Rachel Brown on JBP and Belief in God


Notes from Philip Cary’s “Philosophy and Religion in the West”

Lecture Twenty-Four Marx and the Hermeneutics of Suspicion
Scope: Karl Marx, the founding figure of communism, began his career as a follower of the “left-wing” Hegelian, Ludwig Feuerbach, who believed that philosophical subsumption of religion revealed the latter as a form of alienated consciousness: religion “projects” everything that is essential to humanity onto an unreal eternal God. Marx proposed a materialist version of the Hegelian dialectic, in which the logic of history was driven by conflicts between social classes rather than ideas. Religion, law, politics and philosophy belong to a cultural “superstructure” built on a fundamental “base” of socio-economic exploitation and alienated labor. Thus Marx formulates a hermeneutics of suspicion, interpreting cultural phenomena (including religion) in terms of the hidden social and economic interests they serve. Freud devised a psychological version of a hermeneutics of suspicion, according to which religion gives distorted expression to instinctual needs and unconscious conflicts.

I. Feuerbach: Religion as Alienation and Projection

A. Left-wing Hegelians

1. The philosophical successors of Hegel split on the issue of the philosophical status of religion: when philosophy subsumes religion, does it cancel Christianity (the left-wing view) or preserve it (the right-wing view)?
2. The “left-wing” Hegelians were critics of religion, who thought religion was a form of unfreedom from which philosophy should criticize in order to liberate humanity.

B. Feuerbach’s Projection Theory of Religion

1. Ludwig Feuerbach was a left-wing Hegelian who argued that the idea of God as an Other is really an alienation of what is essential to humanity.
2. Hence Feuerbach’s “projection theory” of religion: the concept of God is really an imaginary projection of the human essence into heaven (we make God in our own image).


About PaulVK

Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
This entry was posted in Daily Links and Notes. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s