The Principle of Hope

What it is all about? Many readers may wonder why we mentioned so often Hayek in this manual, although all what he wrote and said is completely irrelevant. The reason for that is simple. Hayek is illustrative. With Hayek it is possible to illustrate a lot of errors in thinking.

Concerning Ernst Bloch the most interesting point is Hayek's concept about freedom, the great buzzword of neoliberalism and similiar lines of thinking. The Hayek's concept of freedom is not interesting because of the meaning he gives to that word, but because of the fact that he doesn't give it any meaning. (He avoids to consider freedom as a problem relying in the subject, but the real problem is there.)

He wrotes actually hundred of pages about the issue, but the result can be summarized in a few sentences. Freedom for him means economic freedom. Provided that people have the money, they can buy everything they want and provided they have the skills and access to the money market, they can produce whatever they want. That's all, but not a big thing, because this is already achieved, at least in any industrialised country.

A market economy is more efficient in the allocation of resources. That is true, but has little to do with liberty nor in subjective, individuals are aware of alternatives, nor in an objective sense, people are free from external coercion.

The definition of Hayek, free of coercion, means nothing in practice. In this sense east-germans were free after the fall of the wall. They can travel wherever they want, they can start a business, they can work wherever they want and so on. In practice they could travel knowhere for a lack of money, they coudn't start a company, because they had no access to the credit market and most of them were unemployed. Without social transfers from West-Germany, 2,5 trillions euros in 15 years, East - Germany would had been politicaly destabilized. (If someone doesn't know what 2,5 trillion euros means. The PIB of Germany, all what Germany produces in one year, is 3 trillion euros.)

To give the priority to freedom is even risky. That means that a market economy is even preferable, if it is less efficient, provided that freedom, however it is defined, is guaranteed. Freedom is kind of an utopian surplus, but only in an abstract and meaningless sense, because there is no concretisation of the term.

The same problem we have with Popper. An open society without an utopian surplus is a very closed event. Popper hypostatises that there is something 'beyond' the present states that pulls the society forward, but he doesn't explain us what that 'beyond' can possibly be. His open society is as meaningless as the 'spirit of the world' of Hegel, he qualifies as an oracling philosopher.

From two different perspectives Adorno and Bloch addresses the same problem. In both cases the horizon is not open naturally. Adorno addresses the problem that market economies tends to narrow the horizon and to neutralize the subject, see The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception and Bloch explores the country future.

There is little to explore in the country future if we assume that things are stable. This is the basic error. Actually there is only one thing on earth which is really stable. The belief that some things are stable. Anything else is unstable.

We cannot even say that the most basic assumption of economics, the scarcity of resources, will be true in the future. It is well possible that in 100 years basic needs can be satisfied without any work. (Actually it is already almost true in the present. 200 years ago people spend most of their income for food. Today only a minimal part of the income is spend for food and this food is of a much higher quality than 200 years ago. Not a lot of phantasy is needed to imagine that houses are constructed by robots in the future and the prices for houses be reduced dramatically.) It is possible that in 100 years, or even less, nobody cares about the allocation of resources, because productivity is so high, that a little waste doesn't matter. A lot of people have the impression that it wouldn't be a big problem to satisfy at least the basic needs of the whole humanity, if only the production would be better organised and the spread of know how more efficient.

A lot of assumption has been made during history about certain ethnical groups and some "typical" characteristics were assigned to them. However no ethnical group had ever had stable characteristics in the course of history.

Stable relationships are assumed for the "genetic potential". It is assumed that there is always a difference in the abilities of the people. This is even true. However since the beginning of history people become more and more smarter from one generation to the other. The complexity of the modern world is much higher than 200 year ago, but people has adapted themselves to this complexity. It seems that the abilities depend more on the circunstances, than on the "genetic potential". There are differences in a generation, but these differences are negligible in comparison to the difference between the people living in the 20st century and the 15st century. That doesn't mean that things will automatically improve. That only means, that we can never say that something is impossible.

