In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

GROSS 67 DAVID GROSS ERNST BLOCH (1885-1977) In August of 1977, Ernst Bloch, one of the major figures of European Marxism, died in Germany at the age of92. He was the last of a remarkable generation of European inteUectuals, born in the 1870s and 1880s, who helped recast Marxist thoughts in the 20th century, turning it away from the economism andpositivism of the Second International and toward a reintegration with HegeUan and "ideaUstic" currents of thought. To some this represented a loss and a reversion to pre-Marxist or nonrevolutionary modes of analyses. To others it meant an enrichment of Marxism and a return to the original spirit and intention of Marx himself. Because Bloch has been viewed from both perspectives, he has been castigated on the one hand as a renegade Marxist (particularly by East German party inteUectuals), and praised on the other as a genuinely innovative and creative thinker. In the latter camp can be found numerous groups, from humanistic theologians to a good part of the German New Left of the 1960s, who picked up and developed some of Bloch's core ideas. His most important book, Das Prinzip Hoffnung (The Principle ofHope), is one of the richest, most imaginative works produced by a Marxist in this century. It deserves a place alongside ofGeorgLukács' History and Class Consciousness, Antonio Gramsci's Prison Notebooks, and Jean-Paul Sartre's Critique ofDialecticalReason as a major text of Marxism, though it is the only one of these four works that has not yet been translated in its entirety. Born in Ludwigshafen, Germany in 1885, Bloch grew up studying music, philosophy, and Uterature, but eventuaUy settled on philosophy as his major interest. Before World War I he studied with Georg Simmel in BerUn and with Max Weber in Heidelberg. Along with Lukács, who was the same age, Bloch was the youngest and by some accounts the most brilliant member of the famous Weber Circle which included such thinkers as Karl Jaspers, Friedrich Gundolf, Emil Lask, Ernst Troeltsch and Wilhelm Windelband. When the war broke out Bloch, already a 68 THE MINNESOTA REVIEW pacifist, fled to Switzerland where he wrote his first significant work Geist der Utopie (The Spiritof Utopia). In the 1920s he returned to Germany and, as an independent writer andjournaUst, moved from a vaguely sociaUst to a Marxist perspective, though he neverjoined the Communist Party. In the early 1930s Bloch was forced to leave his homeland once again, both because ofbis poUtical orientation and his Jewishbackground. EventuaUy he found his way to the United States where he spent a goodpart of his time between 1937 and 1945 writing his three volume magnum opus, ThePrinciple ofHope. After the war Bloch returned to East Germany to become professor of Philosophy at the University of Leipzig, but by the mid-1950s he feU into disfavor with party officials whowere unsympathetic to what he caUed his "open Marxism." After a time he was forbidden to pubUsh or teach. In 1961, when the Berlin WaU went up, Bloch happened to be on a brief speaking tour in West Germany. Taking advantage of his situation he decided to remain in the Federal RepubUc for good. He was given an academic appointment at Tübingen University where he continued to Uve until his death two years ago. Bloch's contribution to Marxism was many-sided. In the 1920s, along with others Uke Lukács and Karl Korsch, he helped uncover and strengthen the HegeUan strains within Marxism. Particularly important in this respect was his emphasis on the dialectical method as the best way not only ofgrasping existing reaUty but of finding the means to get beyond it. He was one of the first on the Left to appreciate the work of Freud and to incorporate Freudian insights into his own analysis—and this weU before Wilhelm Reich and the Frankfurt School became better known for the same thing. In contrast to the anti-utopian tendencies of the Second International (based largely on Engel's essay "SociaUsm: Utopian and Scientific"), Bloch consciously revived the long, and in his opinion too neglected, Utopian tradition and tried to re-invigorate contemporary Marxism with it. There has...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 67-71
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.