty, immediate truth.


The immediate, evident, undeceptive identification of the human essence with the human-being, an essence alienated from the human being by an abstraction, cannot be derived in any positive manner but only by the negation in the Hegelian philosophy. In general, this identification can be conceived and understood only if it is conceived as the total negation of speculative philosophy, even though it is truth of the same. Everything, of course, is in the Hegelian philosophy, but at the same time always with its negation, its opposite.


The obvious proof that the absolute spirit is the so-called finite, subjective spirit and thus that the former cannot and may not be separated from the latter, is art. Art arises from the feeling that the life of this world is true life, that the finite is the infinite. It arises from the enthusiasm for a determined, actual essence as the highest, the divine essence. Christian monotheism has no principle of artistic and scientific culture in itself Only polytheism, the so-called idolatry, is the source of art and science. The Greeks elevated themselves to the perfection of plastic arts only because for them the human form was unconditionally and unreservedly the highest form, the form of divinity. The Christians first came to poetry when they negated Christian theology in practice and venerated the female essence as a divine essence. Christians contradicted the essence of their religion, as they imagined it and as it was an object of their consciousness, as artists and poets. On the basis of his religion Petrarch regretted the poems in which he had made his Laura divine. Why do the Christians not have, as do the heathens, works of art adequate to their religious images? Why do they not have a perfectly satisfactory picture of Christ? Because the religious art of Christians flounders on the pernicious contradiction between their consciousness and the truth. The essence of the Christian religion is, in truth, the human essence. Yet in the consciousness of Christians it is something else, a non-human essence. Christ is supposed to be a human being and yet not a human being. He is an equivocation. Art, however, can only present what is true, the unequivocal. [160]


Consciousness become flesh and blood, the resolute consciousness that the human is the divine and the finite the infinite, is the source of a new poetry and art which will surpass all its predecessors in energy, depth, and fire. The belief in an other world is an absolutely unpoetic belief. Pain is the source of poetry. Only someone who feels the loss of a finite entity as an infinite loss possesses the power of lyrical fire. Only the painful charm of the memory of what is no more is the first artist, the first idealist in the human being. But the belief in another world makes every pain an illusion, an untruth.


Philosophy which derives the finite from the infinite or the determined from the undetermined never arrives at a true position of the finite and determined. The finite is derived from the infinite – that means, the undetermined is determined, is negated. It is admitted that the infinite is nothing without determination, i.e. without finitude, that thus as the reality of the infinite the finite is supposed. Yet the negative non-entity of the absolute remains at the basis. The supposed finitude is thus suspended again and again. The finite is the negation of the infinite and the infinite in turn the negation of the finite. The philosophy of the absolute is a contradiction.


All predicates which make God as God real and which make God an actual entity, predicates like power, wisdom, goodness, love, even infinity and personality which have as a condition the distinction from what is finite, these predicates are first supposed in and with human beings. Just as in theology the human being is the truth and reality of God, so in speculative philosophy the truth of the infinite is the finite.


The truth of the finite is articulated by the absolute philosophy only in an indirect and inverted manner. If the infinite only is and only has truth and actuality when it is supposed determined, i.e. when it is supposed not as something infinite but rather as something finite, then indeed the finite is in truth the infinite.


The task of true philosophy is not to know the infinite as the finite but rather the finite as not finite, as the infinite. Or, the task is not to suppose the finite in the infinite but rather the infinite in the finite.


The beginning of philosophy is not God and the beginnings of the absolute is not the absolute, not being as a predicate of the idea. The beginning of philosophy is the finite,2 the determined, the actual. The [161] infinite cannot even be thought without the finite. Can you think or determine quality in general without thinking of a determined quality? Is not, therefore, the determined, rather than the undetermined, what is primary? For the determined quality is nothing but the actual quality and the actual quality precedes the thought of the quality.


2 I use the word ‘finite’ always and only in the sense of the ‘absolute’ philosophy. From the standpoint of the absolute what is real and actual appears to this philosophy to be something not actual and something insignificant. For what is not actual and not determined is valued by this philosophy as something real. Yet, on the other hand, from the standpoint of nothingness, what is finite and insignificant appears to be something real - a contradiction which emerges especially in the earlier philosophy of Schelling, but also still lies at the bottom of Hegelian philosophy.


The subjective origin and course of philosophy is also its objective course and origin. Before you think the quality, you feel the quality. The suffering precedes the thinking.