However only technical progress is able to break the belief in stabilities, because its success is obvious and cannot be questioned. Concerning technical progress people are nowadays induced to believe possible almost anything. If google offers tomorrow the possibility to deliver a coke through the internet sending it directly to the compartment of the CD player, most people would only say that it took to much time until this service was offered.

Beyond a technical context, people assume stability, even if they have made during their lifetime the experience that things can chance in a short time dramatically. Only fourty years ago homosexual relationships were criminalised even in western countries. Nowaday they can marry. A considered stable public opinion has changed completely in a few years.

Fifty years ago, when a lot of italian workers come to Germany, they were considered as "foreigners". Today most people would simply say that their mother tongue is not german but italian, but only few people would say that they are "foreigners".

Fourty years ago nobody, absolutely nobody, would have ever expected that 19 european country get a unique currency. Today everybody considers that normal.

To put it short: It is a curious fact that there are millions of books about history. History is even a science that can be studied at the university, but the future can't be studied nowhere. It is assumed that the past determines the future, that we have "to learn" something from history, that we need to know "where we come from" and things like that. This author would say that the future is much more interesting, because we will live in the future, not in the past.

Furthermore this author would say that behaviour of human beings is determined by the future, by their visions, hopes and alternatives and not by their past and still less by the past of prior generations.

Very often it is assumend that we can not only "learn" from history, but that history determines the behaviour of the people. The idea that the behaviour of the people is determined by the past negates the ability of the people to plan the future.

It is for instance argued that between France and Germany existed kind of an hereditary enmity and that these countries were not able to stop that. Or that Germans stick more than other countries to the stability of the currency due to their experiences in the 20th of the last century and things like that.

History shows, that's actually the only thing we can "learn" from history, that people can change the course of things at any time and that history has very little impact on the future.

[We will see later on that for the same reason Bloch criticises the psychology of Sigmund Freud. Sigmund Freud assumes that personal experiences determines the behaviour of the people and that 'dreams', more exactly 'night dreams', processes these experiences. To the 'night dreams' Bloch opposes the 'day dreams'. In the day dreams people "reorganise" reality perhaps in a non very realistic way, but 'day dreams' addresses the future, not the past.]

Ernst Bloch is the only philosopher who deals exclusively with the future. His main work, The Principle of Hope, consists of three volumes and 1600 pages. It appears between 1955 and 1957.

Popper assumes that it is enough to hypostasise the open society, but without any utopian surplus the open society is simply the confirmation of the status quo. The hypostasised open society is very closed, see The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception.

Furthermore he assumes that the biggest problem the world is confronted with are the ideologies of Platon, Hegel and Marx, see The open Society and its Ennemies. Daily life experiences shows something different. The biggest problem the world is confronted with is the idea that some things are stable.

A very prominent example for that is for instance the theory of David Ricardo. He took four things for stable, the eternally growing population, the scarcity of land, the accumulation of capital and wages that never will be higher as the subsistence level. From the perspective of his time this was true. From a historical point of view all that was completely wrong. It is chrystel clear that under these assumption there is no utopian surplus.

We have learned in the last twenty years, we are still in 2015, that a simple set of technologies, the internet, can revolutionise almost all the spheres of social live. The way we communicate and the prices we pay for communication, the way we do shopping, the we way we learn and get information is affected by the internet and will be even more affected in the future. A lot of things that we took for granted, for instance that university studies are expensive or the power of the mass media, are no longer true. In a very short period of time the internet has overthrown global publishers and created very big companies. To give some examples. Nothing is stable.

The texts of Ernst Bloch are no easy reading. However if some simple things are understood it becomes quickly clear what it is about. The problem is that Bloch uses a "hegelian" terminology.

