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Ultimate Hope without God

The Atheistic Eschatology of Ernst Bloch


Thomas H. West

The work of the German Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch (1885-1977) is often referred to by theologians and philosophers of religion, but its enormous scope and complexity have made access to it difficult, especially for the English-speaking reader. Undergirded as it is by an ontology of hope, there is a pervasive tension in Bloch's work that moves it in contradictory directions. This tension also manifests itself in his politics, which alternate between an uncritical support of Stalinism and an almost otherworldly detachment from any concrete socialist program. Bloch's life and work, with a focus on his political allegiances, are thoroughly introduced in this book. Also, it offers a close reading of his greatest work, The Principle of Hope, an analysis of his philosophy of biblical religion, and a critical examination of his ontology of hope. Conversant with the latest scholarship and attentive to the needs of those who do not have easy access to the foreign language sources, this book is an ideal introduction to the work of Bloch, especially for those interested in his treatment of religion.
The Author: Born and raised in Minneapolis, Thomas H. West received his B.A. in Humanities from the University of Minnesota in 1964. He went from there to Marquette University, from which he received his M.A. in Theology in 1967. This was followed by two years of study in Germany at the Universities of Münster and Munich. He returned to the United States in 1969 to pursue his Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Religion at the Graduate Theological Union and the University of California, Berkeley. He received the Ph.D. from the GTU in 1975. After teaching at Santa Clara University and the University of St. Thomas, he took a position at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he is now Associate Professor of Theology.