'Elementary aesthetics', hedonist ethics: the philosophical foundations of Feuerbach’s late works

History of European Ideas 34 (3):298-309 (2008)
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Abstract

In contrast to the conventional view of Ludwig Feuerbach as a left-wing Young Hegelian, this article argues that his primary contribution to philosophy is to be found in his later ethics, the basis of which may be discerned in his earlier writings. Over and above recent work on Feuerbach's aesthetics, his relation to Herder, and the relationship between aesthetics and ‘theological politics’ in his thought, Feuerbach's philosophy can re-evaluated, in relation to Epicurus and the French libertin tradition, as articulating an ethics of hedonism. In The Essence of Christianity , the Nachlass fragment ‘Elementary Aesthetics’ , and his Principles of the Philosophy of the Future Feuerbach moves towards the vitalist materialist position that culminates in his insight in ‘Against the Dualism of Body and Soul, Flesh and Spirit’ into the world as an ‘aesthetic phenomenon’, thus laying the foundations for his recognition of the centrality of sensuous pleasure to the ethical life

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