HFIA03547U FILO, Philosophy and Religion 2: 19th-century philosophy of religion

Årgang 2013/2014
Engelsk titel

Philosophy and Religion 2: 19th-century philosophy of religion

Kandidatuddannelse i Filosofi

Philosophical critiques of religion from Kant to Nietzsche


Throughout the 19th century, the philosophical enquiry into the nature of religion is established as one of the primary points of departure in philosophy. A major achievement during this period is a change in the general philosophical approach to religion, from a mere critique of religious arguments to a profound analysis of the metaphysics of religion which not only defines theological dogmas and religious rituals performed in everyday life, but reaches into man’s ethical and existential orientation, subsequently into the core of philosophical and scientific thinking itself.

The main focus will be on the general experience of the declining plausibility of Christianity (and all other religions) as legitimate basis for ethical, existential or psychological orientation in the late 18th century, as the main motive for new interpretations of the phenomenon of religion. In G.W.F. Hegel’s (1770-1830) philosophical system, religion is seen as a specific stage within the historical development of spirit. In both L. Feuerbach’s (1804-1872) and K. Marx’ (1818-1883) materialism this historic approach is altered into a genuine critique of the religious consciousness as a premature consciousness and seen as the point of departure for socio-political criticism. In Nietzsche’s (1844-1900) philosophy the different methods of the historic-critical Theology and Philosophy (e.g. David Friedrich Strauss 1808-1874, Ernest Renan 1823-1892) are brought together in a genuine genealogy of the metaphysics of Christianity carried out using both psychological, existential and anthropological approaches. Nietzsche’s radical hypothesis is that Platonic metaphysics, Jewish-Christian Monotheism and Scientific Rationality are intertwined in an inescapable way, which reaches into the constitution of thinking itself. Consequently Nietzsche suggest that our way of thinking is even deeper situated in the structures of language and thereby anticipates essential arguments in the 20th century philosophy.



We will read excerpts from G.W.F. Hegel Phenomenology of Spirit, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion. L. Feuerbach: The Essence of Christianity, K. Marx: On the Jewish Question, A Contribution to the Critique of Hegels Philosophy of Right, F. Nietzsche: Beyond Good and evil. Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future,On the Genealogy of Morality, The Antichrist.
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