Ernst Bloch (1954)
|Born||July 8, 1885
Ludwigshafen, German Empire
|Died||August 4, 1977
Tübingen, West Germany
|Main interests||Humanism, history, nature, subjectivity, ideology, utopia, religion, theology|
Bloch was influenced by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Karl Marx, as well as by apocalyptic and religious thinkers such as Thomas Müntzer, Paracelsus, and Jacob Boehme. He established friendships with Georg Lukács, Bertolt Brecht, Kurt Weill, Walter Benjamin, and Theodor W. Adorno. Bloch's work focuses on the thesis that in a humanistic world where oppression and exploitation have been eliminated there will always be a truly revolutionary force. Bloch has been called the greatest of modern utopian thinkers.
Bloch was born in Ludwigshafen, the son of a Jewish railway-employee. After studying philosophy, he married Else von Stritzky, daughter of a Baltic brewer in 1913, who died in 1921. His second marriage with Linda Oppenheimer lasted only a few years. His third wife was Karola Piotrowska, a Polish architect, whom he married in 1934 in Vienna. When the Nazis came to power, they had to flee, first into Switzerland, then to Austria, France, Czechoslovakia, and finally the USA. Bloch returned to the GDR in 1949 and obtained a chair in philosophy at Leipzig. When the Berlin Wall was built in 1961, he did not return to the GDR, but went to Tübingen in West Germany, where he received an honorary chair in Philosophy. He died in Tübingen.
Bloch, influenced by Naturphilosophie, believed that reality is an ongoing "mediation" between object and subject. The basic stuff of existence (Urgrund) has a teleological drive towards the end of the life process (Endziel). Causally, this is driven by a fundamental cosmic force, "hunger", which Bloch sees as translatable into "hope" in our own species. Politically, the end-point translates into a utopia where the exploitation of humans by fellow humans has ended.
Bloch's The Principle of Hope was written during his emigration in the USA, where he lived briefly in New Hampshire before settling in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He wrote the lengthy three volume work in the reading room of Harvard's Widener Library. Bloch originally planned to publish it there under the title Dreams of a Better Life. The Principle of Hope tries to provide an encyclopedic account of mankind's and nature's orientation towards a socially and technologically improved future.
Bloch's work became very influential in the course of the student protest movements in 1968 and in liberation theology. It is cited as a key influence by Jürgen Moltmann in his Theology of Hope (1967, Harper and Row, New York), by Dorothee Sölle, and by Ernesto Balducci. Psychoanalyst Joel Kovel has praised Bloch as, "the greatest of modern utopian thinkers".
- Geist der Utopie (1918) (The Spirit of Utopia, Stanford, 2000)
- Thomas Müntzer als Theologe der Revolution (1921) (Thomas Müntzer as Theologian of Revolution)
- Spuren (1930) (Traces, Stanford University Press, 2006)
- Erbschaft dieser Zeit (1935) (Bequest of This Time)
- Freiheit und Ordnung (1947) (Freedom and Order)
- Subjekt-Objekt (1949)
- Christian Thomasius (1949)
- Avicenna und die aristotelische Linke (1949) (Avicenna and the aristotelian Left)
- Das Prinzip Hoffnung (3 vols.: 1938–1947) (The Principle of Hope, MIT Press, 1986)
- Naturrecht und menschliche Würde (1961) (Natural Law and Human Dignity, MIT Press 1986)
- Tübinger Einleitung in die Philosophie (1963) (The Tübingen Introduction in Philosophy)
- Religion im Erbe (1959–66) (trans.: Man on His Own, Herder and Herder, 1970)
- Atheismus im Christentum (1968) (trans.: Atheism in Christianity, 1972)
- Politische Messungen, Pestzeit, Vormärz (1970) (Political Measurements, the Plague, Pre-March)
- Das Materialismusproblem, seine Geschichte und Substanz (1972) (The Problem of Materialism, Its History and Substance)
- Experimentum Mundi. Frage, Kategorien des Herausbringens, Praxis (1975) (Experimentum Mundi. Question, Categories of Realization, Praxis)
- “Causality and Finality as Active, Objectifying Categories:Categories of Transmission”. TELOS 21 (Fall 1974). New York: Telos Press
- Kołakowski, Leszek (1985). Main Currents of Marxism Volume 3: The Breakdown. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 421–449. ISBN 0-19-285109-8.
- Kovel, Joel (1991). History and Spirit: An Inquiry into the Philosophy of Liberation. Boston: Beacon Press. p. 261. ISBN 0-8070-2916-5.
- Ruse, Michael (2005). Honderich, Ted, ed. The Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 100. ISBN 0-19-926479-1.
- Adorno, Theodor W. (1991). "Ernst Bloch's Spuren," Notes to Literature, Volume One, New York, Columbia University Press
- Geoghegan, Vincent (1996). Ernst Bloch, London, Routledge
- Hudson, Wayne (1982). The Marxist philosophy of Ernst Bloch, New York, St. Martin's Press
- Schmidt, Burghard. (1985) Ernst Bloch, Stuttgart, Metzler
- Münster, Arno (1989). Ernst Bloch: messianisme et utopie, PUF, Paris
- Jones, John Miller (1995). Assembling (Post)modernism: The Utopian Philosophy of Ernst Bloch, New York, P Lang. (Studies in European thought, v. 11)
- Korstvedt, Benjamin M. (2010). Listening for utopia in Ernst Bloch’s musical philosophy, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press
- West, Thomas H. (1991). Ultimate hope without God : the atheistic eschatology of Ernst Bloch, New York, P. Lang (American university studies series 7 theology religion; vol 97)
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