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In this project I call for a reconsideration of Feuerbach's place in philosophy and the study of religion. His name is recognizable in these fields usually as a marginal or "bridge" figure, facilitating a shift from one thinker to the next. I suggest that the automatic association of Feuerbach with Left Hegelianism and/or psychological interpretations of religion obscure the greater insights of his model of religious consciousness. Feuerbach's desire to revise the anti-natural and speculative tendencies of both philosophy and theology was at the cornerstone of his fundamental project. This effort was first directed towards Hegelian idealism, but grew into a larger critique of Christianity and religious consciousness in general. His criticism of religion is not due to a specific condemnation of the divine, but the extent to which it is born out of speculative presuppositions. This indicates the presence of an important theme in Feuerbach's work outside of Hegel and I argue that naturalism filled this role. Interestingly, this also demonstrates a link between the seemingly disparate goals of Feuerbach's humanism and Luther's theology. Luther's observations of religious consciousness provided a vision of naturalism and passivity in his description of the human being's experience of existing before God. Feuerbach also saw in this a profound paradox regarding the relationship between God and human being. His reflections provide the contemporary theorist with ways to reconcile many of the problematic aspects of the rationalist-dualist model that pervades Western philosophy, particularly in the effort to reconsider the foundations of religious self-identity in the post-metaphysical age. Ultimately this places his project in dialogue more appropriately with contemporary studies in pragmatism and phenomenology rather than Hegelian or Freudian thought.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Religion in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
John Kelsay, Professor Directing Dissertation; Daniel Maier-Katkin, Outside Committee Member; Martin Kavka, Committee Member; Sumner B. Twiss, Committee Member; Amanda Porterfield, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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