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Is Man's Wish the Father of the Gods?

Comments on the Theogony by Ludwig Feuerbach

(extended Lecture of June 18, 2003 by Helmut Walther
before the Gesellschaft für kritische Philosophie Nürnberg)

As early as at the beginning of 1848, Ludwig Feuerbach mentioned that he intended to collect the extensive studies that he had made after the publication of his sensational "Wesen des Christentums" [Essence of Christianity], "in einem besonderen Band niederzulegen, um Satz für Satz die historische Richtigkeit und Wahrheit meiner Gedanken zu beweisen" (thus, to collect them in a special volume in order to prove the historical accuracy and truth of his thoughts, word for word).  When he, from December 1848 to March 1849 held his "Vorlesungen über das Wesen der Religion" (lectures on the essence of religion) in Heidelberg, he already worked on this project.  However, only in the years 1851 to 1856 he completed this work at Bruckberg. The "Theogonie nach den Quellen des klassischen, hebräischen und christlichen Altertums" ("Theogony pursuant to ancient Classical, Hebrew and Christian Sources")  was published in 1857 as Volume 9 of the "Sämtlichen Werke" by the publisher Otto Wigand, Leipzig.

The purpose of this lecture is two-fold:  firstly, the basic precepts of the "Theogony" are to be presented in order to clarify why Feuerbach, himself, considered this book as perhaps his best.(1)

Secondly, I would like to make some comments with respect to Feuerbach's contentions, since his theses--in any event those that he presents in this book--explain the phenomenon of the "creation of Gods" respectively of religion, above all, subjectcively and psychologically, and since some factors that are important, particularly from an objective viewpoint, remain untouched.  

In contrast to Feuerbach, himself, several editors of his work found it rather "difficult" and "demanding"; Bolin and Jodl, for example, incorporated a great part of the quotes into the appendix in order to make the book somewhat readable and "popular". Perhaps that is also the reason why Prof. Sass, in his rororo-monography on Feuerbach refers to the "Theogony" only in one brief paragraph.(2)

I received a beautiful tribute to this work, in connection with the extended version on hand here, from and by Prof. Dr. Werner Schuffenhauer, the editor of the collected works of Feuerbach: "Die literarische Hochsprache, die differenziert-psychologische Analyse menschlicher Beweggründe, die Beleuchtung der ur-menschlichen Züge und Leidenschaften der antiken Göttergestalten – all das macht die "Theogonie" zu einem einzigartigen philosophisch-literarischen Kunstwerk" (Schuffenhauer expresses here that the heightened literary language, the differentiated psychological analysis of human motivations, the light that is shed on the basic human traits and passions of the ancient Gods, that all this makes the "Theogony" a unique philosophical and literary work of art).

His (Schuffenhauer's) edition -- see the image above--of the collected works(3) features again the entire text, as Feuerbach wanted it printed, yet he helps the reader by adding to it translations of many foreign-language texts, such as ancient Greek, Latin and Hebrew  (during his Ansbach years, the young Feuerbach had taken private Hebrew lessens from a Rabbi) texts.

In addition to the many "learned" quotes, the problem of the readability of this work also lies in a certain lack of systematic presentation of the text, since the author neither provides an introduction nor a conclusion, in which he might have first presented his intentions and afterwards summarized his findings, also, at first reading, one can not find a thread that might run through this work.  In order to illustrate this and in order to provide you with samples of Feuerbach's writing style in this work, I shall quote the beginning of the "Theogony", in which Feuerbach delves right into the subject, without any introduction:  


Achilleus’ Anger und Zeus’ Will

While theology finds proof in the in the parenthetic clause of the fifth verse of the first song of the "Ilias", 

that Homer made man's fate dependent on the will of the Gods, that the key to the "Ilias" is only contained in theology, anthropology--which paces along behind theology everywhere and, in its very doing so, is also a considerable step ahead of it--already sees the mystery of theology solved in its own, thus in an anthropological sense, in the first verses.  

After all, Homer does not begin, as he should have begun, if theology were right, perhaps with these words:  "Sing the anger, o Goddess, the anger of the ruler in the thundering clouds, Zeus, that pernicious one who evoked the unspeakable, (countless, endless) woe of the Achaeans  and who sent many brave souls of the sons of heroes to the Ais but who, himself, threw them to the wolves and birds as prey; alone thus was Zeus' will fulfilled"; no, Homer begins with the pernicious anger of Achilleus; thus before Zeus he sets Achilleus, before the of the God, he sets man's indignation. 

Achilleus, deeply enraged about the insult inflicted upon him by the supreme commander, Agamemnon, resolves to avenge himself on the latter by refusing to come to his aid against the Trojans.  Therefore, he turns to his divine mother Thetis and asks her to cause Zeus "to grant protection to the Trojans, but to force back to their camp by the sea the Achaeans, defeated, until they all have their fill of their leader, and also he, himself, the Atride, the prince of nations, Agamemnon, know the guilt, since he did not honor the best of the Danaers" ("I[lias]" 1,407 to 411). Thetis brings her son's desire for revenge before the throne of the Almighty with the words: "Father Zeus, grant only this request!  O, avenge him, thou Olympean, ruler of the world, Zeus!  Strengthen the Trojans with victorious power until the Achaeans have honored my son and have highly glorified him with honors!"  (Verses 507-9). And Zeus nods at her with his head as a sign that her request has been granted. "For never", he said, "is the word changeable or treacherous or unfulfilled that I have granted with my nod.  Thus spoke and nodded with black brows Cronion, and the Ambrosian locks of the King waved before his immortal head; the heights of Olymp arose"  (525-29). As is known, it is this moment which Phidias has embodied in his Olympean Zeus.  This moment, however is also that moment in which Zeus grants the wish of Achilleus--a tangible, vivid proof that the highest expression and act of divine power and majesty is not an act of negation but that of the granting of human desires.(4)

With this, Feuerbach is expressing his main thesis that appears in the book in various forms:

Man's desire is the father of the Gods.

or, expressed differently:

The Gods are the representatives of human self-love and fulfill human desires.(5)

In 1845, in his "Wesen der Religion", he still wrote: "Das Abhängigkeitsgefühl des Menschen ist der Grund der Religion; der Gegenstand dieses Abhängigkeitsgefühles das, wovon der Mensch abhängig ist und abhängig sich fühlt, ist aber ursprünglich nichts andres als die Natur. Die Natur ist der erste ursprüngliche Gegenstand der Religion, wie die Geschichte aller Religionen und Völker sattsam beweist"(The feeling of dependence of man is the source of religion; the object of this feeling of dependence is that, what man is dependent on and feels dependent on, but originally, it is nothing but nature.  Nature is the first, original object of religion, as the history of all religions of all nations proves abundantly.) (6) Contrary to this, in the Theogony, he writes: "Die Menschen sind die Wesen, welche begehren, streben, verlangen, wollen, wünschen; aber die Götter sind die Wesen, welche die Wünsche der Menschen zustande oder zu Ende bringen, vollenden, vollstrecken, erfüllen, ausführen, verwirklichen. ... Der bloße Wille, welcher ebendeswegen nur Wunsch ist, daß etwas sei oder geschehe, ist und heißt Mensch, derselbe Wille aber, welcher geschieht, durchdringt, siegt, Erfolg hat, ist und heißt Gott" (Men are the beings who have longings, who strive, desire, want; but the Gods are the beings who fulfill the desires of men, who complete them, execute them, realize them. ...  The mere will that, for that very reason, is only a wish, is, that something should be or happen, is and is called man, and the same wish, however, that is fulfilled, is victorious, is successful, is and is called God).(7) "In jedem Wunsch steckt ein Gott, aber auch in oder hinter jedem Gott nur ein Wunsch." "Zwischen Gebet und Wunsch ist übrigens kein anderer Unterschied, als daß das Gebet ein unmittelbar an die Götter selbst gerichteter, in Form einer Bitte ausgesprochener, daher mit Demütigungen und Ehrfurchtsbezeugungen, wenn es ein besonders wichtiger Gegenstand ist, mit Opfern, Spenden, Verbindlichkeiten, Gelübden verbundener Wunsch ist" (In every wish, there is hidden a God, but also in and behind every God, there is only hidden a wish.  Between prayer and wish, there is, by the way, no other difference that the prayer is a wish that is directed at the Gods immediately, in form of a request, thus with humiliations and expressions of reverence, and, if it is a particularly important matter, a wish that is connected with sacrifices, pledges, obligations, vows.)(8)

Attempts are being made (in the Theogony), by the citing of a multitude of passages from the "Ilias" as well as from the "Odyssey", by the citing of ancient Greek and Roman verses as well as by referring to sources from the Old and New Testament and from the Church Fathers.  This "Urphänomen der Religion" (original phenomenon of religion) is even described more closely in a particular chapter with the same heading: 

Aber welche Erscheinungen unter den mannigfaltigen und scheinbar regellosen Göttererscheinungen sind die ursprünglichen, über das Wesen der Götter entscheidenden? Offenbar die geistigen, innerlichen, wenngleich für den Gläubigen, sobald einmal die Götter fix und fertig sind, sich dieses Verhältnis umkehrt, die leibliche oder persönliche Göttererscheinung sich nicht auf den Götterglauben, sondern umgekehrt sich dieser auf jene stützt.

Der Inhalt der geistigen Theophanien, der Gebete, Opfer, Feste, ist aber zuletzt nur entweder Dank oder Bitte: Dank, Lob, Preis für erfüllte Wünsche, empfangene Wohltaten – Bitte um Erfüllung von Wünschen, deren Gegenstand entweder ein wirkliches Gut ist oder die Abwendung eines Übels oder, wie in den Sühn- und Schuldopfern, den Buß- und Versöhnungsfesten, die Beschwichtigung des göttlichen Zorns als des ursächlichen Übels. Aber dem Loblied geht das Klagelied, dem Dank die Bitte, dem erfüllten Wunsch der leere, bloße Wunsch voraus wie die Saat der Ernte, die Braut der Mutter, der Durst dem Trunk.
Der Wunsch ist die Urerscheinung der Götter. Wo Wünsche entstehen, erscheinen, ja, entstehen die Götter. (But what phenomena among the manifold appearances of Gods that are apparently not subject to any rules, are the original, decisive ones, with respect to their essence?  Obviously the spiritual ones, the internalized ones, although, for the believer, as soon as Gods are complete, this relationship is reversed, the physical or personal appearance of the God is not resting on the belief in God, but rather the belief rests on the appearance.

The content of spiritual theophany, of prayer, of sacrifice, of rituals, is ultimately either only thanksgiving or plea:  thanksgiving, praise for fulfilled wishes, received favors--requests for the fulfillment of wishes, the object of which is either a real subject or the prevention of an evil or, as in the sacrifices for the purpose of the relief from guilt, of the rituals and festivals for the purpose of repentance or atonement, the appeasement of divine wrath as the original evil.  But the song of praise is preceded by the plaintive song, thanksgiving is preceded by the request, the fulfilled wish is preceded by the empty, mere wish, like the harvest is preceded by sowing, the mother by the bride, the drink by thirst.  Wish and desire are the original appearances of the Gods.  Where wishes and desires arise, yes, there it is, where Gods are created.)(9)

Die Erscheinung der Götter ist nur da eine notwendige und ursprüngliche, eine ebendeswegen nicht nur poetische, sondern auch religiöse Erscheinung, wo sich mit Notwendigkeit ein Wunsch in der menschlichen Brust erhebt. ... bei jedem Anliegen, bei jedem wichtigen Schritt, den der Mensch tut, bei jedem Unternehmen, das über Glück oder Unglück entscheidet, entsteht in ihm notwendig der Wunsch, daß es gelinge, kommen daher die Götter, wenn auch nur im Menschen, zum Vorschein. (Only there is the appearance of the Gods an original one, one that, for this very reason, is not only a poetical one, but also a religious appearance, where, out of necessity, a wish is arising in the human breast. ...  with every desire, with every important step that man does, with every endeavor that decides over happiness or misfortune, neccesarily, in him, there arises the desire that he is successful, therefore, the Gods appear, but only in man.).(10)

In the 'Ilias', Feuerbach sees ample proof for this in the many sacrifices: 

Diese aus dem Dichter geschöpften Beispiele sind aber Beispiele aus dem wirklichen Leben der Griechen. Nichts begannen sie, nichts unternahmen sie – keine Reise, keinen Krieg, keine "Überschreitung der Grenze", keine "Einschiffung", keine "Landung" ... selbst keinen Wettkampf, kein gymnastisches Spiel, keine Jagd, keine Aussaat, keine Hochzeit, kein Gedicht, keine Rede, ..., kurz, keine irgendwie wichtige Handlung, selbst nicht die Öffnung eines Weinfasses, um den neuen Wein zu kosten ... –, ohne die Götter, sei’s mit, sei’s ohne Opfer, anzurufen, sich ihren Beistand, ihren Segen zu erbitten. Alles, sagten die frommen Griechen, muß man mit den Göttern anfangen, ... , weil sie die Herren ebensowohl aller friedlichen als kriegerischen Verrichtungen seien ... Dasselbe sagten, dasselbe taten die Römer. "Es ist", beginnt Plinius seine Lobrede auf den Kaiser Trajan, "ein schöner und weiser, von unsern Vorfahren eingeführter Gebrauch, sowohl Handlungen als Reden mit Gebeten anzufangen, weil ohne der unsterblichen Götter Beistand, Rat, Ehre ... die Menschen nichts auf gehörige und vorsichtige Weise begännen.