Bloch tries to define the frontline, defined as the line where the horizon opens. Frontline means two different things. There is an NOT REALIZED YET and a NOT YET. (The terms must be accepted like that. There are a lot of terms like that in the philosophy of Ernst Bloch.) The NOT REALIZED YET is a concrete tendency in the present, that can be realized. The NOT YET is something that exists in the phantasy, but has no chance to be realized. The NOT REALIZED YET and the NOT YET describe social, technical, political and organizational constellations. Opposed to the NOT REALIZED YET and the NOT YET is the NO. The NO is all that definitely doesn't exist already.

What does that mean? The NO is simply emptiness, without any content at all. But the NO is nothing is nothing satisfying. The NO is something that wants something, although it doesn't know what. (This is the opposite of Freud. Freud assumes that the libido is the main impuls. Bloch assumes, that it is 'hunger'.) The NO is not failure, this is what distinguishes it from NOTHING. The NO is a state of expectation, of looking for something. The NOT YET has content, is one step further. This content can be idiot, never realizable and not even be worth to be realized, but it is more concret, it can be a NOT POSSIBLE YET. This NOT POSSIBLE YET is more concrete, it is waiting that the conditions for it realization will come soon in order to enter the state of NOT REALIZED YET.

The NOT YET is the state furthest away from realisation. When Jules Vernes wrote his novel "In eighty days around the world" it was something utopic, but should the direction though. The dream came into the world and there were forces who joined the dream in order to make it happen. The 'day dreams' are of the same category. In the day dreams, which are the opposite of the night dreams we don't dominate, we construct the reality as we pleased. Some of these dreams are NOT YET POSSIBLE, there is no objective force that joins this dream.

Sounds theoretic, but the other idea, that people are determined from their collective or individual history is still more theoretic. The thesis of Popper, that we cannot predict the future because we don't know what we will know tomorrow is true. The problem with Popper is, that he doesn't tell us, where the utopian surplus should come from.

We read very often that Bloch was a a 'marxist' author. The same thing is said about Adorno. The problem is, that marxism, is most of all an economic theory and if we say that Block or Adorno were philosophers of a marxist tendency, it is assumed that they agree with the basic theses of marxism, for instance that the value of a commodity depends on the labour incorporated in this system, that saving is something physical, that it is the accumulation of capital that drives history and so on, see Karl Marx.

The problem is, that neither Bloch nor Adorno assent or refute all these ideas, they simply ignore them. Beside that none of them were economists. It can be doubted, even if they were interested in these issues, what was not the case, that they would have been able to see the flaws in the marxist economic theory. In any case the socialist regime in the now vanished away East-Germany were not convinced at all that Bloch was a 'marxist' author and Bloch lost his tenure at the university of Leipzig.

The 1600 pages of the Principle of Hope revolve therefore around the question how the depopulated country future can be populated. Economists don't talk about goals. The question of economics is how to reach any goal in the most efficient way. The goal itself is irrelevant. However everbody agrees that it can be very useless to reach the wrong goal efficiently. Popper assumes that people automatically pursue the right goals and that any interference of the state concerning the goals is way to totalitarism. That may even be true, but that's not the point of Bloch. The point of Bloch is that there must be the broadest range possible of alternatives.

Let's recapitulate that. We have already seen that marxism and neoclassical theory are actually very similar, although most people consider them as diametrically opposed. Both systems suppose that there are universally valid economics laws, see for instance methodological approach, and whatever the subject does, it is impossible to fight against the universally valid economic laws. To be more concrete: There is actually no subject. In both lines of thinking we have no entrepreneur, a central figur in the economy, and no capitalists. We have only capital, that follows some universally valid laws the same way, the moon is kept in his orbit by the laws of physics. In the first case 'the capital' accumulates itself, without any interference from human beings and for whatever reason, and in the second case it flows alone to the most profitable use.

With the neoliberalism and the austrian school we get something like a subject, because a great emphasis is given to 'freedom' and freedom is obviously something that can only be conceived by a subject, by human beings. However this point of view is somehow theoretical as long as it remains unclear what freedom means. Freedom is only a useful term if is compared to the possible alternatives and the amount of alternatives is very restricted in both systems, see The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception. There is little freedom, if we assume that people just adapt themselves to the needs of a machine.

