(A17) Constellations of Religious and State Criticism in Left Hegelianism

Based on Hegel, a complex discussion about the relationship of religion, theology and philosophy and about the relationship of individual self-determination and the legitimation of political leadership emerged in Left Hegelianism. While the philosophical criticism of religion and theology was given priority in the beginning, triggered by the works of David F. Strauß and Bruno Bauer, among others, the legitimation of the Prussian State and later also of the rule of law in general was becoming the centre of focus in the early 1840s. The authors significantly involved in this debate – Michail Bakunin, Bruno Bauer, Moses Heß, Arnold Ruge, Karl Marx and Max Stirner should be named here in particular – critically followed up diverse parts of the Hegelian system.

In the course of the discussion a transfer of argumentation patterns critical of religion to the criticism of the rule of law took place, introduced by Ludwig Feuerbach and others. Under the impression of increasingly anti-liberal tendencies of the Prussian State and of social processes of atomisation and secularisation, the philosophers involved in this debate developed forms of criticism of religion and of the state which had a complex interdependent relationship and which gave rise to a wide range of answers to questions regarding the legitimacy of the rule of law, the relationship of state and religion as well as of the relationship of religion, theology and philosophy. It is the aim of this project to illuminate the constellations of this debate and to determine the conclusions that can be drawn for the contemporary relationship of religion and politics.