Real humanism has no more dangerous enemy in Germany than spiritualism or speculative idealism, which substitutes "self-consciousness" or the ''spirit" for the real individual man and with the evangelist teaches: "It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing." Needless to say, this incorporeal spirit is spiritual only in its imagination. What we are combating in Bauer's criticism is precisely speculation reproducing itself as a caricature. We see in it the most complete expression of the Christian-Germanic principle, which makes its last effort by transforming "criticism" itself into a transcendent power.
Our exposition deals first and foremost with Bruno Bauer's Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung -- the first eight numbers are here before us -- because in it Bauer's criticism, and with it the nonsense of German speculation in general, has reached its peak. The more completely Critical Criticism (the criticism of the Literatur-Zeitung) distorts reality into an obvious comedy through philosophy, the more instructive it is. -- For examples see Faucher and Szeliga. -- The Literatur-Zeitung offers material by which even the broad public can be enlightened on the illusions of speculative philosophy. That is the aim of our book.
Our exposition is naturally determined by its subject. Critical Criticism is in all respects below the level already attained by German theoretical development. The nature of our subject therefore justifies our refraining here from further discussion of that development itself.
Critical Criticism makes it necessary rather to assert, in contrast to it, the already achieved results as such.
We therefore give this polemic as a preliminary to the independent works in which we -- each of us for himself, of course -- shall present our positive view and thereby our positive attitude to the more recent philosophical anti social doctrines.
Paris, September 1844