Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 October 2021
Chapter 5 is dedicated to a study of Hegel’s controversial student Bruno Bauer. An account is given of Bauer’s life and his relations with Hegel, Marx, Engels, and others. The chapter gives a close reading of Bauer’s Christianity Exposed. This work was immediately banned by the Prussian government, which confiscated the book from the bookstores and tried to destroy the entire print run. Bauer explains that the work is about the atheistic Enlightenment of the eighteenth century, which, he claims, has recently seen a revival. Bauer explains his idea of “modern criticism,” by which he means that the proper philosophical view should not just be critical of specific things but rather should issue a universal criticism, sparing nothing, regardless of how sacred it might be. Bauer argues that alienation is a necessary feature of religion. He holds Christianity responsible for the undermining of freedom, equality, and love. Bauer notes that religious sects must also persecute any form of critical or independent thinking. Religion thus demands that individuals sacrifice their faculty of reason, which amounts to their very humanity.