The Owl of Minerva 14 (2):8-9 (1982)

Daniel Dahlstrom
Boston University
The jumble of themes contained in Feuerbach’s Gedanken über Tod und Unsterblichkeit testify to the youthfulness of a work published when its author was a mere 26. These “thoughts” contain a scathing polemic against the veiled egoism of pietism and rationalism, an off-beat blend of Jacob Boehme’s theosophical mysticism with Lucretius’ arguments against personal immortality, and unique renditions of Hegel’s conceptions of nature, history, and God. There is even a somewhat tedious attempt to disprove the possibility of extraterrestial living beings! Yet these Todesgedanken were enormously significant in Feuerbach’s own life and intellectual development and in the development of Hegel’s philosophy after the latter’s death. The easy discovery of their authorship cost Feuerbach his academic career but they also helped him crystallize an idea of human beings’ true destiny which prompted his decision to become a writer. That destiny is death or, better, the genuine courage and love and earthly immortality that death alone makes possible. “True religion, true humility, true and complete surrender to and submersion in God is possible only when the human being recognizes death as true, real, and entire”. The appeal and importance of Feuerbach’s Todesgedanken lie in its impassioned, non-theist testimony to this speculative significance of death.
Keywords Major Philosophers
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ISBN(s) 0030-7580
DOI 10.5840/owl198214212
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