The Privatization of Hope

Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia, SIC 8

Book Pages: 336 Illustrations: Published: December 2013

Politics > Political Theory, Sociology > Social Theory, Theory and Philosophy

The concept of hope is central to the work of the German philosopher Ernst Bloch (1885–1977), especially in his magnum opus, The Principle of Hope (1959). The "speculative materialism" that he first developed in the 1930s asserts a commitment to humanity's potential that continued through his later work. In The Privatization of Hope, leading thinkers in utopian studies explore the insights that Bloch's ideas provide in understanding the present. Mired in the excesses and disaffections of contemporary capitalist society, hope in the Blochian sense has become atomized, desocialized, and privatized. From myriad perspectives, the contributors clearly delineate the renewed value of Bloch's theories in this age of hopelessness. Bringing Bloch's "ontology of Not Yet Being" into conversation with twenty-first-century concerns, this collection is intended to help revive and revitalize philosophy's commitment to the generative force of hope.

Contributors. Roland Boer, Frances Daly, Henk de Berg, Vincent Geoghegan, Wayne Hudson, Ruth Levitas, David Miller, Catherine Moir, Caitríona Ní Dhúill, Welf Schröter, Johan Siebers, Peter Thompson, Francesca Vidal, Rainer Ernst Zimmermann, Slavoj Žižek


"This work will interest those with a curiosity about Bloch's potential in the modern age. . . . Recommended. Graduate students, researchers, faculty." — C. L. Dolmetsch, Choice

“…like Bloch, contributions in this volume instil in the reader a sense that partisans are not obliged to consider contemporary states of affairs as perfected facts, as if facts amounted to the world’s completion. Instead we are guided by a transgressive thought to take up with renewed vigour Bloch’s insistence on the world’s being just as little finished as we are. . . . [T]his volume foretells of a much needed coming future engagement with Bloch.” — Nathaniel J P Barron, Marx & Philosophy Review of Books

"[T]he merit of this volume is that it approaches Bloch's thinking from very different perspectives, and often in an ingenious way." — Ivan Boldyrev, Crisis and Critique

“[T]his collection is persuasive that a return to Bloch’s writing, in spite of – or as Miller argues, perhaps precisely because of – its difficulty, is a worthwhile endeavour for anyone interested in reclaiming the utopian residues that lie beneath the ideological surface of cultural formations, perhaps in order to then understand how they might be put to work in ensuring that some human dreams for a better collective future do not remain mere fantasies.” — Marcus Morgan, British Journal of Sociology

"Late capitalism has been celebrated by its apologists as that stage of society in which nothing more, nothing new, will ever happen (except for wars, catastrophes, bankruptcy, and Armageddon): the end of history as the death of the future. In this affluent desolation, at the tail-end of all thought, we confront the immense enigmatic figure of Ernst Bloch and that tangle of the Not-Yet-Conceived—the heritage of unfinished business, loose ends, and tired aporias in which new problems are somewhere hidden, new futures slumber, and a freshening and a renewal of history is promised. The present collection makes a start on renewing Bloch himself as a living multiplicity of themes and questions, and may even mark a beginning of that new beginning with which he tantalized us." — Fredric Jameson, Duke University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Peter Thompson is Reader in German at the University of Sheffield. He is the author of The Crisis of the German Left.

Slavoj Žižek is Senior Researcher at the Institute for Social Studies in Ljubljana, Slovenia. He is the author of many books, including Less Than Nothing: Hegel and the Shadow of Dialectical Materialism.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments xi

Note of Editions and Translations xiii

Preface / Slavoj Zizek xv

Introduction: The Privatization of Hope and the Crisis of Negation / Peter Thompson 1

1. Bloch and a Philosophy of the Proterior / Wayne Hudson 21

2. An Anti-humanist Utopia? / Vincent Goeghegan 37

3. Ernst Bloch's Dialectical Anthropology / Johan Siebers 61

4. Religion, Utopia, and the Metaphysics of Contingency / Peter Thompson 82

5. The Privatization of Eschatology and Myth: Ernst Block vs. Rudolph Bultmann / Roland Boer 106

6. The Education of Hope: On the Dialectical Potential of Speculative Materialism / Catherine Moir 121

7. Engendering the Future: Bloch's Utopian Philosophy in Dialogue with Gender Theory / Caitríona Ní Dhúill 144

8. The Zero-Point: Encountering the Dark Emptiness of Nothingness / Frances Daly 164

9. A Marxist Poetics: Allegory and Reading in The Principle of Hope / David Miller 203

10. Singing Summons the Existence of the Fountain: Bloch, Music, and Utopia / Ruth Levitas 219

11. Transforming Utopian into Metopian Systems: Bloch's Principle of Hope Revisited / Rainer E. Zimmerman 246

12. Unlearning How to Hope: Eleven Theses in Defense of Liberal Democracy and Consumer Culture / Henk de Berg 269

13. Can We Hope to Walk Tall in a Computerized World of Work? / Francesca Vidal and Welf Schröter 288

Contributors 301

Index 305
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-5589-2 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-5575-5
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