Frederick Engels

Feuerbach [3]

Source: MECW Volume 5, p. 11;
Written: probably in the autumn of 1845;
First published: in 1932 in Marx/Engels, Gesamtausgabe, Erste Abteilung, Bd. 5

a) The entire philosophy of Feuerbach amounts to 1. philosophy of nature-passive adoration of nature and enraptured kneeling down before its splendour and omnipotence. 2. Anthropology, namely [a] physiology, where nothing new is added to what the materialists have already said about the unity of body and soul, but it is said less mechanically and with rather more exuberance, [b] psychology, which amounts to dithyrambs glorifying love, analogous to the cult of nature, apart, from that nothing new. 3. Morality, the demand to live up to the concept of “man”, [cf. Ludwig Feuerbach, Grundsätze der Philosophie der Zukunft, § 52] impuissance mise en action. [powerlessness set in motion. Charles Fourier, Théorie des quatre mouvements, et des destinées générales, deuxième partie] Compare §54, p. 81: “The ethical and rational attitude of man to his stomach consists in treating it not as something bestial but as something human.” — §61: “Man ... as a moral being” and all the talk about morality in Das Wesen des Christenthums.

b) The fact that at the present stage of development men can satisfy their needs only within society, that in general from the very start, as soon as they came into existence, men needed one another and could only develop their needs and abilities, etc., by entering into intercourse[11] with other men, this fact is expressed by Feuerbach in the following way:

“Isolated man by himself has not the essence of man in himself “the essence of man is contained only in the community, in the unity of man and man, a unity, however, which depends only on the reality of the difference between I and you. — Man by himself is man (in the ordinary sense), man and man, the unity of I and you, is God” (i.e., man in the supra-ordinary sense) (§§ 61, 62, p. 83).

Philosophy has reached a point when the trivial fact of the necessity of intercourse between human beings — a fact without a knowledge of which the second generation that ever existed would never have been produced, a fact already involved in the sexual difference — is presented by philosophy at the end of its entire development as the greatest result. And presented, moreover, in the mysterious form of “the unity of 1 and you”. This phrase would have been quite impossible had Feuerbach not kat exochn [mainly] thought of the sexual act, the conjugal act, the community of I and you. (For, since the human being = brain + heart, and two are necessary to represent the human being, one of them personifies the brain in their intercourse, the other the heartman and woman. Otherwise it would be impossible to understand why two persons are more human than one.[ Cf. Ludwig Feuerbach, Grundsätze der Philosophie der Zukunft, § 58] Saint-Simonist individual.[4]) And insofar as his community becomes real it is moreover limited to the sexual act and to arriving at an understanding about philosophical ideas and problems, to “true dialectics” (§ 64), to dialogue, to “the procreation of man, both spiritual and physical man” (p. 67). What this “procreated’ man does afterwards, apart from again “spiritually” and “physically” “procreating men”, is not mentioned. Feuerbach only knows intercourse between two beings,

“the truth that no being on its own is a true, perfect, absolute being, that truth and perfection is only the association, the unity of two beings that are essentially alike” (pp. 83, 84).

c) The beginning of the Philosophie der Zukunft immediately shows the difference between us and him:

§ 1: “The task of modern times was the realisation and humanisation of God, the transformation and dissolution of theology into anthropology.” Cf. “The negation of theology is the essence of modern times” (Philosophie der Zukunft, p. 23).

d) The distinction that Feuerbach makes between Catholicism and Protestantism in §2 — Catholicism: “theology” “is concerned with what God is in himself”, it has a “tendency towards speculation and contemplation”; Protestantism is merely Christology, it leaves God to himself and speculation and contemplation to philosophy — this distinction is nothing but a division of labour arisen from a need appropriate to immature science. Feuerbach explains Protestantism merely from this need within theology, whereupon an independent history of philosophy naturally follows.

e) “Being is not a general concept which can be separated from things. It is identical with the things that exist.... Being is posited by essence. What my essence is, is my being. The fish is in the water, but its essence cannot be separated from this being. Even language identifies being and essence. It is only in human life that being is divorced from essence — but only in exceptional, unfortunate case — only there is it possible that a person’s essence is not in the place where he is, but it is precisely because of this division that his spirit is not truly in the place where his body actually is. Only where your heart is, there you are. But all things — apart from abnormal cases — like to be in the place where they are, and like to be what they are” (p. 47).

A fine panegyric upon the existing state of things! Apart from abnormal cases, a few exceptional cases, you like to work from your seventh year as a door-keeper in a coal-mine, remaining alone in the dark for fourteen hours a day, and because it is your being therefore it is also your essence. The same applies to a piecer at a self-actor.a It is your “essence” to be subservient to a branch of labour. Cf. Das Wesen des Glaubens, p. 11, “unsatisfied hunger” ...

f) § 48, p. 73. “Time is the only means that makes it possible without contradiction to combine opposite or contradictory determinations in a single being. This applies at all events to living beings. Only thus does here — for example in man — the contradiction make its appearance that now this determination, this resolution, dominates and occupies me, and then a quite different and diametrically opposed determination.”

Feuerbach describes this as 1) a contradiction, 2) a combination of contradictions, and 3) alleges that time brings this about. Indeed time “filled” with events, but still time, and not that which takes place during this time. The proposition amounts to the statement: it is only in time that change is possible.