The infinite is the finite’s true essence – the true finite. Speculation is nothing but the truth [→ true] and universal empiricism. One of Hegel’s deepest and truest thoughts is expressed by him in his history of philosophy, although only accidentally, in the section on Aristotle: ‘The empirical, in its totality, is the speculative.3


3 [This last sentence beginning with the words ‘One of Hegel’s...’ is not in the second edition. (Tr.)]


The infinite of religion and philosophy is and was never anything other than something finite, something determined, yet mystified, i.e., a finite and determined something with the postulate of being not finite and not determined. Speculative philosophy has rendered itself guilty of the same mistake as did theology. The determinations of actuality or finitude are made determinations and predicates of the infinite only through the negation of the determinacy in which they are what they are.


Honor and honesty are useful in all things – even philosophy. However, philosophy is honorable and honest only if it admits the finiteness of its speculative infinity – admits, therefore, that the mystery of the nature in God, for example, is nothing other than the mystery of human nature, that the night which it supposes in God in order to produce from it the light of consciousness is nothing but its own dark, instinctive feeling for the reality and indispensability of matter.


Speculative philosophy’s procedure up to now, of going from the abstract to the concrete and from the ideal to the real, is a distorted procedure. People never come in this way to the true, objective reality but rather only to the realization of their own abstractions. Precisely for this reason people in this way never arrive at true freedom of spirit. For only intuition of things and essences in their objective actuality makes the [162] human being free and devoid of all prejudices. The transition from the ideal to the real has its place only in practical philosophy.


Philosophy is the knowledge of what is. Things and essences are to be thought and to be known just as they are – this is the highest law, the foremost task of philosophy.


To have articulated what is such as it is, in other words, to have truth­fully articulated what truly is, appears superficial. To have articulated what is such as it is not, in other words, to have falsely and distortedly articulated what truly is, appears profound.


Truthfulness, simplicity, and determinacy are the formal marks of the real philosophy.


The being with which philosophy begins cannot be separated from consciousness nor can consciousness be separated from being. As the reality of the sensation is the quality and, in turn, the sensation is the reality of the quality, so also is being the reality of the con­sciousness. But likewise in. turn the consciousness is the reality of the being. Consciousness is alone the actual being. The real unity of spirit and nature is simply consciousness.


All the determinations, forms, categories, or however one wishes to refer to it, which speculative philosophy has stripped of the absolute and expelled to the region of the finite and empirical, precisely contain the true essence of the finite, the true infinite, the true and ultimate mysteries of philosophy.


Space and time arc the forms of existence of every entity. Only the existence in space and time is existence. The negation of space and time is always only the negation of their limits, not of their essence. A timeless feeling, a timeless will, a timeless thought, a timeless entity are non-things. Whoever has not time in general, also has no time and no urge to want and to think.


The negation of space and time in metaphysics, in the essence of things, has the most deleterious practical consequences. Only someone who everywhere takes a stand in space and time has also tact and practical understanding in life. Space and time are the first criteria of praxis. A people which excludes time from its metaphysics and sacrifices the eternal, i.e. abstract, existence detached from time, as a consequence excludes time also from its politics and sanctifies the anti-historical principle of stability, a principle contrary to right and reason. [163]


Speculative philosophy has made the development separated from time into a form and attribute of the absolute. Yet this separation of development from time is a true masterpiece of speculative arbitrariness and the resounding proof that speculative philosophers have dealt with their absolute just as have theologians with their God who has all the emotions of the human being without emotion, who loves without love, and rages without rage. Development without time is as much as development without development. The assertion: ‘the absolute entity develops itself out of itself’ moreover, is a true and rational assertion only in reverse. In other words, it must mean: ‘only a self-developing entity temporally unfolding, is a true an actual, an absolute entity’.


Where there is no limitation, no time and no need, there is also no quality, no energy, no spirit, no fire and no love. Only the needy entity is a necessary entity. Existence without need is unnecessary existence. What is generally free of needs also has no need of existence. Whether it is or is not is not is one thing for it and another thing for someone else. An entity with no need is an entity with no basis. Only what can suffer deserves to exist. Only the entity rich in pain is a divine entity. An essence without suffering is an essence without an essence. An entity devoid of sensibility, devoid of matter.4


4 [‘Essence’ and ‘entity’ in this paragraph arc both translations of Wesen. (Tr.)]