Woher kommt es aber, daß der Mensch bei jedem Werke, namentlich im Beginn desselben, die Göttermacht beansprucht? Die Voraussetzung, ja, der Grund jedes Unternehmens ist der Wunsch und die Hoffnung, daß es gelinge. ... Aber die Erfüllung dieses Wunsches hängt keineswegs nur vom Menschen, seiner Vorsicht, seiner Bemühung und Anstrengung, sondern auch zugleich von äußern Umständen und Bedingungen ab. "Zu allem Tüchtigen", sagt der Tragiker Ion, "gehört ein Drei: Verstand und Kraft und Glück" ... Nur unter der Bedingung, daß die äußern Umstände gerade mit meinen Zwecken zusammentreffen oder wenigstens keine unüberwindlichen Hindernisse da sind, gelingt mein Unternehmen. Nur das Wünschen ist ausschließliches Eigentum des Menschen, das Können, das Tun ist ein Gemeingut, an dem die Außenwelt ebensoviel Anteil hat als er selbst. Alles, was Sache des Willens ist, d. h., was der Mensch ... durch Bewußtsein und Bewegung zustande bringt, ist daher zugleich Sache des bloßen Wunsches, weil es möglich ist, daß seine Bemühung vereitelt, seine Kraft unterwegs gebrochen werde. In der Vorstellung dieser furchtbaren Möglichkeit, in der Herzensangst, die gerade beim Beginn eines Werkes, wo die Sache selbst nur noch Vorstellung, nur noch Möglichkeit ist, am mächtigsten ihn erfaßt, ruft er daher die göttliche Macht an, weil vor ihr diese peinigende Vorstellung verschwindet, sie ihm die Gewißheit von der Erfüllung seiner Wünsche einflößt; denn sie ist, was der Mensch nicht ist, aber sein möchte, kann, was er nicht kann, aber können möchte, weiß, was er nicht weiß, aber wissen möchte.

(These examples that have been borrowed from the poets, however, are examples from the real life of the ancient Greeks.  They began nothing, they undertook nothing--no journey, no war, no "crossing of the border", no "embarkation", no "landing" ... even no athletic competition, no gymnastic game, no hunt, no sowing, no wedding, no poem, no speech, ..., in short, no important action whatsoever, not even the opening of a barrel of wine, in order to taste the new wine . . . --, without calling upon the Gods, be it with, be it without a sacrifice, without asking for their help and their blessings.  Everything, said the ancient Greeks, has to be started with the Gods, ... , since they are the masters of all peaceful actions and all warlike actions ... The ancient Romans said the same and did the same.  "It is", Plinius began his eulogy on Emperor Trajan, "a beautiful and wise custom, introduced by our ancestors, so begin both action and speech with prayers, since, without the help of the immortal Gods, without their counsel and honor ... men would not begin anything in an appropriate and prudent manner.

However, how did it come about that man calls upon the power of the Gods in every action, and that at its very beginning?  This prerequisite, nay, the very reason of every undertaking is the wish and the hope that it may succeed. ... However, the fulfillment of this wish does not only depend on man, on his prudence, on his striving and lavor, but at the same time also on outer circumstances and conditions.  "Everything worthwhile," said the tragic writer Ion, "has three prerequisites: understanding, strength and luck" ...  Only under the condition that outer circumstances coincide with my purposes or that there are at least no insurmountable obstacles, will my undertaking be successful.  Only the desire is the exclusive property of man, the skell, the action, is a common property which is as much influenced by the outside as by himself.  Everything that relates to the human will, i.e., what man ... accomplishes consciously by his own actions, is, due to this, at the same time a matter of mere wishing, since it is possible that his striving might thwarted, that his strength might be broken along the way.  In contemplation of this terrible possibility, in the fear of his heart, that takes hold of him at the very beginning of an action, where the matter itself is only an idea, only a possibility, he, therefore, calls upon divine power, since in the face of it, this painful image vanishes, and since it fills him with certainty of the fulfillment of his wishes, since it is what man is not, but what he strives to be, since it is capable of what he is not capable of but what he wants to be capable of, since it knows what he does not know but what he wants to know.(11)

Such a tracing back of the concept of God(s) to desire, to egotism and to self-love of man leaves us somewhat dissatisfied, since by it, above all, nothing concrete is said where the images of Gods and changes to them actually have their origins.  David Hume once differentiated between two kinds of philosophers, the "anatomists" and the "painters".  The first undertake investigative dissections and painstakingly try to arrive at convincing reasons, contrary to which the latter want to convince man by means of  sensual glamour and by addressing man's passions.  While Feuerbach appears to promise us the first approach, he does, for the major part, not provide us with empirical evidence, but inundates us, his readers, with ancient examples of that which we would refer to as superstition, in order to support the thesis that was, even at that time, not entirely new, that at the root of man's faith in and prayer to (the) God(s), there lies his wish and desire. Feuerbach conjures up subjects and colors of all times in order to vividly illustrate his thesis and to present it in a variety of forms, as, for example, in the belief in immortality that is supposed to only have emerged out of man's desire for it: "Was aber der Wunsch will, das verwirklicht oder vergegenständlicht als wirklich seiend der Glaube" (What desire strives for, after all, is realized and takes on shape in real form by faith).(12)

By the same token, moral demands such as in the bible are only means for the fulfillment of promises, thus fulfilled wishes.(13) And even hell is considered a result of human desire--after all, it is always the other, the infidel, who is supposed to go to hell, the believer in hell, on the other hand, is doing everything in order to avoid ending up in this place.  

In any event, man's wish or desire is the "Ausdruck eines Mangels" (expression of a lack): "Der Wunsch ist ein Sklave der Not, aber ein Sklave mit dem Willen der Freiheit."(Desire is a slave of need, but a slave with the desire for freedom.)(14) Feuerbach, in Hegelian style: "Gott ist daher ursprünglich nichts anderes als der von seinem Gegensatz befreite Nicht-Mensch im Menschen, kein anderes Wesen, nur die andere Hälfte, die dem Menschen fehlt, nur die Ergänzung seines mangelhaften Wesens, seines im Widerspruch mit seinen Wünschen so beschränkten Tatvermögens."(Therefore, God is originally nothing else but non-man in man that has been freed from his contradiction, not another creature, only the other half that man is lacking, only the completion of an incomplete creature, a completion of his so limited ability to act, in contradiction to his desires.)(15)

Many 'theogenic' (thus God-producing) desires are now being listed:  The longing for omnipotence and eternity, Allmachts- und Ewigkeitssehnsucht, wnat and love, particularly one's own bliss and that of one's loved ones; fear and hope:  "Das religiöse Gefühl, wenn wir anders diesem unbestimmten Wort einen bestimmten Sinn und Platz in der noch nicht von gottesdienstlichen Satzungen und Gewohnheiten eingenommenen Brust des Menschen ausfindig machen wollen, ist nur ein negatives Gefühl, nur das Gefühl, daß er nicht allmächtig ist, daß er nicht kann die Sonne leuchten oder den Himmel regnen lassen, wenn auch Licht und Regen noch so notwendig sind zur Erhaltung seiner Existenz..."(The religious feeling,--if we, otherwise, want to find a definite meaning and place for this undetermined word in the heart of man that has not yet been filled with the rules and habits of religious worship--, is only a negative feeling, only the feeling that he [man] is not omnipotent, that he can not cause the sun to shine or rain to fall from the sky, no matter how necessary light and rain are for the preservation of his existence.)(16)

Also in the interrelationship of art and religion that is mostly to be observed, we are, in the opinion of Feuerbach, 

über dem prachtvollen Schauspiel, das der Donnergott am Himmel aufführt, nicht den gemeinen irdischen Nutzen des Gewitters, über dem olympischen Zeus des Phidias nicht den Müller Zeus, über Apollo, dem Musenführer, nicht den Apollo des Mehltaus, oder Kornbrands, über dem ätherischen Nektar der Götter nicht die durstige Kehle der um Regen zum Himmel flehenden Erde aus den Augen zu verlieren – nicht zu übersehen, daß die Götter nicht deswegen auf der Erde erschienen sind, um in Glyptotheken und Museen den Ästhetikern Stoff zum Bewundern, den Philosophen Stoff zum Denken zu geben, sondern um vor allen Dingen den Hunger zu stillen, den Durst zu löschen, kurz, der menschlichen Not abzuhelfen – nicht also zu verkennen, daß die allerersten und allergemeinsten Bedürfnisse und Triebe, die Grundlagen der menschlichen Existenz, auch die Grundlagen der Religion und der Götter, die allerersten, fundamentalen Bestimmungen der Götter die sind, daß sie die Menschen erzeugen, ernähren, erhalten. Götter, bei deren Betrachtung und Bestimmung man statt vom Menschen von Gott, statt vom Sinnlichen vom Übersinnlichen, statt vom Leibe vom Geiste, statt vom Leben von der Idee, d. h. einem willkürlichen, selbstgemachten Gedankenkonfekt, ausgeht, von den notwendigen und allgemeinen, freilich nach Ort und Zeit verschiedenen Bedürfnissen und Wünschen des Menschen absieht oder doch die sich auf sie beziehenden Attribute nur gelegentlich und historisch, nicht genetisch und prinzipiell erörtert, mögen wohl das luxuriöse Biskuitbedürfnis des modernen sogenannten religiösen Gefühls befriedigen; aber sie sind viel zu blasiert, eitel und kraftlos, als daß sie die heilige Frucht der Demeter hervorbringen, geschweige selber dreschen und mahlen könnten. [not to lose sight of the common earthly purpose of the thunderstorm in light of the glorious drama that the thunder god is staging in the skies, we are not to lose sight of the miller Zeus in light of the Olympic Zeus of Phidias, we are not to lose sight of the Apollo of mildew or of corn fire in light of Apollo, the leader of the muses, not to lose sight of the parched ground that is thirsting for rain, in light of the ethereal divine nectar--not to overlook that the Gods have not appeared on earth in order to leave behind material that can be admired in museums by the aesthetician or to provide food for thought to the philosophers but rather to, above all, to alleviate hunger, to quench thirst, in short, to relieve man's dire needs--thus, not to neglect to realize that, first and foremost, the most basic needs and drives, the basis of human existence, is also the basis of religion and of the Gods, thus also, first and foremost, the most fundamental purposes of the Gods are those that they create men, feed them and preserve them.  Gods, in contemplation and determination of which one, instead of from man, goes out from God, instead of from the natural, from the supernatural, instead of from the body, from the mind, instead of from life, from the idea, i.e. from an arbitrary, self-created thought concoction, where one disregards human needs that are, of course, different depending on place and time, or where one considers them, at least, only occasionally and historically, but not genetically and principally, may very well satisfy the luxurious tastes and desires of the modern, so-called religious feeling, but they are much too blasé, vain and powerless in order for them to bring forth the fruit of Demeter, let alone thresh and grind corn, themselves.]

Feuerbach draws his conclusion with a saying by Epiktet(17):

("where there is usefulness, there is reverence")

In his chapter, "Der Fluch" [The Curse], also the negation of wishes and desires by the Gods is related back to the essence of wish or desire, itself,  "weil sie, wenn keine Wünsche verneinen, auch keine gewähren könnten, denn es gibt unzählige Wünsche, die dem einen nicht gewährt werden können, ohne daß die Wünsche des andern versagt werden" (since they, if  they were not to negate (rather: refuse) wishes or desires, they could also not grant any, since there are countless wishes that can not be granted without the wishes of others being refused.)  In this, Feuerbach finds an opportunity to discuss revenge and punishment and thereby remember his father Paul Johann Anselm Feuerbach, the famous jurist, by extensively quoting his conception of law.(18)

He also demonstrates his sense of family by not forgetting to mention the main work of his brother Anselm Feuerbach who was six years his senior, namely "Der Vatikanische Apoll" (The Vatican Apollo) and, with respect to the depiction of dance as a sacred ritual (as we can still find it in Hinduism, today) refers to this work.(19)