Therefore Bloch, as well as Adorno, are opposed to both systems. Agent of history is the subject and its decision making and not universally valid economic laws. Human beings decide about the goals, how this goals are obtained in the most efficient way, is important, but secondary.

To assume that the goals are completely independent from their culture is absurd and without culture the goals are the satisfaction of basic instincts. Humanity wouldn't stick to culture if it didn't believe that in the long run life is more interesting with culture. The big question is therefore how the utopian surplus comed into the world.

We will illustrate with a paragraph the way of thinking of Ernst Bloch. That sounds very hegelian. However in The Principle of Hope Ernst Blochs gives an interpretation as well of Goethe's Faust and this is actually a much easier way to understand his philosophy. This interpretation is by the way very similar to what we find in most interpretations of this work. It can therefore be said, that the philosphy of Ernst Bloch is not so far away from what a lot of people believe and furthermore we have similar works in other cultures, for instance En la ardiente oscuridad by Antonio Buero Vallejo.

To keep it simple: There is an endless number of philosophical, economic, psychological, social lines of thinking that predicts eternal misery. All these lines of thinking Schopenhauer, Oswald Spengler, Malthus etc. etc.. and most religions preaches that earth is the hell. Even the question "if life make sense", a question that bother most people, is already strange. Do we ask if a funny party does make any sense?

Hope can be deceived, but there is enough utopian surplus, that achievement is possible.

The language is very special. The numbers have been introduced by the authors. We will interpret this paragraph sentence by sentence.

(1) Was an sich und unmittelbar als Jetzt vor sich geht, ist so noch leer. (2) Das Daß [mit Daß meint er das, was den Weltprozess in Gang setzt], im Jetzt ist hohl, ist nur erst unbestimmt, als ein gärend Nicht. (3) Als das Nicht, womit alles ansetzt und beginnt, um das jedes Etwas noch gebaut ist. (4) Das Nicht ist nicht da, aber indem es derart das Nicht eines Da ist, ist es nicht einfach Nicht, sondern zugleich das Nicht-Da. (5) Als solches hält es das Nicht bei sich nicht aus, ist vielmehr aufs Da eines Etwas treibend bezogen. (6) Das Nicht ist Mangel an Etwas und ebenso Flucht aus diesem Mangel; so ist es Treiben nach dem was ihm fehlt. (7) Mit Nicht wird also das Treiben in den Lebewesen abgebildet: Als Trieb, Bedürfnis, Streben und primär als Hunger. (8) In diesem aber meldet sich das Nicht eines Da als ein Nicht-Haben, und zwar durchaus als ein Nicht, nicht als ein Nichts. (9) Weil das Nicht Anfang zu jeder Bewegung nach Etwas ist, so ist es ebendrum keineswegs ein Nichts. (10) Vielmehr: Nicht und Nichts müssen zunächst soweit voneinander gehalten werden wie möglich; das ganze Abenteuer der Bestimmung liegt in ihnen. (11) Das Nicht liegt im Ursprung als das noch Leere, Unbestimmte, Unentschiedene, als Start zum Anfang; das Nichts dagegen ist ein Bestimmtes. (12) Es setzt Bemühungen voraus, lang ausgebrochenen Prozess, der schließlich vereitelt wird; (13) und der Akt des Nichts ist nicht wie der des Nicht ein Treiben, sondern eine Vernichtung. (14) Auf das Nicht bezieht sich das Dunkel des gelebten Augenblicks. (15) Auf das Nichts erst das negative Staunen, genau wie das positive sich auf das Alles bezieht. (16) Das Nicht ist freilich Leere, aber zugleich der Trieb, aus ihr herauszubrechen; im Hunger, in der Entbehrung vermittelt sich die Leere gerade als horror vacui, gerade also Abscheu des Nicht vor dem Nichts. (17) Und auch an diesem Punkt, besonders an diesem, zeigt sich, dass kategoriale Grundbegriffe (Gründlichkeiten) einzig durch die Affektlehre hindurch zugänglich gemacht werden. (18) Denn nur die Affekte, nicht die Affektlosen, vielmehr affektlos gemachten Gedanken reichen so tief in die ontische Wurzel, dass an sich so abstrakt scheinende Begriffe wie Nicht, Nichts, Alles samt ihren Unterscheidungen mit Hunger, Verzweiflung (Vernichtung), Zuversicht ( Rettung) synonym werden. (19) Diese Begriffe erhellen so die Grundaffekte, wie die Grundaffekte die ontologischen Grundbegriffe indem sie ihnen den intensiven Stoff kenntlich machen, dem sie entspringen, durch den sie brennen, und den sie erhellen. (20) Ontologische Grundbegriffe: Hier werden also das Nicht, das Noch-Nicht, das Nichts oder aber das Alles als diejenigen ausgezeichnet, welche in abgekürzester Terminologie den intensiv sich bewegenden Weltstoff in seinen drei Hauptmomenten kenntlich machen. (21) Darum bezeichnen diese scharf-gedrängten Grundbegriffe Realkategorien nämlich Gebietskategorien der Realität durchaus; denn ihre konzise Ontologie bildet den objektiven Affektgehalt, also Intensitätsgehalt in den drei Hauptmomenten der Prozessmaterie aufs angenähertste ab.

