Religious Alienation - Bruno Bauer

Bruno Bauer

Hegel had created a system; and all his followers believed that it was the final one. However, when it came to applying the system to particular problems, they conceived his system to be ambivalent. The fact that alienation seemed to them to be a challenge, something to be overcome, led them to put the emphasis on the concepts of dialectic and negativity in Hegel's system; and thus they challenged, first in religion and then in politics, his view that the problem of alienation had, at least in principle, been solved. The foremost among these radical disciples of Hegel, Bruno Bauer, applied the concept of alienation to the religious field. Bauer, who lectured in theology and made his name as a Gospel critic, considered that religious beliefs, and in particular Christianity, caused a division in man's consciousness by becoming opposed to this consciousness as a separate power. Thus religion was an attitude towards the essence of self-consciousness that had become estranged from itself. In this context, Bauer promoted the use of the expression “self-alienation” that soon became current among the Young Hegelians.

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