Karl Heinzen

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In existographies, Karl Heinzen (146-75 BE) (1809-1880 ACM) (IQ:#|#) (EPD:M4) (FA:122) (CR:6) (LH:4) (TL:10) was a German-born American philosopher, poet, political theorist, atheism activist, women’s rights promoter, and abolition activist, noted for []

Overview

In 1840s, Heinzen came under the influence of Ludwig Feuerbach and the so-called “scientific materialists”, namely: Jacob Moleschott, Ludwig Buchner, and Karl Vogt, who sought to replace religion with an atheistic philosophy based on scientific materialism.[1]

Six Letters

In 1846, Heinzen, in his Six Letters to a Pious Man, presented a series of letters, in the form of a pamphlet, which contain the confession of the belief of an ‘atheist’ in concise form; the following is the main section of his pamphlet:[2]

“If no ‘god’ exists or can exist beyond mankind or the world, then he can have revealed nothing to them from beyond; nothing is revealed to the mind of man except that, which he develops out of himself or the world. As further the spirit cannot have come in the world from beyond, but must have always been in it, thus it cannot return to a ‘god’ from whom it did not proceed; therefore, it quietly remains in the world. I too believe in ‘immortality’, in as much as I believe in the immortality of the world. But in a personal continuance of man I of course do not believe, neither does it interest me, having once recognized the impossibility of it. Even to you it must be indifferent, if you do not straight-way believe in the resurrection of the flesh with skin and bones. For from what other motive would you wish your existence continued, if not because you hope to continue, after death, your individual life, and indeed, if possible, with other human beings, whose individuality is endeared to you? But what forms your individuality? Nothing but the union of your flesh, your blood, your nerves, etc. Dissolve this union, destroy but one single part of this organic, corporal combination, and the product of the same, ‘Reverend N.’ , is likewise vanished or changed; and even though you assume a separate continuance of the spirit, after this dissolution, you can only conceive this ‘spirit’ as perfectly indifferent, that is, provided you do not reconnect it with the remaining parts of your personality. I do not imagine the spirit separate, neither in man nor in the whole world, but consider it as not without existence, and existence not without life, and life not without ‘matter’ and matter again not without life.
But this is ‘materialism’! you will exclaim. Yes, it is materialism! ‘Materialism’ in a like manner to ‘atheism’ has become an epithet of abuse, which is applied by narrowmindedness and ill-will to that which they do not understand, or which is inconvenient to them. I maintain that in the world there can be nothing immaterial. And what is lost by it? Is that which we call ‘soul’, thought, feeling, etc., less soul, thought, feeling, because I do not separate them from matter? Would you have the perfume of the flower without the flower? Abusing ‘materialism’ is the most stupid thing in the world. As long as it is found necessary to bring the sensitive and material, that is, the existing to be acknowledged and respected, so long there can be no talk of a general happiness and general rationality. As long as people need the ghosts of things instead of their substance, so long will they bother themselves with chimeras.
The mind is nothing but the result of an organic combination of physical powers. The universe is, as it were, a chemical, magnetical, electrical, etc., laboratory, in which, the material powers (also called vital powers) consummate their unceasing changes and transformations. Where one formation ceases [final state], another begins [initial state]. Even the corpse of man lives; but this is no longer human life, it is only the life of ‘anorganic’ nature [see: inorganic life], to which the human form, after its dissolution, returns, and out of which ‘organic’ nature reproduces itself. There is nothing dead in the world, and dying implies only a retransformation to the material of common life. But if the ‘special spirit’, which is the subject of contest, the spirit of a single human being, is to reappear, there must from that material, by way of generation and sustenance, an organic human form be redeveloped; and how you are to imagine the reproduction of all the millions of individual human forms, which have returned to that material, remains with yourself. Where is the perfume of the flower, when the flower is withered? Where is the spirit of man, when man is deceased? With the same right, wherewith you claim a resurrection of man, I might claim a resurrection of the flowers. And that animals have as much claim to your ‘immortality’ as yourself, is a matter of course.”

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Quotes

Quotes | By

The following are quotes by Heinzen:

“The mind is nothing but the result of an organic combination of physical powers.”
— Karl Heinzen (1846), Six Letters to a Pious Man (pg. 14)
“There is no thingdead’ in the world, and dying implies only a retransformation to the material of common life.”
— Karl Heinzen (1846), Six Letters to a Pious Man (pg. 14)
“The universe is, as it were, a chemical, magnetical, electrical, etc., laboratory, in which, the material powers (also called vital powers) consummate their unceasing changes and transformations. Where one formation ceases [final state], another begins [initial state].”
— Karl Heinzen (1846), Six Letters to a Pious Man (pg. 14)
“I maintain that in the world there can be nothing immaterial. And what is lost by it? Is that which we call ‘soul’, thought, feeling, etc., less soul, thought, feeling, because I do not separate them from matter? Would you have the perfume of the flower without the flower?”
— Karl Heinzen (1846), Six Letters to a Pious Man (pg. 14)

End matter

References

  1. Tuchman, Arleen M. (2006). Science Has No Sex: the Life of Marie Zakrezewska, M.D. (pg. 109). University of North Carolina Press.
  2. Heinzen, Karl. (1846). Six Letters to a Pious Man: Introduced by an Address to Bishop Hughes (translator: American Lady) (quote, pg. 14). Publisher, 1856.

Further reading

  • Thims, Libb. (2020). “If NO ‘god’ exists or can exist beyond mankind or the world, then …” (Ѻ), Reddit Atheism, Jan.

External links

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