Das Geheimnis des Opfers oder Der Mensch ist, was er ißt. The Mystery of Sacrifice or Man is what he eats. Ludwig Feuerbach - PDF

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Das Geheimnis des Opfers oder Der Mensch ist, was er ißt The Mystery of Sacrifice or Man is what he eats by Ludwig Feuerbach Cyril Levitt, Translator Acknowledgement I d like to thank Professor Gerry Chapple

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Das Geheimnis des Opfers oder Der Mensch ist, was er ißt The Mystery of Sacrifice or Man is what he eats by Ludwig Feuerbach Cyril Levitt, Translator Acknowledgement I d like to thank Professor Gerry Chapple (Modern Languages, McMaster University) for helping me re-work about one-quarter of the following translation, and Professor William Slater (Classics, McMaster University) for clarifying some of the classical references. I take responsibility for the final translation and any errors or misprisions contained therein. In addition, I d like to express my gratitude to Professor Graeme Nicholson Philosophy, University of Toronto), Professor John Burbidge (Philosophy, Trent University) and Professor Graeme Hunter (Philosophy, University of Ottawa) who read the translation (anonymously at the time) and who made many helpful suggestions which I have incorporated into the text that follows. This translation is copyrighted by Cyril Levitt, Not to be re-posted or published without express written consent from Cyril Levitt. Introduction to Feuerbach on Sacrifice For more than 100 years every text on the subject of sacrifice has alluded to the historical importance of the work of William Robertson Smith, a Scottish orientalist and Old Testament scholar, whose writings influenced several generations of anthropologists, folklorists, psychologists and students of religion. Emile Durkheim, for example, lauded Smith s original contributions to the understanding of sacrifice when he wrote the following in The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (1995: ): It is well known how much the works of Robertson Smith have revolutionized the traditional theory of sacrifice. Until Smith, sacrifice was seen only as a sort of tribute or homage, either obligatory or freely given, and analogous to those that subjects owe to their princes. Robertson Smith was the first to draw attention to the fact that this traditional explanation did not account for two fundamental features of the rite. First, it is a meal; the substance of sacrifice is food. Second, it is a meal of which the faithful who offer it partake at the same time as the god to whom it is offered... In many societies, the meal is taken in common to create a bond of artificial kinship among the participants. Kin are beings who are made of the same flesh and the same blood. And since food constantly remakes the substance of the body, shared food can create the same effects as shared origin. According to Smith, the object of sacrificial banquets is to have the faithful and the god commune in one and the same flesh, to tie a knot of kinship between them. Its essence was no longer the act of renunciation that the word sacrifice usually expresses, as was so long believed; it was first and foremost an act of alimentary communion. Almost every twentieth century textbook or monograph on the subject of sacrifice, sets out by nodding respectfully towards William Robertson Smith and his seminal ideas on the topic, as originally presented during April, 1887, in the first series of his Burnett Lectures at Aberdeen, and subsequently published in 1889 under the title The Religion of the Semites. Most commonly, reference is made to Smith s core concept of sacrifice as an age-old liminal experience of communion between the human and divine worlds. Around the same time, Sigmund Freud (1960), in the fourth essay of Totem and Taboo, made Smith s view of sacrifice (which establishes kinship among a people and its gods through a process of oral incorporation of the same substance), into the lynchpin of his argument concerning the phylogenetic origins of the Oedipus complex. More recently, Gordon Booth (2002, 255) reiterated the historical importance of Smith s views on sacrifice more generally. And most recently, Robert Allun Jones (2005, ) underscored Smith s importance in his own study of the totemism debate in late nineteenth, early twentieth century anthropology. 