Ernst Bloch, Das Prinzip Hoffnung, Band I, Frankfurt am Main, 1959, page 356

(1)What happens immediately in the NOW, is still empty. (2)The IN ORDER TO [in other world, what keeps the world moving] is hollow in the NOW, undefined, exists only as a fermenting NO. (3) Exists as a NO, that is the beginning of all and around what everything is wrapped. (4)The NO is not there, but being the NO of a not there it is not just NO, but a NOT THERE. (5) As NO it can't stand alone, it always refers driving to something. (6) The NO is the lack of something but at the same time the attempt to escape from this NO. It strives to that what is missing. (7) The NO is therefore the driving force in living beings: As drive, need, striving and primary as hunger. (8) But this way the NO of a THERE anounces itself as a not having, but only as a NO and not as a NOTHING. (9)The NO is the beginning of something and is therefore in no way a NOTHING. (10) It is crucial to distinguish between NO and NOTHING, the whole adventures lies in these two terms. (11) The NO is at the beginning as empty, undefined and undecided, as the beginning of the start, wheras the NOTHING is well defined. (12) It supposes efforts, processes that have started long before and finally failed; (13) the NOTHING is not characterised by driving towards something as the NO, it is an elimination. (14) The NO refers to the darkness of the present moment. (15) To the nothing the negative astonishment like the positive astonishment refers to the ALL. (16) The NO is emptiness, but at the same time the drive to escape from it; in the hunger, in the deprivation the emptiness shows up as horror vacui (the fear of emptiness), in other words as an abhorrence of the nothing. (17) At this point, and especially at this point, we see that categorial basic concepts can only be understood by the studying the afffects. (18) Because only the affects, not the affectless thoughts, or better the made affectless thoughts, reach the ontologic root and can make understandable why abstract terms like NO, NOTHING, ALL together with their distinction hunger, desesperation, confidence are synomyms. (19) These notions clarify the basic affects by expressing the intensive tissue they arise from, through which they burn and which they illuminate.(20) Basic ontological concepts: The ontological concepts NO, NOT YET and NOTHING or ALL qualify in abbreviated forms the tissue of the world in its three main states. (21) Those sharp basic concepts are real categories or areas because their precise ontolgy describe the objective character of the affects, the degree of intensity in the three main moments of the processing substance in a very precise way. The NO, not being able to stand alone describe the intensiv and interested origin (the IN ORDER TO that leads to realisation).

