Notes: Daly, Frances, “The Zero-Point: Encountering the Dark Emptiness of Nothingness” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Daly, Frances. (2013). The zero-point: Encountering the dark emptiness of nothingness. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 164-202.

Summary:

Daly analyzes many of the recurring images in Bloch’s work to find “zero-points” as both darkness and emptiness within lived experiences but also as the condition for the possibility of hope.

Keywords: philosophy, theory, utopia

Quotations:

“Humanity is conceived as a possibility, as a challenge to become, not as a given, and this means that no actual assumption concerning the content of being can be made” (p. 172).

“Bloch writes persuasively of a need to learn hope as much as we have learned fear” (p. 198).

Notes: Ní Dhúill, Catríona, “Engendering the Future: Bloch’s Utopian Philosophy in Dialogue with Gender Theory” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Ní Dhúill, Catríona. (2013). Engendering the future: Bloch’s utopian philosophy in dialogue with gender theory. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 144-163.

Summary:

Ní Dhúill argues that gender theory has a Blochian utopic core that uses unclaimed potentials in the past to critique present historical contexts and imagine actionable futures.

Keywords: feminism, gender, philosophy, theory, utopia

Quotations:

“The formulation of possibilities for change, then, is utopian, not in the sense of an unreal or unrealistic fantasy, but rather in the Blochian sense: imaginable alternative futures provide the horizon for the critique of the now” (p. 149).

“The utopian dimension of gender theory is dynamic rather than static. The aim is not to cancel history and instate a new perpetual order, but rather to identify both emancipatory and oppressive tendancies within the history of gender relations, and to offer critical perspectives on oppression and constraint with a view to expanding the scope and effectiveness of emancipation” (p. 160).

Notes: Catherine Moir, “The Education of Hope: On the Dialectical Potential of Speculative Materialism” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Moir, Catherine. (2013). The education of hope: On the dialectical potential of speculative materialism. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 121-143.

Summary:

Moir develops Bloch’s speculative materialism within contemporary philosophical contexts, exploring its relationships and departures from other material thought.

Keywords: materiality, new materialisms, philosophy, speculative materialism, theory,

Quotations:

“Bloch’s speculative materialism is dialectical and, as such, approaches the thought-being question in dialectical materialist terms, where being determines thought” (p. 122).

“We can therefore say that speculative philosophy responds to an injunction to think being in a non-correlative, non-identical way, without denying any relation between thought and being” (p. 126).

“[W]e might say that Bloch’s materialism can be called immanently speculative in that it locates the condition for the possibility of speculation in the material itself” (p. 131).

“The absolute is, therefore, what Bloch calls not-yet. Absolution is materially possible, but not certain. The injunction of speculative materialism to know the absolute thus consists not only in thinking what is whether we are or not, but also what is possible now that we are” (p. 137).

 

Notes: Roland Boer, “The Privatization of Eschatology and Myth: Ernst Bloch vs. Rudolph Bultmann” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Boer, Rudolph. (2013). The privatization of eschatology and myth: Ernst Bloch vs. Rudolph Bultmann. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 106-120.

Summary:

Boer works through the conversations between Bultmann and Bloch around their readings of religious texts, showing Bultmann’s as a deliberately depolitical and Bloch’s as intentionally political.

Keywords: capital, philosophy

Quotations:

“Existentialism is a means, a language that gives voice to the deep logic of middle-class capitalist ideology. With its focus on the private and sacrosanct individual, it effaces the world” (p. 114).

 

Notes: Peter Thompson, “Religion, Utopia, and the Metaphysics of Contingency” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Thompson, Peter. (2013). Religion, utopia, and the metaphysics of contingency. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 82-105.

Summary:

Thompson articulates Bloch’s philosophy, particularly around Bloch’s principle of hope’s connections to materiality, with its relationship to process and becoming, the contingency of existence.

Keywords: materiality, philosophy, speculative materialism, utopia

Quotations:

“Bloch was engaging in a form of speculative or transcendental materialism that attempted to create a materialist understanding of an as yet nonexistent future, an ‘ontology of the not yet,’ which could be used as a means of understanding and decoding the opaque nature of human existence and the way to move toward a self-created utopia” (p. 83).

“Thus what sets Bloch apart from Lacan and Žižek, but brings him closer to Badiou, is the sense that in the process of implementing utopia we will not simply find our way toward something but will actually construct that something in the process of attaining it” (p. 89).

“Bloch’s solution to this problem is, with Aristotle and Hegel of course, werden—process, becoming—in which the tendency and latency within matter changes matter itself and with it the contingency of existence. The event in Bloch then is merely a contingent stage in a process which cannot be appreciated at the moment of its eventuation, in the ‘darkness of the lived moment'” (p. 89).

Notes: Johan Siebers, “Ernst Bloch’s Dialectical Anthropology” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Siebers, Johan. (2013). Ernst Bloch’s dialectical anthropology. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 61-81.

Summary:

Siebers outlines the structures of thought operating in Bloch’s principle of hope, showing it as rooted in an anthropological thought that yet does not elevate the human.

Keywords: anthropology, materiality, philosophy, theory, utopianism

Quotations:

“History is the new as the mode of realization of the not-yet” (p. 63).

“The upright gait is, in Bloch’s philosophy, the principle of practical reason and functions as the criterion for action. The basic form of the proposition ‘S is not yet P’ expresses both the structure of the process of knowledge as well as the process of being and in a general way indicates what can be known. Identity, the unum necessarium in human and natural striving, builds the horizon of hop” (p. 64).

“Bloch’s philosophical anthropology and anthropological philosophy outlines the place of human existence in reality anew—in  a realist and materialist manner which sees idealism as a distortion of realism, materialism, not their truth. Philosophy is no longer contemplative. It is performative or, as it has been called here, dramatic. It is the praxis of hope, with yet uncharted possibilities” (p. 78).

Notes: Vincent Geoghegan, “An Anti-humanist Utopia?” in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek The Privatization of Hope: Ernst Bloch and the Future of Utopia

Geoghegan, Vincent. (2013). An anti-humanist utopia?. in Peter Thompson and Slavoj Žižek (eds.) The privatization of hope: Ernst Bloch and the future of utopia. Durham: Duke University Press, 37-60.

Summary:

Geoghegan explores the relationship between subject, nature, and natural subject in Bloch (by way of Bacon and Burke) to ask after an anti-humanist utopia.

Keywords: capitalism, neoliberalism, philosophy, posthumanism, theory, utopianism

Quotations:

“Bloch’s outline of a possible new relationship between humanity and nature draws upon a critique of the existing relationship in capitalism and a personal canon of historical conceptions—mythological, religious, philosophical, artistic—of a natural subject” (p. 45).

“The historical figure of a natural ‘subject’ is deemed to be both a semi-mythologized expression of this dynamic materialism and a prefiguring of an authentic natural subjectivity lying in the future” (p. 45).

“A distinction (admittedly polemical) can be made, whereby a self-critical can be distinguished from a self-loathing utopian anti-humanism” (p. 49).