A philosophy which has no passive principle within itself, a philosophy which speculates about existence without time, about determinate being without duration, about quality without sensation, about the essence without an essence and about the life without a life, devoid of flesh and blood – such a philosophy, like that of the absolute in general, as a thoroughly one-sided philosophy, necessarily has empiricism as its opposite. Spinoza, of course, made matter an attribute of his substance but not as a principle of suffering. Rather matter is a substantial attribute precisely because it does not suffer, because it is singular, indivisible, and infinite. For then it has the same deter­minations as the attribute contrasted with it, viz, thinking. In short, matter is one of Spinoza’s substantial attributes because it is an abstract matter, a matter without matter, just as the essence of the Hegelian Logic is the essence of nature and of the human being, but is itself without an essence, without a nature, and without a human being.


The philosopher must consider what in the human being does not philosophize, but rather is at odds with philosophy and opposed to abstract thinking. Thus the philosopher must bring into the text of philosophy what Hegel relegated to mere remarks. Only in this way [164] will philosophy be irrefutable and uncontested, a universal and irresist­ible power. Genuine philosophy thus has to begin not with itself, but with its antithesis, with what is not philosophy.5 This unphilosophical, absolutely antischolastic essence in us, distinguished from thinking, is the principle of sensualism.


5 Concerning this point, as in general concerning the philosophy of Schelling and Hegel, see my ‘Critique of the Hegelian Philosophy’ which appeared in the Hallischen Jahrbuchern (Sept. 1839), and was glossed over in the most flippant manner, which of course at that time was not to have been expected otherwise. [This footnote is missing in the second edition. (Tr.)]


The essential tools or organs of philosophy are the head, the source of activity, of freedom, of metaphysical infinity, and of idealism, and the heart, the source of suffering, of finitude, of need, of sensualism. Theoretically expressed, these philosophical tools are thinking and intuition. For thinking is the need of the head, intuition or sense the need of the heart. Thinking is the principle of the school, of the system; intuition, the principle of life. In intuition I am determined by an object, in thinking I determine the object. In thinking I am an I, in intuition a not-I. True, objective thought, the true and objective philosophy, is generated only from thinking’s negation, from being determined by an object, from passion, the source of all desire and need. The intuition yields simply the essence immediately identical with existence. Thinking yields the essence mediated by its distinction and its separation from existence. Therefore, only where the existence unites with the essence, the intuition with the thinking, the passivity with the activity, where the anti-scholastic, sanguine principle of French sensualism and materialism unite with the scholastic stodginess of German metaphysics, is there alone life and truth.


As is the philosophy, so is the philosopher and vice versa. The properties of the philosopher, i.e., the subjective conditions and elements of the philosophy, are also the latter’s objective conditions. The true philosopher, the philosopher identical with life and human being must be of Franco-German descent. Don’t be frightened by this mixture, you German purists! Already in the year 1716 the Acta Philosophorum declared such thoughts. ‘If we compare the Germans and French, then, of course, the latter’s mentality is quicker, the former’s more solid. One could rightly say that the Franco-German temperament is the most fitting for a philosopher. Or a child who has a Frenchman for a father and a German for a mother, must have (caeteribus paribus)6 a good ingenium philosophicum.7 Completely correct, only we must make the mother French and the father German. The heart – the [165] feminine principle, the sense for the finite, the seat of materialism – is a French disposition, whereas the head – the masculine principle, the seat of idealism – is German. The heart revolutionizes, the head reforms. The head brings things to completion, the heart sets them in motion. But only where there is movement, agitation, passion, blood, sensibility is there also spirit. It was Leibniz’s Esprit alone, his sanguine, materialistically-idealistic principle that first tore the Germans away from their philosophical pedantry and scholasticism.


6 [‘Other things being equal’ (Tr.)]


7 [‘Philosophical mentality’ (Tr.)]


Hitherto in philosophy the heart was considered the parapet of theology. Yet precisely the heart is the unreservedly antitheological principle in the human being. In the sense of theology the heart is the unbelieving, atheistic principle. For it believes in nothing other than its own self, the irrefutable, divine, and absolute reality of its essence. However, since separating and distinguishing into subject and object is the mind’s affair, the head which does not understand the heart transforms the heart’s very essence into an objective and external entity, distinguished from the heart. Of course, to the heart an other entity is a need, but only an entity like itself, which is neither distinguished from the heart nor contradicting it. Theology denies the truth of the heart, the truth of religious emotion. Religious affection, the heart, says, for example, ‘God suffers’. Theology, on the other hand, says, ‘God does not suffer’. That is, the heart denies the distinction of God from the human being and theology maintains it.