[If we want to summarize this in a very philosophical way it is the exact opposite of Hegel as well as of Marx, but we don't want to consider it from such a philosophical perspective. However, if Karl Popper had read Ernst Bloch, he would have realized that Bloch argues in favour of an open society and therefore against any lines of thinking, Hegel or Freud, who assumes that people are determined by the past or that the ideal society can be found in the past or that we can "learn" something from the past. Furthermore he refute the thesis, in opposite to Karl Marx, that the capital drives the history of the world.

The term NOTHING, that exists in the hegelian philosophy as well, has a complete different meaning in the philosophy of Bloch. NOTHING in the philosophy of Hegel is at the beginning of history. The 'spirit of the world' is still unfolded and a historical process is needed in order to get him unfolded and only unfolded it recognizes itself. Or to put it with Adorno: The origin is the aim. NOTHING has a completely different meaning in the philosophy of Bloch. NOTHING is the ultimate failure and opposed to ALL. NO is something completely different than NOTHING and NO is just empty, the feeling of un undefined lack of something. Bloch never defines an ideal state a "closed society". The opposity is true. Behind any new horizon that becomes visible, we will see a broader one by approaching it. To put that short and simple: We can assume that people always dreamed of communicating over long distances, but only the telegraph made that possible. Once they had it, the horizon becomes broader and the telephon was realised, than the smartphone. In the future we will see devices that simplifies this communication even more. That is always true: Behind a horizon there is always a broader one, in any areas not only in technology.]

It is a stunning phenomenon that people believe that the present is determined by the past and therefore as well of the future. There are thousands of articles on the internet who put forward this thesis, this one is an intelligent example of this kind, Why Study History? (1998), although the basic argument remains the same. We learn from history. This is stunning, because real life experiences shows us, that people are driven by ideas, by completely new things.

To give an example. Germany will accept this year, we are still in 2015, almost 1 million of refugees in ONE year. It does that, because the ideas has changed completely. There is no prior experience that leads to this acceptance, it is a change of ideas. The german population is no longer willing to accept, that these people are send back to unsafe countries where their lifes are in danger and they care very little where these people come from, to which religion they belong to and if that is a "business" or not. (At least the majority.) If we compare this situation to the situation in the 60th of the last centure, where people come to work in germany requested by the economy, but nevertheless considered as foreigners, even spaniards, italians and so on were considered foreigners in those times, who after a while should go back, we have a dramatic change. Ideas, knowledge and know how change the world, not history.

If we would learn only from history, we would have kind of a self fulfilling prophecy. If we would deduce from history that people behave in a certain way, there would be little place for experiences. If we learn from history that some drug is the best suited to cure a certain illness, we will never find a better one, because we will never try.

[And by the way: It can be doubted that we learn a lot from history. Phenomenons like the national-socialism and the following desaster are actually completely not understood, although there are million of books about the issue.]

Still more evident is the refutation of the freudian psychology. Freud knows only night dreams, that results from unconscious and oppressed wishes. For Bloch more relevant are the day dreams and this author would say, that the day dreams are indeed more relevant, because the night dreams have actually no practical relevance, but the day dreams do have a practical relevance. It may be a bad idea that someone dreams during the day that he can fly if he starts doing it from the third floor, but dreaming of it can be the beginning of constructing an airplane. The freudian night dream is never productive. The content of a day dreams are not unconscious. They may be unrealistic, but not unconscious and if they are unrealistic, they can become realistic.

For the same reason he refutes the thesis of C.G.Jung. Art is for C.G.Jung the expression of the collective unconsciousness. For Bloch, and Adorno as well, art is the reflection of the "ensemble of social relationships" and contains an utopian surplus even if these relationships are refuted, because even the refutation signals that it could be better.

The fact that people stick to the past, although they do the opposite in practice, can be explained. We know a lot about the past and nothing about the future and people want to "prove" their theories. Concerning the future there are only few things that can be "proved", unless the NOT YET appears as a clear technological possibility.

