Abstract and Keywords
Materialist approaches were present in Germany throughout the nineteenth century. They stood in opposition both to academic philosophy and to the “official” worldview, which were favored by the churches and governments. Ludwig Feuerbach, the most significant representative of materialist thought in this period, had already formed his views and developed a fundamental critique of religion in critical opposition to the hegemonic philosophy of G.W.F. Hegel. After the failed democratic revolution of 1848 a group of authors radicalized Feuerbach’s approach by striving to (a) replace all independent philosophy with natural sciences, and (b) thereby modernize society. When this reductionist program lost influence, the “monism” that Ernst Haeckel and other natural scientists championed won a higher profile among the public. It continued several of the several theoretical and practical motives and motifs of materialism, but at the same time diluted them by adopting a reconciliatory attitude towards idealism.
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