Fluchen und Segnen, Wünschen und Verwünschen ist das einzige, was die Religion, was die Götter tun und vermögen. Wer das nicht einsieht, an dem ist nicht nur Hopfen und Malz, sondern auch Mose und die Propheten verloren. Denn womit beschließt Moses sein Werk? Mit Segnen und Fluchen. Und worin besteht zuletzt die ganze Tätigkeit der Propheten? In der Androhung überschwenglicher Übel und der Verheißung überschwenglicher Güter. Ja, Himmel und Hölle, gleichgültig, ob sie außer oder auf die Erde versetzt werden, sind die Worte, die den letzten Sinn und Willen der Religion offenbaren, die Worte, durch welche die Götter ihre Zaubermacht, ihre Herrschaft über die Menschen ausüben. Aber der Himmel ist nur die Anwünschung, die Verheißung aller möglichen Güter für die Gläubigen und Gehorsamen, die Hölle nur die Verdammung, die Verfluchung der Ungläubigen und Ungehorsamen zu allen möglichen Übeln. Nehmt den Göttern die Verheißung des Himmels, bestehe dieser Himmel auch nur, wie bei den alten Hebräern, in voller Gesundheit, vollen Ställen, vollen Keltern, und die Furcht vor der Hölle, bestehe diese auch nur in furchtbaren Krankheiten, in Unfruchtbarkeit der Weiber, des Viehs, des Bodens – und ihr nehmt den Göttern alle Kraft, alle Macht, zum deutlichen Beweis, daß die Macht der Götter nur die Macht des Glückseligkeitstriebes ist, der zwar auch, wie männiglich bekannt, ‚längst von der Philosophie widerlegt ist’, aber nichtsdestoweniger nach wie vor der König der Könige, der Regent der Welt, der Herr über Götter und Menschen ist und bleibt. (Swearing and blessing, wishing and cursing are the only things that Gods are able to do. He who does not understand that, is not only a lost cause in general but also to Moses and the Prophets.  After all, what does Moses conclude his work with?  With blessing and cursing.  And what does, after all, the entire activity of the prophets consist of?  Of threatening with extreme evil and of prophesying abundant rewards.  Yes, heaven and hell, regardless of whether they are set outside the earth or on the earth, those are the words that reveal the true meaning and aim of religion, the words through which the Gods exercise their magic power and their reign over man.  However, heaven is only the promise of all manner of blessings for the believers and the followers, hell only the damnation, the cursing of the infidels and unfaithful, to all manner of evils.   Take away from the Gods their promise of heaven, even if this heaven, with the ancient Hebrews, only of complete health, full stables, full winepresses, and if the fear of hell, on the other hand, only consists of terrible diseases, barrenness of women, of animals, of the soil -- by doing so, you take away from the Gods all strength, all power, to clearly prove that the power of the Gods is only the power of the striving for bliss and happiness, which, as is widely known, has 'long been disproved by philosophy', but which, nevertheless,  still is the king of kings, the ruler of the world, lord over Gods and men and remains so.)(20)

Das Schicksal über dem Menschen ist das Schicksal im Menschen; die Notwendigkeit, welcher er unterworfen, ist eine Gefühlsnotwendigkeit, keine kalte, sondern blutheiße Notwendigkeit, vor allem jene Notwendigkeit, die mit der Wirkung die Gegenwirkung, mit dem Angriff die Notwehr, mit der Beleidigung den Zorn der Empörung, mit der Blutschuld die Blutrache unzertrennlich verknüpft. Die Nerven dieser Notwendigkeit sind die Menschen, die Muskeln derselben die Götter, oder wenn wir beide unter denselben Namen bringen wollen, so sind die Menschen die Empfindungs-, die Götter die Bewegungsnerven dieser Notwendigkeit, welche das vom Menschen Empfundene mit der Außenwelt vermitteln und vollstrecken. (Fate above man is fate in man:  the necessity that he is subject to, is a necessity of feeling, not a cold, but rather a blood-hot necessity, above all, a necessity which combines, inseparably, counter-effect with effect, self-defense with attack, outrage with insult, blood revenge with blood guilt. The nerves of this necessity are men, its muscles are the Gods, or, if we want to name both by the same name, then men are the sensory nerves and the Gods the motion nerves of this necessity, connect and that which man feels and senses with the outside world and fulfill it.(21)

Feuerbach finds further proof of this sensual-emotional tracing back in man's conscience:  It is "... a concept that does not only reveal the lively ancient concept that personalizes everything or rather that seeks to embody everything, but that also reveals the sensualistic origin of conscience, itself.(23) It is the sensual image of the injured, it is the pain that has been inflicted upon him, which hurts the criminal, himself, after his deed ... out of spontaneous sympathy that can not be suppressed ..." "Das Gewissen ist der alter ego, das andere Ich im Ich" (conscience is the alter ego, the other ego in the ego.)(22) "Nicht nur der Glaube, auch das Gewissen ‚kommt aus dem Gehör‘, aber auch aus den Augen. Das Gewissen ist keine besondere ‚Anlage‘, überhaupt nichts Angebornes, sondern etwas Angebildetes, oft selbst mit vieler Mühe Eingebläutes" (Not only belief, also conscience comes from hearing, but also from the eyes.  Conscience is not a separate 'entity', not even anything innate, but rather something that has been formed, often inculcated with great effort.)(23) As can be seen from this fact, mostly, the individual--insofar, Feuerbach anticipates a Freudian thesis--is not aware of the real processes in his own inner self, and is confusing cause and effect: "Sinn hat für mich nur, was nach meinem Sinn ist; was meinem Willen, meinem Geschmack, meinem Interesse, [das] widerspricht auch meinem Verstande.... So reichen die Augen des Menschen nicht weiter als seine Wünsche und Interessen. Mit der wissenschaftlichen Kultur erweitern sich allerdings mit den Wünschen auch die Einsichten, aber doch gilt auch hier: Was der Mensch nicht mag, nicht ausstehen kann, dem kann und will er auch kein Recht, keinen Grund in seinem Verstande einräumen. Die Kämpfe der Menschen ... gegen neue Lehren und Einrichtungen, die ihren lieben, teuern Gewohnheiten des Denkens und Lebens widersprechen, beweisen dies augenscheinlich" (Only that makes sense to me which is according to my sense, that which contradicts my will, my taste, my interest, also contradicts my understanding....  Thus, man's eyes do not reach farther than his desires and interests.  With scientific culture, of course, with desires, also insights increase, but also here it still holds true: what man does not like, what he dislikes, he can not grant any right, no basis in his understanding.  The struggles of men ... against new ideas and inventions that contradict what is dear to them and what they are used to, in thought and in life, obviously prove this.(24)

In his chapter, "Tod und Unsterblichkeit" (Death and Immortality) – which title, of course, instantly reminds one of Feuerbach's first treatise which was published anonymously and which barred his university career path -- he mainly constructs a difference between Christian and ancient Greek religion, as it could be found in Homer. The latter did not know a life after death of the soul, but rather, the ancient Greek hero found his immortality in his posthumous fame on earth.  In light of the facts, such a view is, in many respects, questionable, and thus it also provides the first opportunity for me to begin with my comments: 

First of all, the ancient Greek religious development is not different from that on other continents, appearances of the dead in dreams and belief in demons were as prevalent here as everywhere;  the Mycenaean burial objects  (precisely these graves could be the those of the "heroes" of Homer) are just as precious as those in Egypt and refer to an existence in the afterlife as does the coin in the mouth of the simple dead man.   Particularly during the eighth and seventh centuries B.C. we find precious burial objects in Greece, and only later did burial objects become simpler.  The maintenance of the burial sites of the dead was a main motivation for adoption, in order to ensure the peace of the souls.  The correct burial of the dead was the highest duty of the descendants (see, for example, the descecration of of Hector by Achilles in Homer's work, itself), and that up to and into the time of the classical tragedy  (Antigone). Pictorial representation of souls as small, winged beings can be found on painted vases of this time. 

Opfer am Grabe
Sacrifice at the grave

Hermes, der Totenführer, leitet die Seelen
in den Hades zurück.
Hermes, the guide of the dead,
guides the souls back into Hades.

Attic Vase Images

Also with respect to the ancient-Greek mysteries and secret teachings, we hear nothing from Feuerbach, particularly not with respect to the  Orphism that is connected to Dionysos and that bears a strong resemblance to the Buddhist teachings of reincarnation and that promises salvation in eternal bliss, as, for example, Pindar sang of it.(25) And, of course, Feuerbach knew the classic references to Socrates by Plato, when the latter, in his Phaidon and Phaidros not only tries to  prove the immortality of the soul but also mythically describes his concept of what would be the fate of the souls after death, which would depend on their outlook during their lifetimes.  This is certainly the reason why he has to sharply differentiate between the "Homerian" ancient Greeks and the "Platonic" ancient Greeks. 

However, what did Homer, himself, write?  I only quote two passages from the Ilias: 

Zweikampf zwischen Hektor und Ajas
(Homer, ILIAS, 7. Gesang, 328-330)

Viele sind ja von den hauptumlockten Achaiern gefallen,
Deren schwärzliches Blut um den herrlichen Strom des Skamandros
Ares, der wilde, vergoß, daß die Seelen zum Aides fuhren.

Duel between Hector and Ajas
(Homer, ILIAS, 7th Strophe, 328-330)

Many of the the curly-haired Achaeans have fallen,
Whose black blood had been spilled at the glorious river of Skamandros
The wild Ares; so that their souls passed on to Aides.


Tod des Hektor
(Homer, ILIAS, 22. Gesang, 361-363)

Also sprach er, und gleich umfing ihn des Todes Verhängnis.
Rasch entflog die Seele den Gliedern, hinunter zum Hades,
Klagend über ihr Los, von der Kraft der Jugend geschieden.

Death of Hector
(Homer, ILIAS, 22nd Strophe, 361-363)

Thus he spoke, and instantly, the doom of death surrounded him.
Swiftly, his soul left his body and flew down to the Hades,
Bemoaning its fate, separated from the strength of youth.


Pallas Athene unterstützt Achill im Kampf gegen Hektor
von Bonaventura Genelli

Pallas Athena supports Achilles in his fight against Hector
by Bonaventura Genelli

Thus, also in Homer's concept, souls flew down to the Hades and there existed a fate "after death".  It appears to me, that here, Feuerbach is blocking out a great deal in order for him to be able to establish his contrast between the ancient-Greek and the Christian religion, let alone the circumstance that he actually does not question as to how Homer's statements on the Gods should be categorized, which he, after all, uses as examples and as proof, in many passages.  Can we use these poetic statements from the 9th and 8th centuries B.C., thus made after the decline of the Mycenean culture (1150 B.C.) and after the changes that were brought on by the Dorian migration (1200-1000 B.C.), as a mirror image of the religious myths of the 13th and 12th centuries, B.C., at a 1:1 ratio?  To what extent was the Mycenean  culture still identical to the ancient Greek?  Did Homer not, rather, epically transform these myths and thereby render them useful to the interests of the nobility of his own time?  Does the Odyssey not, particularly, reflect man's entering a new era while he, on the one hand, looks back at the past and reassures himself of it and, at the same time, looks ahead at what to him might still appear shrouded in mist, namely the age of reason? In the end, for Homer should hold true what holds true for the Old Testament of the Bible:  Nothing would be more wrong than to take the stories and religious myths that are contained in the Old Testament books, at face value:  "Keine Frage: Der Pentateuch, die fünf Bücher Mose, die von den gläubigen Juden als Tora verehrt und für besonders heilig gehalten werden, ist keine Primärquelle aus der Bronzezeit."(26), is what Matthias Schulz states in his article on the status of Bible research (by which he means that, without a doubt, the Pentateuch, the Five Books of Moses that are revered as Torah, in Jewish faith, are not a primary source from the Bronze age.  Would that not also hold true for Homer? 

At least, it appears to me that, in this respect, Feuerbach prefers a certain interpretation, that--as Nietzsche did--divided ancient-Greek culture into two halves and, in doing so, has to proceed eclectically, as can be seen in Feuerbach's use of Pindar and in his conscious rejection of "platonic idealism". 

Essentially, in chapters 23-26, theses from his "Wesen des Christentums" [Essence of Christianity] respectively the "Wesen der Religion" [Essence of Religion] are expounded on with samples from Homer's writings, in which, he essence of the Gods is, on the one hand, described as that of human beings, and, on the other hand, as that of humanized nature.  In the "Wunder" [miracle] chapter that follows, Feuerbach can, again, return to his central thesis: "Aber gerade die Wirkungen, die als die letzten Anhaltspunkte für die Existenz der Götter als von Natur und Mensch unterschiedner Wesen übriggeblieben sind, die Wunder, beweisen zu guter Letzt aufs eindringlichste, daß die Götter nur sind, tun und können, was die Menschen wünschen; denn der Tat des Wunders geht nicht nur der Glaube an das Wunder – "Glaubet ihr, daß ich das tun kann?" ... –, sondern auch vor allem der Wille, der Wunsch des Wunders voraus, und zwar nicht nur im wundertätigen Gotte, sondern auch im wunderleidenden Menschen."[However, just these very effects that have remained as the last focal points for the existence of Gods as beings that are different from nature and man, the mircacles, ultimately prove most poignantly that the Gods can only be and do what men want; for the miraculous act is not only preceded by the belief in miracles -- "Do you believe that I can do that?" . . . --, but, above all, the will, the desire for the miracle, and that not only in the God that works miracles, but also in man who is suffering miracles.](27)  The immediately following "Traum" [dream] chapter – "Wunder sind leibliche Träume, und Träume sind geistliche Wunder"[Miracles are physical dreams, and dreams are spiritual miracles](28) – while it features a great deal of examples from Homer, the Old Testament and of many other ancient writers, particularly also of "dream theophanies" and described the importance of "Prophetie" [prophecy] of dreams with the ancients, nevertheless, with respect to an independent "physiological" and "psychological" explanation of the phenomenon, if one thinks, for example, of Freud, it leaves much to be desired. Obviously, Feuerbach appears to be of the opinion that in the dream, the same projections are prevalent as in the state of being awake, however, free from the  "Schranke des Naturalismus und Materialismus" [barrier of naturalism and materialism].

