Reintroducing Ernst Bloch: In Pursuit of Utopia
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This chapter recounts the phases of Ernst Bloch’s life and work that led him to become one of the foremost pugnacious and controversial philosophers of the twentieth century. Bloch is not very well known in the English-speaking world, and this introductory chapter is divided into two parts to recapitulate the major phases of his life and work. Born in 1875, Bloch was raised in the provincial city of Ludwigshafen, and after studying philosophy in Heidelberg, he became a pacifist critic of World War I and published his first book, The Spirit of Utopia, in 1918 that was to determine the direction that all his work was to take. He went on to criticize the Nazis in Heritage of Our Times (1935) and wrote his famous three-volume opus, The Principle of Hope, while living in exile in the United States from 1938 to 1949. All his work and teaching were focused on finding traces of hope that would enable people to discover their innate talents and ways to change the world for the better.