rounded top left corner

In defence of Feuerbach's Moleschott reception:
Feuerbach's open dialectic

This paper, published in German, is a defence of a certain aspect of Feuerbach's late philosophy. I argue that we can only understand Feuerbach's Moleschott reception, and the attendant writings on food, within the context of dialectical philosophy.

But, this dialectic is no longer Hegelian, for the Feuerbachian dialectic strives to recognise its terms as irreducible. Feuerbach certainly maintains the subject's logical dependency on objectivity and vice versa, but he equally recognises the subject as this actual I - me - here and now, and not as the abstract ideal Ich. Hence, Feuerbach fleshes out the subject's logical dependency on objectivity into what he sees as real or anthropological dependency.

As a real and not simply a logical, negative, and rational dependency in which alterity is recouped as negative moments of the self, alterity instead appears as positive and irreducibly in community with the self. In short, he suggests a system wherein difference actually exists and is not overcome by thinking, and thus a system in which subjectivity does not sublate the other, but also within which the other does not sublate the subject. I claim that this dialectic has much in common with Aquinas' notion of conveniens, i.e. fittingness.

Feuerbach thus allows for what William Desmond is to call an 'open dialectic' of true intermediation, as opposed to a closed dialectic that only results in the mere return to self of the absolute, whether that be Hegel's Idee, Schopenhauer's Wille, or Nietzsche's Wille zur Macht. Accordingly, the subject and the object are "seperate and yet irrefragably connected."

This non-reductive dialectic is seen most clearly in what one eats: for, der Mensch ist, was er isst. One becomes what one eats, without becoming what one eats.

Published as: "Verteidigung von Feuerbachs Moleschott Rezeption: Feuerbachs offene Dialektik." Identitaet und Pluralismus in der globalen Gesellschaft. Ludwig Feuerbach zum 200. Geburtstag. Ed. U. Reitemeyer, T. Shibata, and F. Tomasoni. Waxmann Verlag: Muenster / New York, 2006.

German-language original of this article
English-language version of this article
Publisher's page for the book
Last update: April 18, 2007