In his 29th chapter, Feuerbach discussed the problem of theodicy, although, at first, it does not become clear what this might have to do with the creation of Gods. After all, theodicy is concerned with the justification of evil in the world in the fact of the existence of an omniscient and all-benevolent God.   However, this problem can only arise in an era of abstraction of reason and of the development of high forms of religion, but never during eras of polytheism (of understanding), where various limited powers and characteristics are ascribed to diverse deities/gods, who, very humanly, drag these very humans into their own actions.  Only the One God of high forms of religion is a God of principle, an abstract being, from whom everything empirically-earthly ("evil") can be separated--n wonder, that this kind of God runs into problems with reality . . . On the other hand, the fantasizing projection by man becomes very evident in the example of the problem of theodicy, when man transposes his abstract ideals (that can not be found in reality) onto a God: omnipotence, boundless benevolence, omniscience--unreal abstracts that reason conjures up and yearns for and, for that very reason, projects beyond man. 

Feuerbach expresses this difference between the real existence of nature and the wishful imagination of man in one of the most beautiful passages of his "Theogony" in this way: 

Die sogenannten Naturgesetze haben keine Ähnlichkeit mit den Gesetzen der Götter und Menschen, weil, ungeachtet der Abweichungen und Störungen, welche die Naturkörper durch ihre gegenseitigen Einflüsse erleiden, die Wirkungen der Natur stets im Einklang mit dem Gesetz sind, es also keine ungesetzlichen Handlungen der Natur gibt, weil bei ihr Können und Müssen eines ist, weil sie nichts andres tun will, als sie tun kann und tun muß. Wären die sogenannten Gesetze der Natur ihr gegeben von Wesen, die von ihr unterschieden, so würde die Sonne ebenso leicht und oft von ihrer Bahn abweichen als der Mensch von der Bahn des Gesetzes. Gesetze hat die Natur nur im Sinne des Menschen; "Gesetz" ist ein Bild, ein durchaus menschlicher, ebendeswegen so leicht mißverständlicher Ausdruck für Naturnotwendigkeit. Die Natur ist autonom, Selbstgesetzgeberin, d. h., das Gesetz ist absolut eins mit ihrem Wesen, gleichgültig, ob nun der Mensch in seiner Unwissenheit und Beschränktheit diesen Zusammenhang, diese Einheit von Gesetz und Natur in bestimmten Fällen nachweisen kann oder nicht. Selbst für den Menschen ist ja das, was wirklich Natur in ihm ist, kein Gesetz, weil ununterscheidbar eins mit ihm selbst. Gesetz ist nur da, wo das Gegenteil von dem, was es festsetzt, möglich ist; sein Bestreben ist eben, diese Möglichkeit zur Unmöglichkeit zu machen. Das Gesetz ist der Affe der Notwendigkeit, der das "Es kann nicht anders sein" in das "Es soll nicht anders sein, als ich will" travestiert. Wie kommt also der Mensch dazu, der Natur Gesetze beizulegen? Nur dadurch, daß er von allem, was in der Natur ist und geschieht, sich das Gegenteil als möglich vorstellen kann und wirklich vorstellt. Im Gegensatz zu diesem unbeschränkten Andersseinkönnen der menschlichen Einbildungskraft erscheint das wirkliche, so und so bestimmte Sein als ein Gesetz, das daher notwendig auch auf einen positiven, willkürlichen, überhaupt menschlichen Gesetzgeber der Natur zurückweist. Nicht nur aber die gesetzwidrigen, dem Götterwillen widersprechenden Handlungen, die Handlungen überhaupt beweisen, daß die Götter nur Wunschwesen sind. Die Menschen reden und beten zu den Göttern, als hinge alles nur von den Göttern ab, als wäre nichts die Natur, nichts der Mensch, und doch handeln sie so, als hinge alles nur von den natürlichen und menschlichen Kräften und Mitteln ab, als wären die Götter nichts; kurz, die Menschen sind in ihrem Glauben, ihren Gebeten, ihren Worten Theisten, aber in ihren Handlungen Atheisten.[The so-called laws of nature bear no resemblance to the laws of Gods and men, since, regardless of deviations and disturbances that natural bodies suffer due to their interdependence and interrelationships, the effects of nature are always in accord with the laws of nature, so that there do not exist any un-lawful acts of nature, since in them, ability and need are identical, since it can not do anything but that which it can and must do.   If the laws of nature were given to nature by beings that are different from it, then the sun would, just as easily and often, deviate from its path as man deviates from the path of law.   Nature only has "laws" due to the understanding of it of man: "Law" is an image, a thoroughly human, and due to this, very easily misunderstood expression for the necessity of nature.  Nature is autonomous, its own law-giver, which means that the 'law' of nature is absolutely one with its essence, regardless as to whether man, with his limited knowledge and abilities, can prove this interrelationship, this unity of law and nature in specific cases, or not.   Even to man that which is real nature in him is not a law, since it can not be differentiated from him.  Law only exists there where the opposite of that what it sets forth, is possible; its aim is, after all, to render this possibility an impossibility.  Law is an ape of necessity, a travesty of the  "Es kann nicht anders sein" [it can not be otherwise] into the "Es soll nicht anders sein, als ich will" [it shall not be otherwise than I wish]. How does man, then, How does man, then, arrive at attributing laws to nature? Only by being able to imagine and by actually imagining that everything that is and happens in nature, can also exist in the opposite.   Contrary to this difference of the unlimited ability of human imagination, real and thus determined existence appears as a law that, therefore, necessarily also points towards a positive, deliberate, essentially 'human' law-giver to nature.   However, not only the actions that contravene the will of the Gods, but the actions, themselves, prove that Gods are only beings that have been conjured up by human desire.  Men communicate with and pray to the Gods, as if everything depends on them, as if nature and man were nothing, and yet, they act as if everything solely depends on natural and human forces and means, as if the Gods were nothing; in short, in their beliefs, in their prayers, in their words, men are theists, but in their actions, they are atheists.](29)

Subsequently, also revelation that is, by the way, supposed to be prevalent in pagan religion as well as in Christianity, traced back to the desires of man, both with respect to the origin of the cult as well as with respect to the prediction of the future:  "Gott weiß alles, das heißt: alles, was der Mensch nicht weiß, aber zu wissen wünscht; denn, abgesehen von dieser nähern Bestimmung, hat die göttliche Allwissenheit für den Menschen kein Pathos, kein Interesse, keinen Sinn" [God knows everything, which means: all that man does not know but that he wants to know; after all, without this closer determination, divine omniscience holds no pathos, no interest, no meaning, for man.](30) For, the "Wesen des Christentums" (Essence of Christianity, which is the chapter heading) is "ein der Anthropologie angehöriges, ein aus menschlichen Wünschen entsprungenes Wesen"[an essence that belongs to anthropology, an essence that has arisen out of human desires.](31) This "Wesen" wird näher bestimmt mit Calvin: ""Auf dem Tode und der Auferstehung Christi beruht das ganze Evangelium"[essence is more clearly defined by Calvin: "The entire gospel rests on the death and resurrection of Christ"] ... "Wenn man die Auferstehung aufhebt, so hebt man das ganze Evangelium auf, vereitelt die Kraft Christi, richtet die ganze Religion zugrunde. Denn wozu ist Christus gestorben und auferstanden, außer dazu, daß er uns einst vom Tode erlöst, zum ewigen Leben zusammenruft"[if one removes resurrection, one removes the entire gospel, puts asunder Christ's power, destroys the entire religion.  After all, what did Christ die for and rise from the dead, other than for the purpose of ultimately saving us from death and gather us for eternal life.](32) The latter, as "ewige Seligkeit" [eternal bliss] is only thinkable then when there is yet another plane of existence than the earthly valley of tears--which is the "Ewigkeit Gottes" [God's eternity], who, in his omnipotence, has created the here and now out of nothing. "Kurz, die Seligkeit ist eine bloße, aus der Luft gegriffene Hypothese; sie hat kein Vermögen, sich zu begründen und zu behaupten, wenn sie sich nicht auf die Allmacht stützt, keine Hoffnung auf die Zukunft, wenn sie sich nicht auf ein entsprechendes Recht der Vergangenheit beruft, keine andere Bedeutung als die eines Einfalls, einer Improvisation, wenn ihr nicht das vorbedachte Werk der Schöpfung vorangeht. Die Seligkeit hängt nicht von dieser Welt ab; im Gegenteil, sie hofft und baut auf den Untergang oder doch eine ihrem Interesse entsprechende Umgestaltung derselben. Wie kann aber die Welt untergehen, wenn sie nicht einst schon nicht gewesen ist? Wie die Seligkeit nach der Welt überhaupt unabhängig von der Welt existieren, wenn sie nicht schon ein vor- und überweltliches Dasein hat? Oder wie kann die Seligkeit eine Umgestaltung derselben zu ihrem Besten beanspruchen, wenn sie kein Vorrecht vor ihr hat? Dieses Vorrecht der Seligkeit vor aller Welt und Natur ist die weltschaffende Gottheit. ... Die Schöpfung der Welt oder den weltschaffenden Willen für sich selbst, abgesehen von dem Seligkeitswillen des Menschen, zum Gegenstande des Denkens, zur fixen Idee machen heißt, um eine griechische Redensart zu gebrauchen, "über den Schatten des Esels" ohne den Esel spekulieren."[In short, bliss is merely a hypothesis that has been grasped out of thin air; it does not have the ability of explaining its existence and of maintaining itself, if it does not rely on omnipotence, it has not hope for the future, if it does not claim an equivalent right to the past, it has no other meaning than that of an idea, an improvisation, if the work of creation does not precede it.  Bliss does not depend on this world; to the contrary, it builds its hopes on the demise of the world or, at least, on a certain reorganization of it, in its own interest.  However, how can the world go asunder if it, in the past, has not already been non-existent?  How can bliss exist independently, after the demise of the world, if it did not already have a pre-and supra-worldly existence?  Or, how can bliss demand a reorganization of the world in its own best interest, if it does not have rights that precede it?  This pre-existing right of bliss, that precedes all of the world and nature, is the Godhead that is creating the world. ...  To make the creation of the world or the world-creating will for itself, aside from man's desire for bliss, an object of thought, an idée fixe, means, to use an ancient-Greek expression, "to speculate on the shadow of the donkey" without the donkey.] (33) "Nur wo am Anfange der Welt nichts steht, d. h. nichts Widerwilliges und Widerwärtiges – und was ist noch heute den unsterblich sein wollenden Seelen widerwärtiger als die Materie? –, nichts der göttlichen Tätigkeit Widerstand Leistendes, nur da steht auch am Ende der menschlichen Seligkeit nichts im Wege."[Only there, where, at the beginning of the world, there is nothing, that is, nothing contrary and objectionable--and what is, still today, more contrary than matter, to souls that strive for immortality? --, nothing that stands in the way of divine action, ultimately, it is only that which also provides no obstacles to man's bliss] (34)

Subsequently, Feuerbach also allows himself some deviations when he interprets the Genesis of the Old Testament and then discusses  "Christian" natural science that, through the findings of modern science, is troubled to a great degree.  The chapter on the "theoretische Grundlage des Theismus" [the theoretical basis of theism] convincingly foreshadows thought that have later been elaborated on by Ernst Topitsch:

