Atheism of Suspicion

Karl Marx on religion

Philosophy, so long as a drop of blood pulses in its world-dominating, absolutely free heart, will always call out against its adversaries the cry of Epicurus: "Blasphemous is not he who scorns the gods of the masses, but he who imputes the ideas of the masses to the gods."

[attributes] Philosophy does not make a secret of it. The confession of Prometheus: "In a word, I entirely hate all and every god," is its own confession, its own aphorism against all divine and earthly gods who do not acknowledge human self-consciousness as the highest divinity. It allows no rival. But to those sad March hares who rejoice over the seemingly worsened social position of philosophy, it replies again as did Prometheus to the god-serving Hermes:

I would never change the state of my calamitous fate for your servitude; hear well, I would never change. Better it is to be the slave of this rock than to serve Father Zeus as a messenger-boy. * -from Aeschylus, Prometheus V
Prometheus is the most eminent saint and martyr in the philosophic calendar. p 248
-Philosophy above Religion, from Foreword of Marx's doctoral dissertation,
"the Difference between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature" 1841.

Hence Epicurus is the greatest enlightener, and he deserves the eulogy bestowed upon him by Lucretius:

Humana ante oculos foedo quum vita jaceret,
In terreis oppressa gravi sub relligione,
Quae caput a coeli regionibus ostendebat,
Horribili super aspectu mortalibus instans:

Primum Grajus homo mortaleis tollere contra
Est oculus ausus, primusque obsistere contra;
Quem nec fama Deum nec fulmina nec minitanti
Murmure compressit coelum. ...
Quare relligio pedibus subjecta vicissim
Obteritur, nos exaequat victoria coelo.

* Lucretius, De Rerum Natura:
When, before the eyes of men, disgraceful life on earth was bowed
by the burden of oppressive religion, which extended its head from
the high regions of heaven, and with gruesome grotesqueness frightfully threatened mankind,
a Greek first ventured to raise his mortal eye against the monster and boldly resisted it.
Neither the fable of god, nor lightning nor thunder of heaven,
scared him with their threat. ...
Thus, as in reprisal, religion lies at our feet, completely defeated,
but us, triumph raises us up to heaven.

[translation by SKP] p 251-Epicurus' Natural Philosophy,
from the conclusion of Marx's doctoral dissertation

To give our saint [Max Stirner] some indication of the real base on which the philosophy of Epicurus rests, it is sufficient to mention that the idea that the State rests on the mutual agreement of people, on a contrat social, is found for the first time in Epicurus.
... Epicurus, on the other hand, was the true radical Enlightener of antiquity; he openly attacked the ancient religion and it was from him, too, that the atheism of the Romans, insofar as it existed, was derived. For this reason, too, Lucretius praised Epicurus as the hero who was the first to overthrow the gods and trample religion underfoot; for this reason among all church elders, from Plutarch to Luther, Epicurus has always had the reputation of being the atheist philosopher par excellence and was called a swine; for which reason, too, Clement of Alexandria says that when Paul takes up arms against philosophy he has in mind Epicurean philosophy alone. p 252
- Epicurus, "the Radical Enlightener," from the German Ideology, pp 149-50

For Germany, the criticism of religion has been essentially completed, and the criticism of religion is the presupposition of all criticism. ...

The basis of irreligious criticism is: Man makes religion, religion does not make man. And indeed, religion is the self-awareness and self-regard of man who either has not yet found or has already lost himself again. But man is not an abstract being, crouching outside the world. Man is the world of men, the state, society. This state, this society, produce religion, which is an inverted world consciousness because they are an inverted world. Religion is the general theory of that world, its encyclopedic compendium, its logic in popular form, its spiritual point d'honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, its general ground of consolation and justification. It is the fantastic realization of the human being because the human being possesses no true reality. The struggle against religion is therefore indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion.

["Religion is the opiate of the masses."/ "Religion is the opium of the masses." = ]

Religious misery is in one way the expression of real misery, and in another a protest against real misery. Religion is the sigh of the afflicted creature, the soul of a heartless world, as it is also the spirit of spiritless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the world is the demand for their real happiness. The demand to abandon the illusions about their condition is the demand to give up a condition that requires illusions. Hence criticism of religion is in embryo a criticism of this vale of tears whose halo is religion.

Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers from the chain, not for the purpose of enabling man to wear the existing chain without fantasy or consolation, but to make him cast off the chain and pluck the living flower. The criticism of religion disillusions man so that he thinks, acts, and shapes his reality like a disillusioned man who has come to his senses, so that he revolves around himself and thereby around his real sun. Religion is only the illusory sun that revolves around man so long as he does not revolve around himself.
It is, therefore, the task of history, after the otherworldly truth has disappeared, to establish the truth of this world. It is the immediate task of philosophy, which stands in the service of history, to expose human self-alienation in its unholy form after it has been unmasked in its holy form. Criticism of heaven thus is transformed into criticism of earth, criticism of religion into criticism of law, and criticism of theology into criticism of politics. ...

The weapon of criticism, to be sure, cannot replace the criticism of weapons; material force must be overthrown by material force, but theory itself becomes a material force as soon as the masses grip it. Theory is capable of gripping the masses when it demonstrates ad hominem, and it demonstrates ad hominem when it becomes radical. To be radical is to grasp things by the root. But for man, the root is man himself. The clear proof of the radicalism of German theory, and hence of its practical energy, is that it issues from the decisive, positive suspension of religion. The criticism of religion ends with the doctrine that man is the highest being for man, hence with the categorical imperative to overthrow all conditions in which man is a degraded, enslaved, abandoned, contemptible being ... p 286-7
Criticism of Religion is the Presupposition of All Criticism,
from "Toward the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Law. Introduction," written at the end of 1843 and early 1844;
published in Deutsch-Französische Jahrbücher 1844;
in Karl Marx on Religion, by Saul K. Padover, pp 35-7 (McGraw Hill: 1974)

On the other hand, this act of superseding is a transcending of the thought entity; thus private property as a thought is transcended in the thought of morality. p 291

It is not time to lay hold of the positive aspects of the Hegelian dialectic within the realm of estrangement:
(a) Annulling as an objective movement of retracing the alienation into self. This is the insight, expressed within the estrangement, concerning the appropriation of the objective essence through the annulment of its estrangement; it is the estranged insight into the real objectification of man, into the real appropriation of his objective essence through the annihilation of the estranged character of the objective world, through the annulment of the objective world, through the annulment of the objective world in its estranged mode of being -- just as atheism, being the annulment of God, is the advent of theoretical humanism; and communism, as the annulment of private property, is the justification of real human life as man's possession and thus the advent of practical humanism (or just as atheism is humanism mediated with itself through the annulment of religion, while communism is humanism mediated with itself through the annulment of private property). Only through the annulment of this mediation -- which is itself, however, a necessary premise -- does positively self-deriving humanism, positive humanism, come into being.But atheism and communism are no fiight, no abstraction; they are not a losing of the objective world begotten by man -- of man's essential powers given over to the realm of objectivity; they are not a returning in poverty to unnatural, primitive simplicity. On the contrary, they are but the first real coming-to-be, the realization become real for man, of man's essence-of the essence of man as something real. p 291-2
Hegel and "Religion as Alienated Human Self-Consciousness", - from "Critique of the Hegelian Dialectic and Philosophy as a Whole," Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, pp 148-53 (Progress: Moscow 1959)

Pierre Bayle not only prepared the reception of materialism and the philosophy of common sense in France by shattering metaphysics with his skepticism. He heralded atheistic society, which was soon to come to existence, by proving that a society consisting only of atheists is possible, that an atheist can be a respectable man, and that it is not by atheism but by superstition and idolatry that man debases himself. p 300

Just as Hobbes did away with the theistic prejudices in Bacon's materialism, so Collins, Dodwell, Coward, Hartley, Priestley, and others broke down the last bounds of Locke's sensualism. For materialists, at least, deism is no more than a convenient and easy way of getting rid of religion. p 302

If correctly understood interest is the principle of all morality, man's private interest must be made to coincide with the interest of humanity. If man is not free in the materialist sense, i.e., free not through the negative power to avoid this or that, but through the positive power to assert his true individuality, crime must not be punished in the individual, but the antisocial source of crime must be destroyed, and each man must be given social scope for the vital manifestation of his being. p 303
- Materialism, from the Holy Family, pp 167-77