1 In 1862, Ludwig Feuerbach wrote an essay entitled: Das Geheimnis des Opfers oder der Mensch ist was er isst [The Mystery of Sacrifice or Man is What he Eats]. The essay was published in the first edition of Feuerbach s collected works in 1866 but it was not to become one of his more famous or celebrated pieces. In fact, Friedrich Jodl, who along with Wilhelm Bolin, edited a later edition of Feuerbach s collected works ( ), felt called upon in his introduction to Volume X (which contained the essay in question) to defend the seeming one-sidedness of Feuerbach s writing. Jodl described the essay as containing numerous crudities describing the almost suicidal zeal of Feuerbach s one-sided argumentation against speculative philosophy. Jodl [Feuerbach: (1862) 1960, VII VIII] then went on to justify this one-sidedness as a kind of necessary strategy that Feuerbach was forced to adopt. Feuerbach (1866: X, 41) himself made no such apologies to German philosophy, as we can see in the opening paragraph of his essay below. The essay is of scholarly interest and hence worthy of translation into English (for the first time here) for a number of reasons. First, it contains most of the core theoretical points made by Smith and taken up by Durkheim, Freud, many of their contemporaries, and students of sacrifice down to the present. Even those Feuerbach commentators such 1. Jones (op. cit., 308) suggests that Henry Sumner Maine adumbrated the theory of sacrifice as establishing kinship in his 1861 inaugural book: Ancient Law. There are two problems with this suggestion. The first concerns the reference only to sacrifice establishing kinship, whereas Smith s theories on sacrifice included numerous other aspects. Second, this element of the theory was known to classical antiquity, which will be clear in the translation that follows. Maine himself pointed out that nothing moves under the sun which is not Greek in origin. as Harold Lemke (2004, ) who have singled out this essay for detailed treatment, have not called attention to Feuerbach s originality and priority in relation to the modern literature on sacrifice. 2 A second reason for offering an English translation of this text at the present time concerns the recent growth of interest in the nature and meaning of sacrifice as seen in the writings of Bakan (1968, 1971), Burkert (1983, 2001), Ekroth (2002), Girard (1977, 1986, 1987, 2001), Jay (1992), Kristeva (1982, 1995), Osman (2004) and many others in a wide variety of fields. Yet a third reason for the timeliness of this first translation of the essay is related to its relevance to the recent confluence of two disciplines neuroscience and psychoanalysis. Harkening back to the work of the early Freud, especially to his so-called 1895 Project for a Scientific Psychology (Freud, 1971a, 1 60) in which he attempted to 3 incorporate the brain and the mind into a unified system and failed. The fact that neurobiologist Antonio D Amasio was invited to give a keynote presentation at the last Congress of the International Psychoanalytic Association (2004) was more than a symbolic gesture. D Amasio, who had written several books on experimental th neuroscience against the backdrop of 17 century European metaphysics, invoked the authority of Spinoza s unity of body and mind ( the mind is the idea of the body ) against the dualism of Descartes and his followers. The unity of body-mind, brain-mind, was a pillar of Feuerbach s thinking and his writings in both anthropology and psychology became increasingly framed around this after his break with the Idealist philosophy in [Feuerbach s essays in philosophical physiology also predate the pioneering work by Bayliss and Starling (1902) in neurogastroenterology and can be seen as a philosophical forerunner of recent work by Gershon (1998) who writes of the brain in the gut and of the bowel as a second brain.] 2. Most of the theoretical points made by Smith in his Burnett lectures in and a little later in his Lectures on the Religion of the Semites, cited by Durkheim, Freud and many others down to the present had already been made by Feuerbach in the essay that follows. It is entirely possible that Smith became acquainted with the Feurbach essay during his sojourn in Germany. Smith s colleague and mentor at Greifswald, Julius Wellhausen, a distinguished Old Testament scholar, has suggested that: Smith was not a scholar, but clever at presenting other men s views. (Darlow, 1925, 41) 3. Although some neuroscientists understand his attempt as having reached an appreciation of a primitive neural network, which is astounding given the fact that the synapse had not yet been discovered, although Freud had already postulated its existence in the draft essay as a contact barrier. 4. Even his early, anonymously published work, Gedanken über Tod und Unsterblichkeit [Thoughts on Death and Immortality] affirmed the unity of mind and body. Feuerbach s essay thus contributes to our understanding of the prehistory of both psychoanalysis and neuro-psychoanalysis. That Freud intensively read Feuerbach, in his second year as a student at the University of Vienna, (Boehlich,1989: 82, ), is evidenced by letters to his childhood friend, Eduard Silberstein. And, even though Freud denied any specific lasting effect of this reading in a letter to Ludwig Binswanger (op. cit., 242) in 1925, Dimitrov and Gerdjikov (1974), Hemecker (1991), Grubrich-Simitis (1986) and others suggest important ways in which Freud had been influenced by this early, intensive encounter with Feuerbach (Levitt, 2006). In the translation that follows we can see how Feuerbach s emphasis on and approach to eating and drinking are reflected in Freud s understanding of orality as a psycho-sexual stage of development and in the themes closely related to it including: identification, incorporation, aggression, sadism, reaction-formation, etc. (Even