Der Glaube, daß ein Gott ist oder, was dasselbe, ein Gott die Welt macht und regiert, ist nichts anderes als der Glaube, d. h. hier die Überzeugung oder Vorstellung, daß die Welt, die Natur nicht von Naturkräften oder Naturgesetzen, sondern von denselben Kräften und Beweggründen beherrscht und bewegt wird als der Mensch, daß die Ursache, aber nicht erst die letzte, wie bei den modernen Theisten, sondern die erste und letzte, die einzige gültige Ursache, der Naturwirkungen und Naturerscheinungen ein denkendes, wollendes, und zwar menschlich denkendes, menschlich wollendes, menschlich gesinntes, Wesen ist, an der Spitze der Dinge und Wesen ein Herr steht, ein Regent, ein Vater, ein Baumeister, ein Heerführer, oder wie man sonst dieses vom Menschen unterschiedene, weil die Welt regierende, aber gleichwohl menschliche Wesen nennen mag, daß folglich allein von den Gesinnungen dieses Wesens, von der Erfüllung seines Willens, von seiner Bedienung und Verehrung, von Opfern und Gebeten, nicht aber von der Natur, die hier gar nicht vorhanden ist, außer nach dem Sinnenschein, nicht von der Anwendung und Benutzung, geschweige der Erkenntnis ihrer Kräfte und Mittel das Schicksal, das Wohl und Wehe des Menschen abhängt."[The belief that there is a God or, which is the same, that a God has created the world and is ruling it, is nothing but the belief that here, the conviction or the concept that the world, that nature, is not ruled by forces or laws of nature but by the same forces and motivations as man, that the cause, but not only the last, as with modern theists, but rather, the first and last, the only valid cause of all natural effects or phenomena, is a thinking being with intentions and desires, namely a being that thinks and has intentions and desires, that, at the helm of [all] things and beings, there is a Lord, a regent, a father, an architect, a ruler, or whatever else one wants to call this being that is different from man, since it/he is ruling the world, yet, nevertheless, shows human traits, that, accordingly, solely on the mindset of this being, on the fulfillment of his will, on the service and worship of him, on sacrifices and on prayers, but not on nature,--which, here, is not even in existence, except as an illusion of our senses,--not on the application and use, let alone on the realization of its means and forces [of nature], man's fate, his well-being, depends. (35) "‚Ich glaube an einen Gott‘, das heißt ursprünglich nichts andres als: Ich habe keine andere Anschauung, keine andere Vorstellung und Erklärung von den natürlichen Dingen als von den menschlichen; es muß ‚einer‘ oder ‚jemand‘ sein, der in demselben Verhältnis steht zu den Dingen oder Wesen, die nicht von mir abhängen, die vielmehr mein eignes Sein voraussetzt, als ich zu den Dingen oder Wesen stehe, die von mir abhängig sind; es muß also einer oder jemand sein, der dasselbe im Verhältnis zur Natur oder Welt ist, was ich als Uhrmacher im Verhältnis zur Uhr, als Baumeister im Verhältnis zum Hause, als Töpfer im Verhältnis zum Topfe, als Vater für meine Kinder, als Fürst für die Untertanen, als Herr für die Knechte bin. So unzertrennlich, so notwendig mit der Vorstellung einer Uhr die eines Uhrmachers, so unzertrennlich, so notwendig ist mit der Vorstellung der Welt als eines Werks die Vorstellung eines Werkmeisters, eines Weltmachers verknüpft. Keine Uhr ohne Uhrmacher, kein Topf ohne Töpfer, keine Welt ohne Gott!"["I believe in one God', originally, that means nothing but: I have no other concept, no other explanation of natural things as human concepts; it has to be 'someone' or 'somebody' that stands in the same relationship to things or beings that are not dependent on me, that, rather, pre-supposes my own existence, as I am related to things or beings that are dependent on me; accordingly, there has to be someone or somebody who has the same relationship to nature or to the world as I, as a clockmaker, have to the clock, as I, as an architect, have to the house I have built, as I, as a potter, have to the pot that I have made, as I, as a father have to my children, as a Prince hat to his subjects, as a Lord has to his servants.  As inseparable, as necessary as the concept of a clock is connected to that of a clock-maker, as inseparable, as necessary is the concept of the world as the work of a maker, of a creator.  No clock without a clock-maker, no pot without a potter, no world without God!"]  (36) "Aber so notwendig mit dem Werk der Werkmeister, so notwendig ist mit dem Knecht der Herr, mit dem Untertan der Fürst verknüpft. So gewiß daher ich selbst Herr bin für die Dinge und Wesen, die von mir abhängen, so gewiß ist das Wesen, von dem ich abhänge; dem ich mich untergeben sehe und fühle, ein Herr über mich. So gewiß ohne mich, den Hausherrn, keine Ordnung im Hause, ohne mich, den Volksherrn, keine Ordnung im Volke, ohne Ordnung aber kein Zusammenhang, und Bestand der menschlichen Dinge, so gewiß ist auch ohne einen Herrn der Natur keine Ordnung, kein Bestand der natürlichen Dinge. Ich glaube an einen Gott, heißt daher: Ich glaube an einen Herrn der Dinge, über die ich, der Mensch, nicht Herr bin. Herr sein heißt Gott sein.["However, as necessary as the maker is to the work, as necessary is the servant is connected to the Lord, as necessarily is the subject is to the Prince.  As certain as I, myself, am master of those things and beings that depend on my, as certain is the being on which I depend, the being which I see and feel myself subject to, a Lord above me.  As surely as, without me, the master of the house, there is no order in the house, as surely as without me, the ruler of the nation, there is no order in the nation, without order, however, there is no continuity, no connectedness, no existence of things human, as surely there is no order without a Lord over nature, no continuity of natural things.  I believe in one God therefore means:  I believe in one master of all those things of which I, man, am not the master.  To be a master/lord means to be God."] (37)

In relationship to the "positivum" man, this God is the "superlative":  "Gott ist daher wohl das übermenschliche, das unendliche Wesen, aber, wohlgemerkt, das unendlich menschliche, das übermenschlich menschliche Wesen – ein Wesen, das mehr, unendlich mehr Mensch ist als der Mensch selbst – ein sehendes, wissendes, fühlendes, liebendes Wesen wie der Mensch, aber mehr, unendlich mehr sehendes, unendlich mehr wissendes, unendlich mehr fühlendes und. liebendes Wesen als der Mensch."["Therefore, God [must be] the super-human, the infinite being, however, nevertheless, the infinitely human, the super-humanly human being -- a being that is more, infinitely more man than man, himself -- a seeing, knowing, feeling, loving being as man is, but seeing, knowing, feeling and loving infinitely more than man."](38)

This similarity of character between God and man also finds expression in cult and in symbolism:  "Die Wahrhaftigkeit und Innigkeit der Götterverehrung beruht nur darauf, daß die Götter, nicht dem Namen, sondern der Tat nach, wirklich Väter, Herren, Wohltäter, Freunde der Menschen, daß sie also keine den Gefühlen und Gesinnungen, die der Mensch dem Menschen gegenüber in diesen Verhältnissen hat, widersprechende Wesen sind. Wären die Götter das, wofür sie ihre falschen oder unwissenden Freunde ausgeben, von allem Menschlichen abgesonderte Wesen, Wesen nicht nur ohne die Schwächen und Fehler, sondern auch ohne die Kräfte und Tugenden des Menschen, Wesen also ohne Verstand, ohne Willen, ohne Gefühl für den Menschen, so fiele auch auf seiten des Menschen der Verstand, der Wille, das Gefühl für die Götter, hiermit der Grund zu ihrer Verehrung hinweg."["The sincerity and intensity of the worship of Gods only rests on the fact that Gods, not in name, but according to their actions, are really fathers, lords, benefactors, friends of man, that they, accordingly, are not beings whose nature is contradictory to those feelings and attitudes that man has towards his fellow man in this respect.  If the Gods were that as which their false or ignorant friends present them, thus beings who are separated from all things human, beings, not only without man's weaknesses and shortcomings, but also without his strengths and virtues, thus, beings without understanding, without desire, without feelings for man, then, also, on the part of man, his understanding, his will, his feeling for the Gods, thus his reason for their worship, would be cast aside."] (39)

"Das Symbol stellt ein Allgemeines dar, einen Gattungsbegriff, aber in einem Einzelnen, das selbst zu dieser Gattung gehört, selbst ein Stück Gattung ist, ja, ursprünglich die ganze Gattung in sich faßt. ... So heißt auch der Begriff nur deswegen so, weil der Begriff mit der Hand auch der erste Begriff im Kopfe ist, weil der Mensch zuerst nur erfaßt, was er anfaßt, nur weiß, nur begreift, was Feuer, was Wasser, was Stein, was Fleisch, was Schein, was Sein, wenn er die Dinge betastet. Die Sprache bewahrt treu und dankbar in den Worten die ersten, unauslöschlichen, unvergeßlichen Eindrücke; erst wenn diese vergessen sind, die Begriffe erweitert und verallgemeinert werden, wird der ursprüngliche, eigentliche Sinn zu einem nur bildlichen. Wie aber in der Sprache, so wird auch in der Religion, was ursprünglich die Sache selbst war, später zu einem bloßen Bilde."["The symbol represents something general, a generic concept, but in a singular/specific manner, which belongs to this generic concept, itself, which, itself, is a part of that concept, nay, which, originally, incorporated the entire concept in itself. . . .   Therefore, the concept is only named thus, since its  g r a s p i n g is related to man's first concept of  g r a s p i n g  with his hand, since man can only  g r a s p  what he touches, since he can only know, can only understand what is fire, water, stone, flesh, illusion, existence, when he touches things.  Language faithfully and gratefully preserves in words the first, indelible, unforgettable impressions; only when those are forgotten, when the concepts are broadened and generalized, does the original, actual meaning turn into a symbolic one.  However, as in language, also in religion, that which originally was the thing as such later turned into a mere symbol."](40)

Insofar, the basic situation for the pagan Gods is the same as that of the Christian God, and Feuerbach described the difference between them as follows: 

Der christliche Gott ist ebensogut als der heidnische ein menschliches Wesen, nur andrer Art als dieser, weil auch der Christ ein Mensch andrer Art ist als der Heide. "Gott ist kein Stoiker", sagt Melanchthon ("Eth. Doct. Elem.", p. 50), aber auch kein Epikuräer, überhaupt kein heidnisches Wesen, nein, Gott, d. h. der Gott der Christen, ist ein durchaus christliches Wesen. Der christliche Gott ist daher nicht mehr über dem Menschen, nicht mehr unterschieden vom Menschen als der heidnische, wenn man, wie sich’s gehört, mit dem christlichen Gott auch nur den christlichen, nicht den heidnischen Menschen vergleicht. Die griechischen, die homerischen Götter sind trotz ihrer menschlichen Schwächen und Fehler die Klassischen Formen die Modelle für alle Götter, weil sie zu sinnlicher, unmittelbarer Anschauung bringen, was bei andern, abgezognen Göttern erst auf Umwegen ermittelt wird. Nur muß man nicht vergessen, daß die homerischen Götter auch nur Götter für homerische Menschen, aber nicht für platonische Seelen oder gar für christliche Schulmeister sein wollten, um zu begreifen, daß zwischen dem homerischen Gott und homerischen Menschen ein ebenso großer oder geringer Unterschied ist als zwischen dem christlichen Gott und christlichen Menschen. Die Unsterblichkeit ist bei Homer nur eine Eigenschaft der Götter, im Christentum dagegen eine Eigenschaft des Menschen selbst. Die Unsterblichkeit kann aber nicht für sich allein, nicht ohne andere, sie bedingende und begleitende göttliche Eigenschaften gedacht werden. Der christliche Mensch ist daher dem heidnischen gegenüber ein Gott.[Just as much as the pagan God, the Christian god is a human being, but of a different kind, since also a Christian is different from a pagan.  "Gott ist kein Stoker" [God is not a Stoic], said Melanchthon ("Eth. Doct. Elem.", p. 50), but also not an Epicurean, actually, he is no pagan being, at all, no, God, the God of the Christians, is a thoroughly Christian being.  Therefore, the Christian God is not further above man, not any more different from man, than the pagan (God), if one, as is appropriate, only compares the Christian God to the Christian and the pagan God to the pagan.  Die ancient-Greek, the Homerian Gods, in spite of their human weaknesses and shortcomings, are the classical forms, the models for all Gods, since they immediately and sensually illustrate what, in the case of derived Gods, only becomes apparent indirectly.  However, in order to understand that, between the Homerian God and Homerian man there is an equally large or small difference than between the Christian God and Christian man, one must not forget that the Homerian Gods were only Gods for Homerian man, but not for platonic souls or even for Christian teachers.  In the case of the Homerian Gods, immortality is only a trait of the Gods, while, in Christianity, is is also a human trait. However, immortality can not be conceptualized by itself, without other divine traits that are accompanying it.  Therefore, Christian man is, compared to pagan man, a God.](41)

...der Unterschied zwischen dem heidnischen und christlichen Gott [ist] nur der Unterschied zwischen dem heidnischen und christlichen Menschen ..., daß der christliche Gott nur deswegen ein qualitativ, ein wesentlich vom Menschen, d. h. vom heidnischen, vom natürlichen, Menschen, unterschiednes Wesen ist, weil die Wünsche der Christen sich wesentlich unterscheiden von den Wünschen der Heiden. Irdische, zeitliche Glückseligkeit – Glückseligkeit auf dem Boden der Natur, des Vaterlands, des Hausherds – ist der Wunsch des Heidentums, auch Judentums, himmlische, ewige Glückseligkeit der Wunsch des Christentums. Dieser Unterschied der Wünsche ist der Unterschied der Götter. ... Dieser Wunsch bestimmt das Wesen der Götter; dieser Wunsch entscheidet ihr Schicksal; denn sowie der Mensch neue Wünsche bekommt, so genügen ihm auch nicht mehr seine alten Götter; er schafft sich neue. Wo der Mensch innerhalb der Grenze der Natur bleibende Wünsche hat, da hat er auch durch die Naturnotwendigkeit begrenzte Götter, Götter, die sich nicht über die Gesetze der Natur hinwegsetzen, nicht sich anmaßen, mit dem bloßen Wörtchen "fiat [es werde]" Welten aus nichts hervorzuzaubern, mit einem bloßen "pereat [es vergehe]" die Welt wieder ins Nichts zu stoßen; wo aber der Mensch sich ein unendliches, nicht mehr den Gesetzen der menschlichen und irdischen Natur unterworfnes, nicht mehr an Zeit und Raum gebundenes Glück wünscht, da hat er natürlich und notwendig auch einen diesem Wunsche gleichen, folglich absolut unbeschränkten, an keine Notwendigkeit, kein Naturgesetz gebundnen, im höchsten Grade freien (liberrimum) Gott.