Theism rests upon the discord between head and heart. Pantheism is this discord’s suspension in a discord since it makes the divine essence immanent only as some thing transcendent. Anthropotheism is this discord’s suspension without discord. Anthropotheism is the heart brought to understanding. It articulates inside the head, only in the manner of the understanding, what the heart says in its own way. It supposes as an absolute essence the essence which the heart knows as an essential part of itself.8 Religion is only emotion, feeling, heart, love, i.e., the negation and dissolution of God in the human being. Thus, as the negation of the theology which denies the truth of religious emotion, the new philosophy is the position of religion. Anthropotheism is the self-conscious religion, the religion which understands itself. In contrast to it, theology negates religion under the illusion of positing



8 [This sentence is not in the second edition. (Tr.)]


Schelling and Hegel are opposites. Hegel represents the masculine principle of self-sufficience and of self-activity, in short, the idealistic principle. Schelling represents the feminine principle of receptivity [166] and of impressionability, in short, the materialist principle. (First he accepted Fichte, then Plato and Spinoza, finally Jacob Boehme.) Hegel lacks intuition, Schelling the power of thought and determination. Schelling is a thinker only in general, but when it comes to a thing in particular, to something determined, he lapses into the somnambulism of the imagination. For Schelling rationalism is only a disguise, irrationalism the truth. Whereas Hegel arrives at only an abstract existence, contradicting the irrational principle, Schelling arrives at only a mystical, imaginary existence and reality contradicting the rational principle. Hegel makes up for the lack in realism with bluntly sensuous words, Schelling with beautiful words. Hegel expresses the uncommon in a common way, Schelling the common in an un­common way. Hegel makes things into mere thoughts, Schelling makes mere thoughts, e.g., the aseity9 in God, into things. Hegel deceives the thinking heads, Schelling the unthinking. Hegel makes unreason into reason. Schelling, on the other hand, makes reason into unreason. Schelling’s is the real philosophy in a dream, Hegel’s is the real philosophy in a concept. While Schelling negates abstract thinking in fantasy, Hegel does so in abstract thinking. As the self-negation of negative thinking ‘and as the completion of the old philosophy, Hegel’s philosophy is the negative beginning of the new philosophy. Schel­ling’s is the old philosophy with the presumption and the illusion of being the new real philosophy.


9 [The word ‘aseity’ is simply a transliteration of the German ‘Aseität’, a derivative of the Latin ‘a se’ or ‘from itself’ The term’s origin is scholastic philosophy where it signified God’s utter self-sufficiency. (Tr.)]


Hegelian philosophy is the suspension of the contradiction of thinking and being, as in particular Kant had articulated it. But, note well, the suspension of this contradiction is only within contradiction, i.e., within the one element, within thinking. For Hegel thought is being, thought the subject, being the predicate. The Logic is thinking in the element of thinking or the thought thinking itself, the thought as a predicate-less subject or the thought as a subject and predicate of itself at the same time. Yet the thinking in the element of thinking is still abstract. Hence, it realizes and expresses itself. This realized and expressed thought is nature or, in general, the real or being. Yet what is truly real in this reality? The thought, which for this reason immediately strips itself of the predicate of reality once again, in order to restore its predicatelessness as its true essence. But this is precisely why Hegel has not come to being as being, to free and self-sufficient being, satisfied with itself. Hegel has thought of the object only as a predicate of the thought thinking itself. The very contradiction [167] between the existing religion and religion in thought, admitted in the Hegelian philosophy of religion, simply comes to this, that even here, as everywhere else, the thought is made into the subject, but the object, the religion, is made into a mere predicate of the thought.


Whoever fails to give up the Hegelian philosophy ,fails to give up theology. The Hegelian doctrine, that nature or reality is posited by the idea, is merely the rational expression of the theological doctrine that nature is created by God, that the material essence is created by an immaterial, i.e., abstract, essence. At the end of the Logic the absolute even comes to a nebulous ‘resolution’10 in order to document with its own hand its descent from the theological heaven.


10 [Cf. Hegel, Wissenschaft der Logik, ii, herausgegeben von Georg Lasson (Hamburg: Meiner, 1969), S. 506; Hegel’s Science of Logic, translated by A. V. Miller (New York: Humanities, 1969), p. 843. (Tr.)]


