Christoph Hesse

Falko Schmieder: Ludwig Feuerbach und der Eingang der klassischen Fotografie

Zum Verhältnis von anthropologischem und Historischem Materialismus

When Ludwig Feuerbach set forth his Principles of Philosophy of the Future in 1843, he might
not have foreseen that the future of his own philosophy would pretty soon be crucially
determined by Karl Marx. Ever since, Feuerbach is best remembered as an ‘intermediate link
between Hegelian philosophy and our conception’ (Friedrich Engels), while his own
endeavours toward a reformation of philosophy have largely fallen into oblivion. Historians,
not only Marxists, would recognise him as an unlucky godfather that suddenly fell from
grace. After Marx had become outright enthusiastic about the critique of speculative
idealism, which Feuerbach exposed as a sophisticated continuation of customary religious
thoughts, he just as harshly dismissed Feuerbach’s supposedly deficient materialism once
and for all. As for Marx, it was Feuerbach whom he henceforth used to treat as a ‘dead dog’.
And so did numerous Marxists in his wake.
It was not until the early 1970s that Feuerbach’s philosophy would be rediscovered as a
fresh source of critical theory. Most notably, Alfred Schmidt, so as to provide the concept of
Historical Materialism with a more vivid foundation, seized on Feuerbach’s anthropological
materialism in terms of an emancipatory sensuousness. He reviewed notions such as nature
or production, central to both the Marxian concept of history and the critique of political
economy, with particular regard to the needy human beings doomed to make history under
different, yet invariably difficult circumstances. His own clearly Marxist approach
notwithstanding, Schmidt eventually established Feuerbach as a distinguished materialist
philosopher beyond the cliché of the helpful intermediary between Hegel and Marx.
Now Falko Schmieder is digging a little deeper into the tangly relationship between
Feuerbach’s anthropological materialism and the Historical Materialism established by Marx
and Engels.