It’s “Alimentary”

Feuerbach and the Dietetics of Antisemitism
  • Jay Geller

Abstract

Unlike the extensive discussion and analysis devoted to Ludwig Feuerbach’s Essence of Christianity2 and his anthropological materialism, Feuerbach’s later “Diet-materialism”3 has been marginalized, if not outright ignored.4 The Feuerbach who so influenced Marx by bringing the speculative dialectic from its transcendent perch down to earth by locating the working of the dialectic in the mystification, alienation, and objectification (or projection, Vergegenstandlichung) of human sensibility and sensuousness is well known. Less well known is the thinker who shifted from seeing human interaction with the external world in the facultative terms of reason, will, and heart to physiological terms such as digestion: the world is incorporated—digested—by the human and thereby transformed into human consciousness. In Feuerbach’s later work, “eating” (das Essen) replaced “love” (die Liebe)5 as the master trope of human speciesbeing, of the relationship between body and mind, between self and other. Drawing upon the insights of the Greeks before him, who defined animals, gods, and humanity (as well as other peoples) by what they ate, respectively raw food, ambrosia, and bread, Feuerbach would define the human by that fundamental physiological process and practice.6 Emblematic of this change was his punning coinage of the apothegm, “you are what you eat” (Der Mensch ist, was er isst: lit. man is what he eats; 1850).

Keywords

Europe Expense Manure Dien Dine 

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Das Wesen des Christentums, vol. 5 of Ludwig Feuerbach, Gesammelte Werke, Werner Schuffenhauer, ed., 20 vols. (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 1967—); first edition, 1841; second expanded edition, 1843; third reworked and expanded edition, 1849. Eng. trans.: The Essence of Christianity, George Eliot, trans. (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1989).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    The term is borrowed from Marx Wartofsky, Feuerbach (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), 416.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Cf. the dismissive Eugene Kamenka, The Philosophy of Ludwig Feuerbach (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1970); and the absence of discussion inVan A. Harvey, Feuerbach and the Interpretation of Religion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).Google Scholar
  4. 11.
    Cf. Julius Carlebach, Karl Marx and the Radical Critique of Judaism (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978), 104–108; Paul Lawrence Rose, Revolutionary Antisemitism in Germany. From Kant to Wagner (Princeton: Princeton University press, 1990); and with the correct translation, Jacob Katz, From Prejudice to Destruction. Anti-Semitism, 1700–1933 (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980), 162–164.Google Scholar
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    Cit. Menahem Stern, ed., Greek and Latin Authors on Jews and Judaism, 3 vols. (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1980), vol. 2: 98–99.Google Scholar
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    Richard Andree, Zur Volkskunde der Juden (Bielefeld: Velhagen und Klasing, 1881), 68–69.Though obviously not a source for Feuerbach, his work serves as a reasonable indicator of the availability of these antisemitic representations and discourses to an educated non-Jew of the nineteenth century such as Feuerbach.Google Scholar
  7. 16.
    Cf. Gustav Jaeger, Entdeckung der Seele, vol. 1, third edition (Leipzig: W. Kohlhammer, 1884), 113; vol. 2 appeared some two decades later.Google Scholar
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    Johann Jakob Schudt, Judische Merkwurdigkeiten (Frankfurt, 1714), 349.Google Scholar
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    Heinrich Heine, The Rabbi of Bacharach, in Elizabeth Petuchowski, Jewish Stories and Melodies, ed. (NewYork: Marcus Wiener, 1987), 76.Google Scholar
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    In Paul Mendes-Flohr and Jehuda Reinharz, eds., The Jew in the Modern World, 2d ed. (NewYork: Oxford University Press, 1995), 52.Google Scholar
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    Knoblich, Knoblich, toffes Gwarz / Stärkst dien Juden Sinn unn Harz, / Unn giebst ihn die ganze Wuch / Aechten, koschern, Jiideng’ruch; cit. Eduard Fuchs, Die Juden in der Karikatur. Ein Beitrag zur Kulturgeschichte (Munich:Verlag Albert Langen, 1921), 282.Google Scholar
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    Claudine Fabre-Vassas, The Singular Beast: Jews, Christians, and the Pig, Carol Volk, trans. (New york: Columbia University Press, 1997), 92–94.Google Scholar
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    Isaiah Shachar, The Judensau: A Medieval Anti-Jewish Motif and Its History (London: The Warburg Institute, 1974) illustrates this trajectory with over one hundred images of Jews with and as pigs. Hrabanus passage translated on p. 70.Google Scholar
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    In Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Schriften und Briefe, F. H. Mautner, ed., 4 vols. (Frankfurt/M: Insel, 1983), vol. 2,117.Google Scholar
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    Heinrich Graetz, History of the Jews, Bella Lowy, trans., 6 vols. (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1891–1898) 2:203.Google Scholar
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    Isaak Markus Jost, Geschichte des Judenthums und seine Sekten, 3 vols. (Leipzig: Dorffling und Franke, 1857–1859), 1:129.Google Scholar
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    “Arguments Against Dohm,” in Mendes-Flohr and Reinharz, Jew in the Modern World, 42–43. Originally appeared in Orientalische und Exegetische Bibliotek, 19 (1782).Google Scholar
  18. 39.
    Letter 282, in Feuerbach, Briefwechsel II, vol. 18 of Gesammelte Werke, 150–152; Daumer, Der Feuer- und Molochdienst der alten Hebraer als urvaterlicher, legaler, orthodoxer Kultus der nation, historisch-kritisch nachgewiesen (Braunschweig: F. Otto, 1842); Ghillany, Die Menschenopfer der alten Hebraer (Nurnberg, 1842).Google Scholar
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    Letter 347, in Feuerbach, Briefwechsel II (1840–1844), vol. 18 of Gesammelte Werke 243–247. This accusation of the necessity for the consumption of the blood of non-Jews during Purim was quite recently reiterated in a 10 March 2003 column in the Saudi government-supported newspaper Al- Riyadh. Dr. Umayma Ahmad Al-Jalahma of King Faisal University discussed the use of blood in Purim pastries.Google Scholar
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    Cf. Rainer Erb and Werner Bergmann, Die Nachseite der Judenemanzipation: der Widerstand gegen die Integration der Juden in Deutschland 1780–1860 (Berlin: Metropol, 1989).Google Scholar
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    Cf. Feuerbach’s 28 June 1844 letter to his brother Friedrich (in Briefwechsel 18: 361); and Francesco Tomasoni, “Heidentum und Judentum: Vom scharfsten Gegensatz zur Annaherung. Eine Entwicklungslinie vom Wesen des Christentums bis zur Theogonie,” in Ludwig Feuerbach und die Geschichte der Philosophie, Walter Jaeschke and Francesco Tomasoni, ed. (Berlin: Akadamie Verlag, 1998), esp. 157–163.Google Scholar

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© Christopher E. Forth and Ana Carden-Coyne 2005

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  • Jay Geller

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