The Hegelian philosophy is the last place of refuge and the last rational support of theology. As once Catholic theologians became de facto Aristotelians in order to be able to combat Protestantism, so must Protestant theologians now become de jure Hegelians in order to be able to combat atheism.


The true relation of thinking and being is simply this. Being is subject and thinking a predicate [,] but a predicate such as contains the essence of its subject.11 Thinking comes from being but being does not come from thinking. Being comes from itself and through itself.


11 [The phrase ‘but a predicate such as contains the essence of its subject’ is deleted from the second edition. (Tr.)]


Being is given only through being. Being has its ground in itself, because only being is sense, reason, necessity, truth, in short, everything in everything. Being is, because not-being is not-being, i.e., nothing, nonsense.


The essence of being as being is the essence of nature. The temporal genesis extends only to the forms, not to the essence of nature.


Being is derived from thinking only where the true unity of thinking and being is severed, where one has already taken from being its soul and essence through abstraction and then afterwards again finds in the essence distilled from being the sense and ground to this, of itself empty being. In a similar way the world is and must be derived from God where one arbitrarily separates the essence of the world from the world.


Whoever speculates according to some particular real principle of philosophy as do the so-called positive philosophers [168]


Is like an animal in a field that is fallow

Led around in a circle by an evil spirit

While all around it lies a beautiful green meadow.


This beautiful green meadow is nature and the human being, for both belong together. Look upon nature, look upon the human being! Here right before your eyes you have the mysteries of philosophy.


Nature is the essence not distinguished from existence, the human being the essence distinguishing itself from existence. The essence not dis­tinguishing itself is the ground of the distinguishing essence. Nature, therefore, is the ground of the human being.


The new and only positive philosophy is the negation of [academic] philosophy, although it contains in itself what is true in the latter. The positive philosophy is the negation of philosophy as an abstract, particular, i.e., scholastic, quality. It has no particular and no abstract principle. It has no Shibboleth, no particular language, no particular name, no particular principle. The new philosophy is no longer an abstract quality and particular faculty. It is the thinking human being itself, the human being who is and knows itself to be the self-conscious essence of nature, the essence of history, the essence of states, and the essence of religion. This is the human being who is and knows itself to be the actual (not imaginary) absolute identity of all contraries and contradictions, of all active and passive, spiritual and sensuous, political and social qualities; the human being who knows that the pantheistic essence, which speculative philosophers or much more theologians have separated from the human being and objectified as an abstract essence, is nothing else but its own essence undetermined, but capable of infinite determinations.


The new philosophy is the negation as much of rationalism as of mysticism, as much of pantheism as of personalism, and as much of atheism as of theism. It is the unity of all these antithetical truths as an absolutely self-sufficient and explicit truth.


The new philosophy has already articulated itself as a philosophy of religion in a manner as negative as it is positive. People may simply construct the conclusions of its analysis into premises in order to recognize the principles of a positive philosophy. But the new philosophy is not interested in public approval. Certain of itself, it disdains appearing to be what it is. Instead, precisely for our time, a time in which the appearance is taken for the essence, the illusion for the reality, and the name for the thing, it must be what it is not. Thus do opposites complement each other! Where nothing is taken for something and the lie for a truth, something must consequently be taken for nothing and the truth for a lie. It is ironic that at the very [169] moment philosophy is involved in a decisive and universal act of self-deception, and people are making the unheard-of attempt to ground philosophy solely on the approval and opinion of the newspaper public, they have to try, in honorable and Christian fashion, to refute philosophical works merely by slandering them publicly in the Augsburg General News.12 Oh, how honorable, how moral are the public conditions of Germany?


12 [A reference to a review of Bruno Bauer’s Die Posaune des jüngsten Gerichts über Hegel den Atheisten und Antichristen in the Augsburger Ailgemeine Zeitung in December 1841. While Feuerbach viewed his own philosophy of religion as the result of opposition to Hegel’s philosophy, Bauer viewed his work as an explication of Hegel. Bauer’s work was published anonymously and after the publication of Feuerbach’s The Essence of Christianity. At this time some people considered Feuerbach the author or at least the inspiration for Bauer’s work. Thus a correspondent of the Augsburg newspaper writes about Die Posaune: ‘One needs only to have read a few pages in order to be convinced that this work in no way is opposed to Hegel. . . One needs then only read a few pages in the work by L. Feuerbach, The Essence of Christianity, in order to be convinced that one has encountered, if not Mr. Feuerbach, nevertheless a spiritual brother, scarcely to be distinguished from him.’ Angered, Feuerbach responded with ‘Zur Beurteilung der Schrift “Das Wesen des Christentums” in Deutschen Jahrbuchern, February 1842. Cf. Ludwig Feuerbach, Werke in sechs Banden, Band 3; Kritiken und Abhandlungen II (1839-1843), herausgegeben von Erich Thies (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1975), S. 351-2. (Tr.)]