if Freud had never read this particular essay by Feuerbach, and it is likely that he did not, the similarity between some of Feuerbach s ideas and those of Freud are truly remarkable). When a patient in analysis remarks: I loved her so much I could have eaten her up, or: When she left me I ate my heart out, Feuerbach would understand the real corporeal associative link in the metaphorical speech. Finally, Feuerbach s emphasis on the mind-body or mind-brain in the latter part of the essay is relevant to the work of D Amasio and other neuroscientists who look back to the ideas of the great metaphysicians as a mechanism for expressing their own views that have been formed on the basis of empirical research. Feuerbach, although influenced by th Spinoza, went beyond the 17 century metaphysician to link up with the cutting edge of th the physiology of the mid-19 century, especially with the work of the chemical physiologists Büchner, Vogt and Moleschott, who became supportive in varying degrees of Feuerbach s philosophy of science, nature and human nature. If contemporary neuroscientists like D Amasio find important nuggets in the mighty thinkers of the past, a reconsideration of the writings of Feuerbach in relation to the mind-brain problem is not to be dismissed. References Bakan, D., (1968). Sacrifice and the Book of Job. Chicago: University of Chicago Press., (1971). Slaughter of the Innocents. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass. Bayliss, W.M., and E.H. Starling. (1902). The mechanism of pancreatic secretion. J Physiol, London, 28: Booth, G., (2002). The Fruits of Sacrifice: Sigmund Freud and William Robertson Smith. Beohlich, W., (1989). Sigmund Freud: Jugenbriefe an Eduard Silberstein. Frankfurt-am- Main: S. Firscher Verlag. Burkert, W., (1983). Homo Necans. Berkeley: University of California Press., (2001). Kleine Schriften I. Homerica. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. Damasio, A., (2003). Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain. Orlando, Austin, New York, San Diego, Toronto, London: Harcourt Inc. Darlow, T.H., (1925). William Robertson Nicoll: Life and Letters. London: Hodder and Staughton Ltd. Dimitrov, C. and I. Gerdjikov, (1974). Ludwig Feuerbach und Sigmund Freud. Zeitschrift für Psychosomatische Medizin und Psychoanalyse. 1: Durkheim, E., (1995). The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. New York, London, Toronto, Sydney Tokyo, Singapore: The Free Press. Eckroth, G., (2002). The Sacrificial Rituals of Greek Hero-Cults in the Archaic to the early Hellenistic periods. Liège: Centre International d'etude de la Religion Grecque Antique. Feuerbach, L., [1830] (1960). Gedanken über Tod und Unsterblichkeit. Ludwig Feuerbach Sämtliche Werke, edited by Wilhelm Bolin and Friedrich Jodl, Bd.I,1 90. Stuttgart-Bad Canstatt: Frommann Verlag., [1862] (1960). Das Geheimnis des Opfers oder der Mensch ist was er ißt. Ludwig Feuerbach Sämtliche Werke, edited by Wilhelm Bolin and Friedrich Jodl, Bd.X, Stuttgart-Bad Canstatt: Frommann Verlag., (1911). Ludwig Feuerbach Sämtliche Werke, edited by Wilhelm Bolin and Friedrich Jodl, 12 Volumes. Stuttgart-Bad Canstatt: Frommann Verlag., [1862] (1990). Das Geheimnis des Opfers oder der Mensch ist was er ißt. Ludwig Feuerbach Gesammelte Werke, edited by Werner Schuffenhauer, Bd. 11, Berlin: Akademie Verlag. Freud, S., [1895] (1971a). The Project for a Scientific Psychology.. The Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Standard Edition. Vol. I: London and Toronto: The Hogarth Press., [1913] (1971b). Totem and Taboo. The Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Standard Edition. Vol. 13: London and Toronto: The Hogarth Press. Gershon, M.D., (1998). The Second Brain. New York: Harper Collins. Girard, R., (1977). Violence and the Sacred. Baltimore. John s Hopkins University Press., (1986). The Scapegoat. Baltimore: John s Hopkins University Press., (1987). Job: The Victim of his People. Stanford. Stanford University Press., (2001). I See Satan Fall like Lightning. Maryknoll, N.Y.:Orbis. Grubrich-Simitis, I., (1986). Reflections on Sigmund Freud s Relationship to the German Language and to some German-speaking Authors of the Enlightenment. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 67: Hegel. G.W.F., (1971). Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie III. Frankfurtam-Main: Suhrkamp. Hemecker, W., (1991). Vor Freud: Philosophiegeschichtliche Voraussetzungen der Psychoanalyse. München, Hamden, Wien: Philosophia. Jay, N. (1992)., Throughout Your Generations Forever. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press. Jones, R. A., (2005). The Secret of the Totem. New York: Columbia University Press. Kristeva, J., (1982). Powers of Horror: An Essay On Abjection. New York: Columbia University Press., (1995). New Maladies of the Soul. New York: Columbia University Press. Lemke, H., (2004). Feuerbachs Stammtischthese oder zum Ursprung des Satzes: Der Mensch ist, was er isst. Aufklärung und Kritik 1: Levitt, C., (2006) Ludwig Feuerbach and Sigmund Freud. Unpublished paper delivered as an address at the Toronto Institute of Psychoanalysis, March, Osman, M., (2004). The Role of an Early-Life Variant of the Oedipus Complex in Motivating Religious Endeavours. JAPA 52, 4: The Mystery of Sacrifice or Man is What He Eats 5 [This translation is based on Volume 11 of the edition of Feuerbach s Gesasmmelte Werke edited by Werner Schuffenhauer, Akademie Verlag Berlin, 1990, pp C.L.] The proposition: man is what he eats, which I expressed in a review of 6 Moleschott s Lehre der Nahrungsmittel für das Volk, [sic] 1850, is the only sentence from my writings which are well-known as being long-forgotten and which certain people have ringing in their ears even today, but only as a dissonant note, as an insult to the honour of German philosophy and culture. But precisely this awful sound put me in such good spirits that I could not resist making this famous play on words the subject of an essay of its own. However, the main subject of my writings is the solution to the mystery of religion, because I consider all other mysteries of the human spirit only in relation to religion, only on the basis of it or on account of it. But at the same time, nevertheless, I am also known as a completely dreadful materialist, engrossed to such a degree in the most primitive form of matter that I no longer even know that man not only 7 eats but drinks as well, and drink cannot be rhymed with is. Thus have I made an object of gastrology (theory of the stomach, of the palate) straightaway into an object of theology, and admittedly, an object of theology, on the other hand, into an object of gastrology. But I flatter myself on precisely this account with the hope of having supplied a brief yet decisive contribution to the still controversial question: what is the true meaning of the sacrifice of food and drink? Man is what he eats. What a scurrilous expression of modern sensualist pseudowisdom! Nevertheless this scurrilous thought has an already venerable classical provenance, having already been given expression by the father of Greek poetry when he classified people by the food that distinguishes them from other peoples. For Homer calls the hippomolgoi, a nomadic Scythian tribe in the Iliad, glaktophagoi, i.e., milk 5. In the original this title stands on a special title page before the text 6. The correct title is: Lehre der Nahrungsmittel. Für das Volk. In fact, as Schuffenhauer points out, Feuerbach had first used a similar expression in a later edition of his Thoughts on Immortality and Death entitled: Die Frage der Unsterblichkeit vom Standpunkt der Anthropologie (1847). 7. Feuerbach refers to the fact that in German the third person singular of essen to eat is the word isst or ißt which rhymes with the third person singular of sein to be, the word ist. Of course the word trinkt in German, the third person singular of the verb to drink, does not rhyme with them. eaters, [The text of Homer actually has hippemolgoi. Iliad My thanks to William Slater for pointing this out C.L.], although the name hippomolgos itself already means a milker of horses, a drinker of horse milk. Thus, in the Odyssey, he calls a people to whom Odysseus comes in his wanderings, lotus-eaters. In the same way he speaks of people who know nothing of the sea and who do not enjoy any food mixed with salt, and characterizes the inhuman or super-human rawness of the cyclops, Polyphemos, by portraying him, too, as a cannibal and explicitly calling him a cannibal, androphagos. As with Homer, the Greek geographers and historians too designated peoples only according to their favourite or conspicuous foods and speak accordingly of ichthyophagoi, eaters of fish, chelonophagoi, eaters of turtles, akridophagoi, eaters of grasshoppers, struthophagoi, eaters of ostriches, rhizophagoi, eaters of roots, hylo- and spermatophagoi, eaters of wood and seeds, i.e., people who live from the fruit of tender branches of wild trees; agriophagoi, eaters of game, i.e., those (according to Pliny) who nourish themselves from the meat of panthers and lions; pamphagoi, omnivores; ophiophagoi, eaters of snakes, such as the Panchaeans according to Pomponius Mela; artophagoi, eaters of bread, such as the Egyptians, according to Athenaeus on account of their moderation; anthropophagoi, cannibals. Homer, however, names not only people according to their foods: he makes nourishment itself into a characteristic adjective and signifier of humans in general. He refers to people as grain or bread eaters, either in a composite word, sitophagoi, or separately: the people of the earth who eat bread, the fruit of the earth or mortals eating the grain of Demeter. Indeed, Homer sets the difference between the gods and men in the very difference among their foods. The goddess Calypso placed before Odysseus: all sorts of nourishment, of which he would eat and drink, which mortal men enjoy : but for her, her maidservants provided ambrosia and nectar. The Iliad expressly states: the gods do not eat bread, nor do they drink sparkling wine, and for that reason they have no blood and are called im
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