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By David West

ISBN-10: 0745611850

ISBN-13: 9780745611853

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I f reUgion is false, it is not for that matter worthless. The negation of reUgion does not leave us with nothing, but rather suggests a positive, determinate outcome - in effect, a higher dialectical stage. According to Feuerbach, although reUgion is literally false, it is nevertheless deeply rooted in human needs. I f religion is not the product of divine revelation but of humanity itself, then it must also reflect human needs and aspirations. e. contemplated and revered as another, a distinct being.

In fact, theology is by no means preferable to reUgion. ReUgion is the 'real essence' or 'content' which contains distorted truths about humanity, whereas theology is the 'false es­ sence' or 'form' ofreUgion and involves an even more intense and selfconscious alienation of human capacities. Philosophy should not imitate theology in its attempt to produce a systematic reconstruction of the universe in ideas, but should rather be critical and materialist. Idealism, with its abstract and universal notions, remains too close to religion.

The dialectic culminates with the selfreflective appropriation of the whole process of spirit's dialectical development by philosophy or, more precisely, Hegel's own philoso­ phy. Philosophy brings spirit to the fullest and most fully rational selfconsciousness - a self-consciousness equivalent to the highest possible realization offreedom. '5s I n Hegel's terms, our knowledge of the world turns out to be just one moment in the unfolding self-consciousness of spirit in its manifold forms. The outcome of Hegel's novel approach to philosophy is thus a form of ideaUsm.

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An Introduction to Continental Philosophy by David West


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