Gott ist nichts andres als der aus dem Scheffel des menschlichen Herzens ans Licht des Bewußtseins hervorgezogene, als ein persönliches Wesen herausgestellte, zum Gesetz oder vielmehr Gesetzgeber seines Tuns und Lassens erhobene, exaltierte Wille des Menschen, glücklich zu sein – der Gegenstand dieses Willens sei nun, welcher er wolle. Wer dies nicht erkennt, der hat auch nicht eine Zeile der Bibel gelesen, wenigstens mit gesundem, freiem Blick. [...the difference between a pagan and a Christian God [is] only the difference between pagan and Christian man ... that the Christian God is only a being that is qualitatively different from man, meaning, from pagan, natural, man is due to the fact that the desires of Christians are essentially different from those of the pagans.  Worldly, temporal, happiness -- happiness on the basis of nature, of the fatherland, of hearth and home -- that is the desire of paganism, also of Judaism, heavenly, eternal bliss is the desire of Christianity.  This different of desires is the difference between the Gods. ... This desire determines the essence of the Gods, this desire decides over their fate, since, as soon as man came to have different desires, the old Gods were also no longer adequate, he created new ones.  Where man has desires that remain within the realm and limit of nature, he necessarily has Gods that are limited to those parameters, Gods that do not set themselves above the laws of nature, Gods that do not assume that they can, with a mere word, "fiat [it shall be]" create worlds out of nothing, to, with a mere "pereat [it shall vanish]" send the world back into nothingness; however, where man strives for a bliss that is eternal, that is no longer subject to human and earthly nature, no longer bound to time and space, there he naturally and necessarily, also has a God that matches his desire, a God that is absolutely without limitations, that is not bound to any necessities, to no natural law, a God that is free to the highest degree.] (42)

Here, Feuerbach sees the difference between "pagan" Gods and the "Christan" God -- but obviously, he sees this difference rather in a quantitative and subjective manner, as merely being based on "another desire".  However, we hear nothing from him as to what this different manner of desires, from Plato to Christianity, is based on. "Der Unterschied zwischen dem heidnischen und christlichen Gott [ist] nur der Unterschied zwischen dem heidnischen und christlichen Menschen"[The difference between the pagan and the Christian God [is] only the difference between pagan and Christian man] – however, what does this difference consist of?!  No word is mentioned with respect to this and also no word as to why history even applied a "turn of the times" to this era.   In reality, between polytheism and monotheism, between national and world religion, between the "raging Jahwe" of the Old Testament and the "God of Love" of the New Testament, there is a qualitative difference.  And precisely this transition from the myth to the metaphysic of reason, that can, with and in slightly different times,  also be found in other areas of the world (in China through Laotse and Confucious, in Buddhism and Islam), is demonstrated most clearly in ancient-Greek religion and philosophy.  Feuerbach also feels this and, due to this, sees himself forced to notice the contrast between the Homerian religion of nature and Platonic ideals.  He is also able to point out the background to the religions of understanding, when he, with Epictet, finds the actual root for the utilitarian thinking of understanding, while, on the other hand, the qualitative change to the higher religion appears to have sprung up like a "deus ex machina":   What is the reason for "Platonic" and "Christian" man's placing his highest desire, in the metaphysic of reason, in the individual "eternal bliss"?  

Kurz, Gott und Seligkeit sind eins der Unterschied zwischen Gott und Mensch ist nur der: Der Mensch ist das im Willen, das in der Hoffnung, Gott das in der Tat, in Wirklichkeit selige Wesen; der Mensch der verlangende, Gott der befriedigte Glückseligkeitstrieb; der Mensch der Seligkeitswunsch, Gott der Erfüller, richtiger: das Erfülltsein dieses Wunsches.[In short, God and Bliss are one, the difference between God and man is only this:  man is the being that is satisfied by desiring, by hoping, God is the being that is satisfied in deed, in reality; man is the being that is striving for bliss, God is the being that is satisfied by it; man is the desire for bliss, God is the fulfiller, or rather, the fulfillment of this desire.](43)

Nicht selig, nein, sittlich sein wollen ist der Grund der Religion, denn keine Tugend ohne Gott, ohne Religion." Jawohl! Aber der Sinn dieser Worte ist nur der: keine Tugend ohne Seligkeit oder, wenn dieses Wort zu überirdisch klingt, ohne Glückseligkeit. Der Mensch soll nicht gut sein, um selig zu werden; nein, aber er soll selig sein, um gut zu sein, denn er kann nicht gut sein, wenn er nicht selig oder glücklich ist; Gutsein hängt vom Wohlsein ab. Die Moral, die es nur mit Begriffen zu tun hat, mag die Glückseligkeit von der Tugend abhängig machen, aber das Leben, wo nicht Begriffe, sondern Wesen, empfindende, bedürftige, verlangende Wesen, entscheiden, macht es umgekehrt und hat recht. Tugend ist Glück (inneres, aber nicht vom Äußern unabhängiges Glück), Laster Unglück. Tugend, die nicht aus der Glückseligkeit entspringt, ist nur Heuchelei, Wer daher die Menschen bessermachen will, der mache sie vor allem glücklicher; ist dieses unmöglich, so verzichte er auch auf jenes. {The basis for religion is not the desire for bliss but rather the desire for virtue, since there is no virtue without God, without religion."  Yes!  But the meaning of these words is only this:  no virtue without bliss or, if this sounds too supernatural, without happiness.  Man shall not be good in order to be happy, no, he shall be happy in order to be good, since he can not be good when he is not happy.  Being good depends on being happy or content.  Morality which only deals with terms might wish to make bliss or happiness a condition of virtue, but life, in which not terms and concepts, but rather beings, feeling, needing, desiring beings, decide, turns this upside down and is right.  Virtue is happiness (inner happiness that is not dependent on external matters), vice is unhappiness.  Virtue that does not spring from happiness is only hypocrisy.  Therefore, he who wants to make men better should, above all, make them happier; if that is impossible, he also has to give up on the latter.](44)

As we can see, Feuerbach has arrived at the problem that would occupy him during his Nürnberg years, at the problem of the dynamics of morality, happiness, bliss and self-love: 

Was aber der wesentliche Gegenstand des christlichen Glaubens, das ist auch der wesentliche Gegenstand und Grund der christlichen Moral. "Die Liebe ist das Wesen des Christentums", jawohl! Aber nicht die Liebe zu nichts, sondern die Liebe des Menschen zu sich oder, was eins ist – denn wer kann sein Leben von sich unterscheiden oder abtrennen, ohne mit dem Leben sich selbst zu vernichten? –, die Liebe zu seinem Leben, aber nicht die Liebe zu diesem seinen endlichen oder zeitlichen, sondern zum ewigen, unendlichen Leben. Gottesliebe ist Seligkeitsliebe, ist Selbstliebe. Es ist daher eins, ob ich sage: zur "Ehre Gottes", oder: zum "Nutzen des Menschen", denn dasselbe, was zur Ehre Gottes, geschieht zugleich zum Besten des Menschen; eins, ob ich sage: "im Namen des Herrn", oder: "im Namen des Heils", ob ich sage: "um Gottes willen", oder: "um meinet- oder meiner Seligkeit willen" [That which is the essential object of the Christian faith is also the essential object and reason for Christian morality.  "Love is the essence of Christianity", yes!  But not the love for nothing, but the love of man for himself or, which is the same -- who can differentiate or separate his life from himself, without also destroying himself by doing so? --, the love for his life, but not the love for this, his temporal, but rather for his eternal life.  Love of God is love of bliss, is self-love.  Therefore, it is the same when I say: for "God's honor" or for "man's benefit", then the same that is happening for the honor of God also happens for man's benefit; it is the same whether I say, "in the name of the Lord" or "for the good of man", whether I say "for God's sake" or "for my sake or for my happiness' sake".]

Since, and this is, once more, the summarized basic premise of the entire book: "Der Mensch ist das im Willen, das in der Hoffnung, Gott das in der Tat, in Wirklichkeit selige Wesen; der Mensch der verlangende, Gott der befriedigte Glückseligkeitstrieb; der Mensch der Seligkeitswunsch, Gott der Erfüller, richtiger: das Erfülltsein dieses Wunsches."[Man is the being that is happy in desiring, in hoping, God it the being that is happy in action, in reality; man is the desire for happiness, God is the satisfied desire; Man is the desire for bliss, God the fulfiller, or rather: the fulfillment of this desire.](45)

With this it becomes clear:  Feuerbach's view of the origin of the Gods traces it back solely to the sensual-emotional structure:   That be believe in part of that by which we are surrounded, that we lustfully and positively strive for it (which, from the viewpoint of understanding, is termed as "useful" by us), thus, that we wish for it,  while we, on the other hand, experience another part as negative and reject is as being connected to displeasure.  

However, what is a striving, a desire, that is traced back to sensuality and the compulsive needs of a living creature?  Is that a purely human phenomenon, or do we not rather share it with the animals?   There, where Feuerbach lets his anthropology end in this tracing back to the feeling of emotio and to the connectedness to the world through sensuality, is that not where the actual questions should begin?   Every higher animal stand in the world in the same manner as man, in that his systems, from the vegetative level to the instincts to emotion, force him to the preservation of his own existence, to the maintenance of a "homeostasis", as Damasio would call it, or, in other words:  satisfaction of physical needs.   However, do animals have Gods because of it?   Rather not -- therefore, it also has to be something quite different that brings forth Gods and religion.  We have to search for this root, since religion is a purely human phenomenon, and consequently, it will be directly related to that which differentiates man and animal, and that is, after all, not emotion -- after all, even individual and reflecting emotional awareness is something which we, today, ascribe to higher mammals.  What, therefore, is crucial for the development and formation of religion is rather the creation of a new level of imagination and causality my means of the verticalisation of understanding through language.(46)

A psychological explanation such as that of Feuerbach, therefore, only offers a partial explanation for the origin of Gods and of religion -- however, in this process, we also gain many insights that foreshadow Freud's discoveries with respect to instincts and the subconscious emotional structure of man and their effect on his thought patterns, as has already been shown at the example of conscience.  

Already since antiquity, itself, thinkers became aware of the problem of the origin of religion and offered rational approaches to explain it; Topitsch/Streminger offer a brief overview from Xenophanes to Hobbes and Spinoza, in their book "Hume", also with respect to this topic, the Scottish philosopher has achieved a great deal and is considered the "große[n] Grundleger der Religionswissenschaft" [the great founder of religious science].(47)

Based on quotes by Hume, the authors write:  "Die religiösen Vorstellungen sind aus elementaren Gegebenheiten der menschlichen Psyche und tiefverwurzelten emotionalen Bedürfnissen hervorgegangen, was sich bereits auf niederer Kulturstufe deutlich zeigt: >Man darf deshalb nicht annehmen, daß diese Barbaren von anderen Triebkräften bewegt werden als von den gewöhnlichen Affekten des menschlichen Lebens, der ängstlichen Sorge um das Wohlergehen, der Furcht vor zukünftigem Elend, den Schrecken des Todes, dem Durst nach Rache, dem Verlangen nach Nahrung und anderen notwendigen Dingen. Von derartigen Gefühlen der Hoffnung und der Furcht, besonders der letzteren, angetrieben, erforschen die Menschen in angstvollem Suchen den Lauf der künftigen Ursachen und ergründen die verschiedenen, einander widerstreitenden Ereignisse des menschlichen Lebens. Und auf diesem verworrenen Schauplatz sehen die Menschen mit völlig verwirrten und erstaunten Sinnen die ersten dunklen Spuren der Gottheit.< [This does not mean that one should assume that these barbarians are moved by other driving forces than by those of the usual affects of human life, namely by the fearful striving for one's well-being, by one's fear of future misfortune, by the fear of death, by the thirst for revenge, by the desire for food and other necessary things.  Driven by such feelings of hope and fear, particularly by the latter one, in their fearful search, men seek to find the course of future causes and investigate the various events of human life that contradict each other.  And on this confusing stage men, utterly confused and amazed, see the first dark traces of Godhead.] Nicht rationale Überlegungen, sondern das Bewußtsein unserer Schwäche, unseres Elends und der ständigen Unsicherheit unseres Daseins ist der Ursprung des Götterglaubens. >Was für Zuflucht hätten wir unter den unzähligen Übeln des Lebens, böte uns die Religion nicht einige Mittel der Versöhnung und besänftigte die Schrecken, von denen wir unaufhörlich umgetrieben und gepeinigt werden?< [What refuge would we find among the countless evils of life, if religion would not offer us some means of atonement and some calming of the terrors by which we are constantly plagued and driven?]

... Eine wesentliche Voraussetzung der meisten Göttervorstellungen erkennt Hume darin, daß die Menschen geneigt sind, >die Dinge in Übereinstimmung mit sich selbst aufzufassen und jedem Gegenstand die Eigenschaften beizulegen, die ihnen vertraut und an ihnen selbst bekannt sind< [ understand things in agreement with oneself and to attribute to every object those traits that are familiar to them and that they know from their own traits.](48) So finden sie etwa ein menschliches Antlitz im Monde, Heerscharen in den Wolken und schreiben den Dingen einen guten oder bösen Willen zu. Dementsprechend hat man schon früh in vielen Dingen und Wesen handelnde Mächte gesehen, die dem Menschen ähnlich, aber doch überlegen sind." This ends Topitsch's/Streminger's coments.

Here, in Hume, we can, on the one hand, clearly see his foreshadowing of Feuerbach's projection theory as well as the similar notion that, above all, feelings in form of fear and desire are what lead to concepts of Gods.  However, contrary to Feuerbach, Hume also emphasizes the need of consciousness/awareness, namely human consciousness/awareness, since only it is in a position to have a desire to foresee the course of future causes:  conscious realization of things and their causal interrelationships -- Hume discusses both extensively in his criticism of realization -- are indispensable prerequisites for a concept of Gods. 