A new principle always makes its appearance with a new name. That is, it elevates its name from a humble and lowly position to the princely rank, making its name the mark of the highest distinction. If people translate the name of the new philosophy, i.e., the name ‘human being’, with ‘self-consciousness’, then people would interpret the new philosophy in the sense of the old, placing it in the old perspective once again. For the self-consciousness of the old philoso­phy, separated from the human being, is an abstraction without reality. The human being is the self-consciousness.


In terms of language, the name ‘human being’ is indeed a particular name, but in terms of truth it is the name of all names. The predicate ‘πολυονυμοσ’13 is proper to the human being. Whatever the human being names and articulates, it always articulates its own essence. Language is thus the criterion of how high or low humanity’s degree of cultivation is. The name of God is but the name for what the human being regards as the highest power and the highest essence, i.e., the highest feeling and the highest thought.


13 [‘Many-named’ or ‘worshipped under many names’ (Tr.)]


The name ‘human being’ commonly signifies simply the human being with its needs, feelings, sentiments, the human being as a person, in distinction from its spirit, its universal, public qualities, i.e., [170] in distinction, for example, from the artist, thinker, writer, judge, as if it were not a characteristic and essential property of the human being to be a thinker, an artist, a judge, and so forth, or as if the human being in art, in science, and so forth were outside itself. Speculative philosophy has theoretically fixed this separation of the human being’s essential qualities from the human being and thereby deified purely abstract qualities as self-sufficient essences. So, for example, in Hegel’s Natural Law [i.e. Philosophy of Right], §190, it reads: ‘In law the object is the person, in the moral sphere the subject, in the family the family member, in the civil society in general the citizen (as bourgeois). Here on the standpoint of needs, the concrete entity of the representation is what people call a “human being”. It is therefore first here, so properly only here, that the discussion concerns the human being in this sense.’ ‘In this sense’, that is, even if the discussion concerns the citizen, the subject, the family member, or the person, in truth it is always a matter solely of one and the same essence, the human being, only in a different sense and in a different quality.


All speculation about right, willing, freedom, personality without the human being, i.e., outside of or even beyond the human being, is speculation without unity, without necessity, without substance, without foundation, and without reality. The human being is the existence of freedom, the existence of personality, and the existence of right. Only the human being is the foundation and basis of the Fichtean I, of the Leibnizian monad, and of the absolute.


All sciences must ground themselves in nature. A doctrine is only an hypothesis as long as its natural basis is not uncovered. This holds particularly for the doctrine of freedom. Only the new philosophy will succeed in naturalizing freedom, which formerly was an unnatural and supernatural hypothesis.


Philosophy must again combine itself with natural science and natural science with philosophy. This combining, based on mutual need and inner necessity, will be more lasting, more successful, and more fruitful than the previous mésalliance between philosophy and theology.


The human being is the Ev και παν14  of the state. The state is the realized, cultivated, explicit totality of the human essence. In the state the essential qualities or activities of the human being are realized in particular classes, but brought back to an identity in the person of the head of state. [171]


14 [‘One and all’ (Tr.)]


The head of state has to represent all classes without distinction. Before the head of state they are all equally necessary and equally justified. The head of state is the representative of the universal ) human being.


The Christian religion has combined the name of the human being with the name of God in the one name: ‘the God-Man’. Thus it has extolled the name of the human being as an attribute of the highest essence. In keeping with this truth, the new philosophy has made this attribute the substance, i.e., it has made the predicate the subject. The new philosophy is the realized idea, the truth of Christianity. But precisely by having the essence of Christianity in itself, it abandons the name of Christianity. Christianity has articulated the truth only in contradiction with the truth. The pure, unfalsified truth without contradiction is a new truth – a new, autonomous deed of humanity.



(Source:  L.S. Stepelevich (ed.) The Young Hegelians: An Anthology, 1983, pp. 156-171)

© Cambridge University Press


→ indicates corrected translation
Corrections: Andrew Chitty