Feuerbach starts out from the fact of religious self-alienation, the duplication of the world into a religious and a secular one. His work consists in the dissolution of the religious world in its secular foundation. But the fact that the secular foundation lifts itself and establishes an independent realm in the clouds can be explained only by the self-dismemberment and the self-contradiction of this secular basis. ... Thus, for example, after the earthly family is discovered to be the mystery of the holy family, the former must first itself be destroyed in theory and practice. p 305
-Theses on Feuerbach, spring 1845, Brussels; appendix to Engel's Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy (1888)

the Essential Marx: the non-economic writings--a selection,
edited with new translations by Saul K. Padover (Mentor/New American Library: NY 1978)

Karl Marx

Philosophy, above all German philosophy, has a propensity to solitude, to systematic seclusion, to dispassionate self-contemplation which in its estrangement opposes it from the outset to the quick-witted and alive-to-events newspapers who only delight is in information. Philosophy, taken in its systematic development, is unpopular; its secret weaving within itself seems to the layman to be an occupation as overstrained as it is unpractical: it is considered a professor of magic whose incantations sound pompous because they are unintelligible. p 253
-Philosophy, Religion, and the Press, "the Leading Article in the no. 179 of the Kölnische Zeitung," in Rheinische Zeitung, 14 july 1842

Truth, moreover, was not a governmental commodity to be mauled by some bureaucrat, but a universal value that belonged to mankind. Censorship, Marx argued, was logically absurd in that it made mere officeholders, untrained in philosophy, literature or science, the supreme arbiters over their intellectual superiors, the writers and thinkers. He concluded bluntly: "The real, radical cure of the censorship is its abolition. For it is a bad institution." p 261

If correctly understood interest is the principle of all morality, man's private interest must be made to coincide with the interest of humanity. If man is not free in the materialist sense, i.e., free not through the negative power to avoid this or that, but through the positive power to assert his true individuality, crime must not be punished in the individual, but the antisocial source of crime must be destroyed, and each man must be given social scope for the vital manifestation of his being. p 303
-Materialism, from the Holy Family, pp 167-77

The Beer Bill affected the aristocratic clubs as little as the Sunday Trading Bill did the Sunday pursuits of genteel society. The workers receive their wages late on Saturday; hence they are the only ones for whom shops open on Sunday. They are the only ones who are compelled to do their shopping, small as it is, on Sundays. Hence the new bill is directed only against them. In the eighteenth century the French aristocracy said: For us, Voltaire; for the people, the Mass and the Tithe. In the nineteenth century the English aristocracy says: For us, pious phrases; for the people, Christian practice. The classical saints of Christianity castigated their bodies for the salvation of the souls of the masses; the modern, educated saints castigate the body of the masses for the salvation of their own souls. p 315

It will be realized from the above poster that the struggle against clericalism in England assumes the same character as every other serious struggle there -- that of a class struggle of the poor against the rich, the people against the aristocracy, the "lower orders" against their "betters." p 316

... At the same time, however, it declares that the "fanatical" Lord Grosvenor is solely "responsible" for this mischief, being the man who had provoked the "just indignation of the people"! As if Parliament had not adopted Lord Grosvenor's bill in three readings! Or perhaps he too brought his influence to bear "by physical force on the free action of the legislature?" p 319
- The Anti-Church Movement, "Anti-Church Movement -- a Demonstration in Hyde Park," published in the Neue Oder-Zeitung, 28 june, 5 july 1855

Second, some other faculty members -- generally younger ones, who were in graduate schools during the tumult of the 1960s and 1970s -- tend toward an orientation that could variously be described as anti-institutional, anti-dogmatic, deconstructionist, "post-Christian," or Marxist. As graduate students these faculty members were relentless in their questioning of smug sectarianism or unthinking adherence to a creed, and some would say unapologetically that the God who brought them into such studies did not make the cut as the new, lean team was chosen. p 84
- Paul Wilkes, "the Hands that would shape our souls," Atlantic Monthly, december 1990

morals are the quotable day-to-day particular injunctions (primarily negative?) that we live by. ethics are the abstract rationalized principles that attempt to present the morals as a coherent system of rational thought about the life.

e.g. ethic: superior persons should _not_ have -physical- relationships with inferior persons. superior persons _should_ have -intellectual- relationships with inferior persons. ref. Colleen McCullough, the Thorn Birds - other (subsequent?) book

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