Quoting the philosopher Arnold Gehlen, Ernst Topitsch describes these dynamics of impulses and human consciousness and awareness as "Interessen der Ohnmacht" [interests of powerlessness] and quotes the philosopher Arnold Gehlen as follows:(49): "Solche Interessen, von denen primitive Mythen und anspruchsvolle philosophische System gleicherweise inspiriert sind, ergeben sich aus den ‚Tatsachen der Ohnmacht, des Mißerfolges, des Todes, des Leidens der >Unstabilität< und der Unberechenbarkeit der Welt, die der Mensch fortdauernd bewußt erfährt, denen er als exponiertes, nicht festgestelltes und den Zufällen der Welt voll ausgesetztes Wesen immerfort begegnet, und zu denen er doch Stellung zu nehmen genötigt ist.‘" – This knowledge of his being subjected and of his non-determined status are the cause of all myth-building and metaphysical activities of man.

In this context, we should also quote Heidegger who, in spite of his somewhat poetically-nebulous jargon certainly has the right grasp of the issue when he says:  "Der Mensch west im Haus der Sprache, in der sich ihm das Sein lichtet." [Heidegger expresses here that man lives in the house of language in which he is enlightened about existence.]  This means that man lives in quite a different context than all of his fellows creatures, namely, he lives in the realms of understanding and language, and only in this realm, with this horizon, did that develop which we call religion and philosophy.  Is is man who constructs his world-view by means of his capabilities of understanding and reason -- from this viewpoint, even today, the constructivist approach in modern philosophy has not been entirely discussed through, but rather, on the basis of the results of cognitive science, they have to be discussed anew.   

A summary of my own view of this, as I have developed it in my essays on "Christianity and Evolution" respectively in "What is Metaphysic?"(50) is as follows:  

A "phenomenological" consideration of the development of the human  mind will arrive at the conclusion that religion and philosophy, each in their own ways, are a means of world discovery, and that not in the sense of an "un-covering" of that which existed a-priori, but rather self-creations of the human mind.  The construction tool of the capability of understanding is the myth, that of reason is metaphysic. Therefore, understanding creates two worlds within the one immanent world, and abstraction of reason divides these worlds of understanding into the here-and-now, thus into immanence, and into the after-life, that which "merely" exists and that which it calls "actual" existence.   In the reflective phase, the animism of animated nature turns into polytheism:  That which previously had been ascribed to the objects is now being deified as the independent power and force "behind the objects".   Rather than: as many desires of man, as many Gods, reference should be made to: as many causes and phenomena as man is surrounded by and influenced by positively and negatively, as many powers are being personified.  "Gods" are the attempt of understanding at consciously(!) coming to terms with the observed natural phenomena.  The abstraction of reason raises the question as to the essence of these powers and generalizes them -- rationally in the case of the pre-Socratean thinkers -- into one basic axiom (water, earth, fire, air), and, in parallel manner, metaphysic unifies the Gods of polytheism into the One God -- Plato's "idea of the good", the monotheism of Christianity.(51): the beginning of the separation of religion and philosophy with Aristotle, who, to God, only assigns the role of the "initial cause", and who, in "hylemorphism", in the interplay of matter and form, "presents" Platonic idealism.  To this "golden middle path" of Aristotle, Epicurus and Plotinus represent the extremes, when the first relegates the Gods to inactivity at the outskirts of the universe(52) and when the latter understands all of nature to be a gradual emanation of the demiurgos who remains in constant contact with it.  The two opposing directions of materialism and pantheism have already been foreshadowed, here.  

German classical literature and philosophy take up ancient-Greek classicism; for example, Friedrich Schleiermacher translates Plato in exemplary fashion.  He lectured in Berlin while Feuerbach studied there, so that, at least in his early study years, Feuerbach attended his lectures and heard his sermons; as a spiritual orator, Schleiermacher convinced him, while he, on the other hand, criticized his university lectures as "Spinngewebe von Sophismen" [cobwebs and sophisms]. The famous author of the speeches "Über die Religion" [on religion], in his philosophy of religion, like Feuerbach, goes out from sensuality, however, with respect to the trigger effect and essence of religion, he arrives at quite a different result:    "Anschauen des Universums ... ist die allgemeinste und höchste Formel der Religion, woraus ihr jeden Ort in derselben finden könnt, woraus sich ihr Wesen und ihre Grenzen aufs genaueste bestimmen lassen." " ... alles Beschränkte als eine Darstellung des Unendlichen hinnehmen, das ist Religion" [(The) observation of the universe ... is the most general and the highest formula of religion, from which, in it, you can find every place, out of which its essence and its boundaries can be most precisely determined.(53) The ethical respectively the religious here springs from the aesthetic overwhelming -- which is still a typically romantic outlook.  Feuerbach, for whom the sensual, too, is in the foreground, several times positively referred to Schleiermacher's concept of dependence. 

Hegel who lectured in Berlin at the same time and whom Feuerbach considered as his actual teacher, turns the romantic perspective into the opposite and, with Kant, solely goes out from reason, from the "mind" and, in his dialectic view of religion, demotes the aesthetic to a footnote: "Die Religion ist die Art und Weise, wie der Mensch sich des göttlichen Wesens bewußt wird und sich das Dasein desselben bestimmt und die Einigkeit mit demselben sucht und hervorbringt. Sie ist das höchste Bewußtsein des Geistes und alles andere Bewußtsein davon abhängig."[Religion is the manner in which man becomes aware of the divine and in which he determines its existence and, with it, searches and brings forth unity.  It is the highest awareness of the mind and all other awareness is dependent on it.](54) In man's becoming aware of his own mind, for Hegel, the mind, in reflection, elevates itself above its former sister, religions, and dissolves the latter into philosophy.  

On the basis of this, in 1843, Feuerbach was able to state that his philosophy is religion: 

Die alte Philosophie hat eine doppelte Wahrheit – die Wahrheit für sich selbst, die sich nicht um den Menschen bekümmerte – die Philosophie –, und die Wahrheit für den Menschen – die Religion. Die neue Philosophie dagegen, als die Philosophie des Menschen, ist auch wesentlich die Philosophie für den Menschen – sie hat, unbeschadet der Würde und Selbständigkeit der Theorie, ja, im innigsten Einklang mit derselben, wesentlich eine praktische, und zwar im höchsten Sinne praktische, Tendenz; sie tritt an die Stelle der Religion, sie hat das Wesen der Religion in sich, sie ist in Wahrheit selbst Religion.[The old philosophy holds a two-fold truth -- the truth for its own sake that did not have any consideration for man -- philosophy --, and the truth for man -- religion.  Contrary to this, the new philosophy, as the philosophy of man, is, essentially, also the philosophy for man -- it has, not taking anything away from the dignity and independence of theory, nay, in innermost harmony with it, essentially has a practical, and that in the highest sense, practical tendency:  it takes the place of religion, it incorporates the essence of religion within itself, it is, in truth, religion, itself.](55)

This is directly targeted against Hegel's vies and has to be viewed in the context of Feuerbach's "Copernican turn", since the center of Feuerbach's "religion" is, in precise contrast to Hegel's "self-awareness of the mind" the Sinnlichkeit des wünschenden Menschen [the sensuality of desiring man], that which Hegel had demoted to the role of a "footnote"; and this view that reduces religion to feeling/emotion -- in contrast to Hegel's teleological-dynamic dialectic of the mind -- is what he tirelessly expresses in his "Theogony". 

In contrast to this, in closing, let us refer to Plato, since, already 2400 years ago, he was able to achieve a synthesis of the emotional "desiring" and the emergence of the divine in rational awareness of man who was maturing toward reason.  After all, to him this "desiring" is nothing static as is the human need in Feuerbach's psychologizing view, but rather, this desiring, as eros, is layered -- as the first one, with this, Plato points out both the phylogenetic as well as the ontogenetic development of the mind, as it can still be found in modern neurobiology, as for example, in the layered representation and reflections systems Damasio refers to.  Through Diotima, he lets Socrates demonstrate the essential momentum of eros as a "striving beyond oneself", and, with it, describes that dynamic of human mind in the individual, who both brought forth the Gods as well as the constant change of the image of God through the ages up to Feuerbach and ourselves:  And is it not this constantly emerging love of the "true, good and beautiful" (and not the striving for one's own "bliss"?) that, ultimately, in self-reflection, also lets us overcome idealism as well as all notions of Gods?(56)

"Denn dies ist die rechte Art sich auf die Liebe zu legen oder von einem Andern dazu angeführt zu werden, daß man von diesem einzelnen Schönen beginnend jenes einen Schönen wegen immer höher hinaufsteige gleichsam stufenweise von Einem zu Zweien, und von zweien zu allen schönen Gestalten, und von den schönen Gestalten zu den schönen Sitten und Handlungsweisen, und von den schönen Sitten zu den schönen Kenntnissen, bis man von den Kenntnissen endlich zu jener Kenntnis gelangt, welche von nichs anderem als eben von jenem Schönen selbst die Kenntnis ist, und man also zuletzt jenes selbst was schön ist erkenne. Und an dieser Stelle des Lebens, o lieber Sokrates, ..., wenn irgendwo, ist es dem Menschen erst lebenswert, wo er das Schöne selbst schaut, welches, wenn du es je erblickst, du nicht wirst vergleichen wollen mit köstlichem Gerät oder Schmuck, oder mit schönen Knaben und Jünglingen bei deren Anblick du jetzt entzückt bist ... Wer aber wahre Tugend erzeugt und aufzieht, dem gebührt von den Göttern geliebt zu werden, und wenn irgend einem anderen Menschen dann gewiß ihm auch unsterblich zu sein." [For it is the right way to aim at love or to be guided to it by another, so that, going out from this individual beauty, for the sake of this one beauty, one arrives, climbing every higher, level by level, from the one to two, and from two to all beautiful beings, and from the beautiful beings to the beautiful customs and actions, and from the beautiful customs to the beautiful insights, until one, from these beautiful insights, finally arrives at that insight, that is nothing but the insight into that beautiful, so that one, ultimately, can recognize that which is beautiful, oneself.  And at that stage in life, o dear Socrates, ... , if anywhere, life is only worth living to man, where he can see the beautiful, himself, which, if you will ever see it, you will not want to compare to precious goods or ornaments, or to beautiful boys at the sight of whom you are now delighted. ... However, he who brings forth and fosters real virtue, is rightfully loved by the Gods, and if any man, he is the one who should rightfully be immortal.](57)

Quoted Literature:

Ludwig Feuerbach, Gesammelte Werke, edited by Werner Schuffenhauer, Akademie-Verlag, Berlin (GW)

Karl Grün, Ludwig Feuerbach in seinem Briefwechsel und Nachlaß, C.F. Winter’sche Verlagshandlung, Leipzig & Heidelberg 1874, Vol. I+II

G.W.F. Hegel, Werke in zwanzig Bänden, Suhrkamp Verlag Frankfurt/M. 1970, Vol. 4

Platon, Symposion, Insel Taschenbuch 1404, in the translation by Friedrich Schleiermacher

E. Samter, Die Religion der Griechen, Teubner Verlag, Leipzig 1914

Hans-Martin Sass, Ludwig Feuerbach, rororo-Bildmonographie, Reinbek, b. Hamburg 1978

Friedrich Schleiermacher, Über die Religion, Reden an die Gebildeten unter ihren Verächtern, Deutsche Bibliothek in Berlin, edited by Martin Rade

Ernst Topitsch, Die Sozialphilosophie Hegels als Heilslehre und Herrschaftsideologie, Piper Verlag, München 1981

Ernst Topitsch, Im Irrgarten der Zeitgeschichte, Duncker & Humblot Verlag, Berlin 2003

Ernst Topitsch/Gerhard Streminger: Hume. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft Darmstadt 1981


(1) Grün, Bd. II, 309 (from the "Nachgelassene Aphorismen"), Feuerbach quotes: "Ich will nichts anderes geschrieben haben, nichts anderes nach meinem Tode im Andenken der Menschen zurücklassen, als die "Theogonie", oder mit anderen Worten: "Das Wesen der Religion". Und selbst von dieser einen Schrift beanspruche ich nur die Wahrheit und Richtigkeit des Grundgedankens, des Prinzips; alles Andere, Form, Ausführung, Darstellung gebe ich preis. Nur Eines will ich geleistet, nur Einen Grundgedanken ins Licht des Bewusstseins der Menschheit gesetzt haben, sonst nichts. Ich bin kein Schreiber von Profession, am wenigsten ein Viel-, Gern- und Schönschreiber. Ich schreibe nur aus Pflicht, nicht aus Lust; aus Nothwendigkeit, nicht aus Liebe und schriftstellerischer Eitelkeit" [I do not want to have written anything else, I do not want to leave anything else behind after my death than the "Theogony", or, in other words: "Das Wesen der Religion" [The Essence of Religion].  And even of this work, I only claim the truth and accuracy of the basic concept, of the principle; everything else, form, execution, presentation, I give away.  I only have to have achieved one thin, only have brought into the light of the awareness of man one basic concept, nothing else.  I am not a writer by profession, in the least a writer of much, a man who loves to be a writer, a man who loves to write beautifully.  I only write out of a sense of duty, not out of delight, out of necessity, not out of love or out of literary vanity.]

