It’s “Alimentary”

Feuerbach and the Dietetics of Antisemitism
  • Jay Geller


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).


Ontological Claim Human Sacrifice Ritual Murder Jewish Publication Society Blood Libel 
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© Christopher E. Forth and Ana Carden-Coyne 2005

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  • Jay Geller

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