Bloch, Ernst

(1885-1977)
   social philosopher; evolved a Marxism sus-tained more by Kant than by Marx. Born in Ludwigshafen, he studied during 1911-1916 at Heidelberg, forming a friendship with fellow student Georg Lukacs*; Lukacs labeled him a "born philosopher" of the Hegelian type. Swayed by Expressionism* and the intellectual milieu of postwar Munich, his ideas embody key contradictions. He began his career in 1918 at Leipzig with publication of Geist der Utopie (Spirit of utopia), followed in 1922 with a study of Thomas Münzer that blended Marxism and mysticism. His Marxist revision-ism was further developed in Spuren (Footprints, 1930) and Erbschaft dieser Zeit (Heritage of our times, 1933).
   A formidable intellect, Bloch lacked the political instinct to realize that his utopian philosophy was not solidly Marxist. He was once deemed the heir to the dialectical paradigm developed by Hegel and Marx, but his roots are now questioned. Kolakowski claimed that he not only attempted to graft a "complete metaphysic" onto Marxism but unmasked "its neo-Platonic roots." Identified with the esoteric thought of the Frankfurt School,* he was, with Lukacs and Karl Korsch,* among those who believed Leninism too primitive for western and central Europe. Walter Laqueur maintained that his work was "a curious mixture of expressionist style and Old Testament pathos interspersed with Marx-ist terminology." He ultimately viewed politics as little more than a means to deeper spirituality and higher culture. Fleeing to the United States in 1933, he returned to East Germany in 1948. His major work, the three-volume Das prin-zip Hoffnung (The Principle of Hope, 1954-1959) stirred such controversy that he was forbidden to publish it. In 1961 he left the German Democratic Republic and lived in Tübingen until his death.
   REFERENCES:EP, vol. 1; Garland and Garland, Oxford Companion to German Litera-ture; Kolakowski, Main Currents of Marxism; Laqueur, Weimar.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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