(2) Sass, Ludwig Feuerbach, p. 117:
"Feuerbach blieb in Bruckberg und schrieb über fünf Jahre von 1852 bis 1857 an seiner umfangreichen Theogonie nach den Quellen des classischen, hebräischen und christlichen Altertums, die selbst nach dem Zeugnis von Freunden wie Arnold Ruge und anderen keine neue systematische These, wohl aber neue Belege und Zitate zur alten These brachte, die Unerschöpflichkeit der Anwendbarkeit seiner reformatorischen Methode auf religionsgeschichtlichem Gebiet dokumentierend. Diesmal untermauerte Feuerbach seine Theorie der religiösen Entfremdung triebpsychologisch. Entgegen dem Urteil der Zeitgenossen verrät diese Schrift – fast 50 Jahre vor Freuds Studien zu «Totem und Tabu» – eine hohe Sensibilität für später psychoanalytisch und tiefenpsychologisch gedeutete religionspsychologische Phänomene." [Sass writes here that Feuerbach remained at Bruckberg and, for five years, from 1852 to 1857, wrote on his extensive "Theogony", based on the sources of classical, Hebrew and Christian antiquity, which, according to the testimony of friends such as Arnold Ruge and others, brought no new systematical thesis, but rather new facts and quotes to back up the old thesis and which, as Sass writes, was to document the inexhaustible and applicable nature of his reformatory method in the filed of the history of religion.  This time, writes Sass, Feuerbach backed his theory of religious alienation with psychological arguments based on human desires.  Contrary to the judgment of his concemporaries, this work shows, continues Sass, almost 50 years prior to Freud, studies on >>totem and taboo<< -- a high sensitivity for phenomena that were later interpreted psychoanalytically and on the basis of psychological phenomena related to religion.]

(3) GW, Volume 7, Theogonie nach den Quellen des klassischen, hebräischen und christlichen Altertums, Akademie-Verlag, Berlin 1969

(4) p. 3-4

(5) p. 14

(6) GW Volume 10, Kleinere Schriften III, Das Wesen der Religion, (1845) p. 4

(7) p. 19

(8) p. 28

(9) p. 32/33

(10) p. 37

(11) p. 38-39

(12) p. 42

(13) p. 43

(14) p. 47

(15) p. 55

(16) p. 84

(17) p. 97

(18) p. 101 f.: Of course, revenge is not what jurists have in mind.  "Die bürgerliche Strafe ist unterschieden von der Rache. Diese ist ein ohne einen rechtlichen Grund zugefügtes Übel." "Die bürgerliche Strafe ist ein vom Staate wegen einer begangenen Rechtsverletzung zugefügtes, durch ein Strafgesetz vorher angedrohtes sinnliches Übel" [civil punishment is different from revenge.  The latter is an evil that is being inflicted without legal foundation." ... [he quotes P.J.A. v. Feuerbach] "Rache (ultio) ist das Bestreben, denjenigen, welcher uns Unlust verursacht hat, bloß darum wieder Unlust empfinden zu lassen, weil uns sein Leiden Lust gewährt. Hierzu kann es kein Recht geben" [Revenge is the attempt to let him who has caused us displeasure feel displeasure, in return, since his displeasure provides pleasure to us.  This can not have any basis in law.].   Nevertheless, civil punishment is merely a legalized, natural child of revenge that has been adopted by the state (thus it has been turned from a private matter into a public matter), baptized with another name and draped in legal garments.  The history of criminal law is proof for that.  "Die geschichtliche Entwicklung des Strafrechts beginnt bei allen Völkern mit der Privatrache der Familien oder Stämme" [With all nations, the historical development of criminal law began with the private revenge of families or tribes.] ([P. J. A. v.] Feuerbach ...). "Hiervon sind nachher alle Strafbestimmungen ausgegangen, und Plutarch bemerkt richtig [Subsequently, from this, there went out all metering out of punishment, and Plutarch correctly observes] ... "die von Menschen verhängten Verdammungen laufen einzig aufs Wiederwehtun hinaus und kommen im Übelerleiden des Täters zur Ruhe" [the condemnations metered out by man all amount to retaliation and are quenched by the sufferings of the criminal], which means that human punishment only wants to retaliate and hurt, in turn, and only has the suffering of the criminal as its purpose. Proof of this is capital punishment that still exists, today.   What is, aside from considerations of expedience and security, which the strict concept of law disdains, seen in clear light, the last, true reason on which it is based?  The age-old law of blood vengeance.  "The blood of him who spills human blood shall be spilled, in turn."   No matter to what degree the jurist differentiates between revenge and punishment -- that theory separates in abstraction, practice and life connect and complement.  Whether the criminal falls prey to popular justice or to a painstaking trial, to the hand of a blood relative of the injured or to the executioner -- this difference only refers to the manner of execution, not to the nature of the same.  The execution of the death penalty -- however, what is a law without its execution? still evokes the same emotions out of which, originally, there arose the custom of blood revenge, even today, is still a public orgy of boodthirsty revenge.  

(19) p. 236: However, it is not necessary that the Gods dance, themselves or that they reveal certain dances to man; it is sufficient that dance has the meaning of a religious service merely for the reason that it is performed for the honor and joy of the Gods, since dance, itself, is a divine work that pleases God. (64) However, that which pleases God, man only knows from God, by means of revelation.  Thus, Phidias -- regardless whether this harkens back to a myth that developed simultaneously or after his death --, after he had completed the ornamented column of the Olympian Zeus, asked the God that he may give him a sign if the work  was to his liking, and immediately, the God showed his pleasure in it by sending down a bolt of lightning (Paus. 5, 11, 4), so that, accordingly, Dio Chrysostomus is right when he calls the ornamental columns of Phidias not only the most beautiful on earth but also that which is most beloved by the Gods ...
Anm. (64), (Seite 378/9)
"Siehe zu, ob es nicht gottlos ist", [Take heed that it is not godless", it is written in the Lucianian essay on dance 23, "eine Kunst zu tadeln, die göttlich und heilig (... zu den Mysterien gehörig), die von so vielen Göttern mit Eifer betrieben (oder geschätzt, geliebt ...) und zu ihrer Ehre ausgeübt wird, eine Kunst, die so vielen Genuß und zugleich so nützliche Belehrung (oder Bildung...) gewährt."  [to criticize an art that is divine and sacred (... belonging to the mysteries), that is practiced by many Gods eagerly (or valued, loved ...) and that is carried out in their honor, an art that provides so much enjoyment and, at the same time, such useful instruction (or education...)].  However, the passage by the author, in which he writes, "Ich tanze nur, was der Gott mir vorgetanzt", [I only dance what Gods have danced before me] is, by the say, written with a certain poetic license and to be judged accordingly; since the mimic dances, after all, portray the actions and the fates of the Gods.   However, one should not forget that the movements, positions and gestures of the Gods, in these their actions and fates, themselves, have been presented and depicted in the aesthetic form of the dance.  "Wer erkennt" [who does not recognize, for example, in the Vatican Apollo, "nicht die leibhaftige Emmeleia, den Takt und die Harmonie des tragischen Tanzes?" [the virtual Emmelaia, the rhythm and the harmony of the tragic dance? (A[nselm] Feuerbach, "Der Vatik[anische] Ap[ollo]", Nürnb. 1833, p.401 and 345).

(20) p. 125

(21) p. 127

(22) p. 136 f.; Epiktet, ancient-Greek Stoic (from about 50-13 past Christ); initially a slave in Rome, in Nicopolis, he founded his own school of philosophy.  He taught a monotheistic concept of man's relationship to God.  

(23) p. 139 f.

(24) p. 154 f.

(25) Pindar (520-445 vuZ.), Vol. II, 124, trans. by Straub, in E. Samter, Die Religion der Griechen, p. 83:

Die aber vermocht, [Those who were able,]
Dreimal in beiderlei Leben weilend, [Staying in both lives three times,]
Die Seele zu wahren unsträflich und rein, [To keep their souls blameless and chaste,]
Die wallen hinan den Weg des Zeus zu Kronos‘ Burg, [Will walk up the path of Zeus to Cronos' castle,]
Wo Lüfte des Meeres [Where the winds of the sea]
Die Insel der Sel’gen ewig umhauchen, [Are forever caressing the island of the blessed,]
Wo golden erglühen die Blumenkelche [Where golden flowers blossom]
Von leuchtenden Bäumen am Ufersaum [Near beautiful trees at the shore]
Und sprießend dort aus des Wassers Schoß, [Springing up there out of water's well] 
Davon die Gewinde [Winding their wreaths]
So flechtend sich legen um Stirn und Arm, [Thus around their heads and arms,]
Kraft Rhadamanthys‘ gerechten Spruchs. [Based on Rhadamanthys' just decree.]

Of fource, Feuerbach knew Pindar, and particularly also these songs, since he, himself, quoted from, for example, on p. 166-168 or on p. 173; however, he apparently selected his quotes in so that they back up his argument or he interpreted them in such a manner in which he wanted to see the ancient Greeks.  .  

(26) s. DER SPIEGEL of 24.12.2002, Der leere Thron, by Matthias Schulz

(27) p. 210

(28) p. 213

(29) p. 228 f.

(30) p. 237

(31) p. 239

(32) p. 240 f.

(33) p. 245

(34) p. 247

(35) p. 270 f.

(36) p. 273

(37) p. 274

(38) p. 280 f.

(39) p. 291

(40) p. 294 f.

(41) p. 302

(42) p. 305 f.

(43) p. 314 f.

(44) p. 316

(45) p. 314 f.

(46) Of course, this was also known to Feuerbach; in 1845, he himself wrote:  "Diese Abhängigkeit ist im Tier und tierischen Menschen nur eine unbewußte, unüberlegte; sie zum Bewußtsein erheben, sie sich vorstellen, beherzigen, bekennen heißt sich zur Religion erheben." [In the animal and in animal-like man, this dependency is only an unconscious, unreflected one; to elevate it to awareness, to imagine it, to heed it, to confess to it means to rive to the level of religion.] GW Band 10, Kleinere Schriften III, Das Wesen der Religion, p. 5. Oddly enough, in his "Theogony" he did not discuss this basic fact with one word.  

(47) Ernst Topitsch/Gerhard Streminger, Hume, p. 140

(48) Italics by the author.

(49) Topitsch, Im Irrgarten der Zeitgeschichte, p. 19

(50) s. Aufklärung und Kritik 1/1997, p. 61ff. respectively on the internet at in the respective issue as well as at

(51) Actually, Feuerbach knew this, too:  "Der Unterschied der heidnischen und christlichen Menschenvergötterung" [The Difference between the pagan and Christian deification of man], GW Bd. 9, p. 413-419: "Das Heidentum betet die Eigenschaften, das Christentum das Wesen des Menschen an" [Paganism worships attributes of man, Christianity worships the essence of man] (414) "Der Heide ist daher ein Abgötter, denn er erhebt sich nicht wie der Christ zu dem Wesen des Menschen als solchen er vergöttert bestimmte Eigenschaften, bestimmte Individualitäten -- nur Bilder des menschlichen Wesens. Der Heide ist Polytheist, denn die Eigenschaften, wegen welcher er ein menschliches Individuum vergöttert, sind nicht auf dieses einzige beschränkt, sondern kommen auch vielen andern Individuen zu; aber der Christ ist Monotheist, denn das Wesen des Menschen ist nur eines. Der Heide hat geschlechtliche und nationelle Götter; aber vor dem Gott der Christen gilt weder Jude noch Heide, weder Mann noch Weib: Vor Gott sind alle Menschen gleich." [In this, pagan man is an idol worshipper, since he does not, as Christian man does, elevate himself to the essence of man as such, rather, he idolizes certain attributes, certain individualities -- only images of man's essence.  Pagan man is a polytheist since the attributes for which he idolizes a human individual are not limited to that individual, but rather also occur in many other individuals; Christian man, however, is a monotheist, since the essence of man is only one.  Pagan man has Gods with genders and national Gods, while, before the God of Christian man, neither Jew nor Pagan nor man nor woman count:  before him, all humans are equal.] (416) See also Grün, Vol. I, p. 121, and Vol. II, p. 93 "Zur "Theogonie" [On Theogony]: "Am deutlichsten sehen wir aus der Polemik der Kirchenväter gegen die Heiden, wie sich der Monotheismus mit Nothwendigkeit aus dem Polytheismus ergibt, in Folge derselben Gesetze der Logik, mit denen sich aus irgend einer Menge gleichartiger Individuen der Begriff der Gattung bildet" [In the polemics against the pagans on the part of the church fathers we can most clearly see how monotheism necessarily arises out of polytheism, as a consequence of the same laws of logic, by which, out of a crowd of similar individuals, the concept of a type arises].

(52) and, with respect to this, advocates an atomistic materialism of the kind that Democrit also advocated. 

(53) Schleiermacher, Über die Religion

(54) Hegel, Werke, Vol. 4, p. 282

(55) Ludwig Feuerbach, Die Grundsätze der Philosophie der Zukunft, GW Vol. 9, p. 340

(56) A stage along this path of dissolution of the divine is the position of Kant, who, by the way, knew Hume's writings well, and in whose transcendental philosophy, God is only present as a postulate respectively as an "as-if" concept:  As a demand of reasonable man that the world order has to be conceptualized in such a manner as if something "like God" exists. 

(57) Platon, Symposion, 211 a – 212 a, p. 151/153

Translation: Ingrid Schwägermann, Edmonton/Kanada - der mein herzlichen Dank dafür gilt.

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