Actually we could learn from history that ideas changed the course of history, but very few people draw this conclusion. That would be even contradictory. If we can learn from history, that ideas change the course of history, than we can learn from history, that we can learn nothing from history, because the course of history can be changed at any moment by new ideas. For a very long time for instance slavery was accepted and based on the idea that human "races" are different and most of all that any human "race" has stable characteristics. Today the last thesis is not accepted at all and the first thing would not even be accepted if this thesis were true.

If a new tribe were discovered somewhere in the Amazon today nobody would try to subjugate it, as is was the custom 300 years ago. A lot of linguists, anthropologist, psychologists, sociologist, economists etc. would be study the phenomenon.

What can we possible learn from history if history itself teaches us, that the course of history can change its course at any time?

Karl Popper is more concerned about utopian visions than about stagnation, but this author would say that from a purely economic point of view the lack of new ideas, innovations, transfer of know how, entrepreneurship is a much bigger problem than utopian visions. Popper assumes that we have to much of utopian vision. This author would say, we have not enough of that. The real problem is exactly the opposite of what Popper believed. If Karl Popper believed that Platon, Hegel and Marx were the biggest threat for the open society, he lived in a very confined society. Hope is something that people must learn. That is the message of Ernst Bloch.

[Not very philosophical, but perhaps some people understand it better this way. There are even exercises for that in buiseness seminars. Brain storming for instance is one of them. In these seminars people are invited to "spin" a little bit in order to find unusual solutions for some problems. The fact that people tend to stick to their convictions and assume that some thing is "like that", was always like that and will never change is not only a philosophical problem. It is a very concrete economic problem.]

The opponents of Bloch, from both sides of the political spectrum, qualifies his philosophy as idealistic, romantic, euphoric etc.. This author would say that it is simply realistic. A lot of social changes, no need to talk about technical advances, that are considered trivial today, seemed completely utopian 200 years ago. For Adam Smith or David Ricardo social insurance was something completely inconceivable. Today it is something completely normal. A little bit utopian seems still today the unconditional basic income. It is to assume that this is going to change in the next few years.

Today it seems very utopian to treat wars the same way strike are treated in conflict between employers' association and unions. Strike is possible, but only if it has been previously announced and only after third parties has had the possibility to look for compromises. In other words the potential warring parties must previously announce their intentions to the UN and the UN looks for a compromise. Any non previously declared war is illegal, the UN had the right and the duty to intervene, to stop it and to punish the responsables. That's sounds very utopian, but actually there are tendencies going in this direction.

It is a strange linguistic phenomenon that utopy is pejorative, while the word dream can serve as well to describe the beauty of something. ('The dream of a better life' or the vary famous one 'I have a dream'). The dreamer at the other hand has problems with reality in general. It seems that humanity has still an unclear relationship concerning the future. A problem that must be fixed.

People in general tend to be conservative. From their experiences of the past they deduce what is going to happen in the future. This is not only true in the sense of Ernst Bloch, it is true as well for the economy. In this sense there is something true in the description of the creative destructor of Joseph Schumpeter. The schumpeterian creative destructor has a "vision" and he imposes his "vision" on the conservative majority. Needless to say that Joseph Schumpeter is diametrically opposed to the philosophy of Ernst Bloch. Joseph Schumpeter refers to new products, not to changes in the social, political structure, way of life or a general change in the prevailing ideas and values. But the observation that people tend to be conservative is correct.

In part the phenomenon can be explained by the fact that every time a utopia becomes reality, people quickly take that change for normal. If someone had said 30 year ago, we are still in 2015, that one day it will be possible to write a letter, with images, sound etc. to someone anywhere in the world for free and that this letter gets to the addressee in seconds, he would have been taken for foolish. Nowadays it is normal. People under 20 years cannot even imagine that it had been ever different.

People don't learn the right lesson from history. History shows us, that everything changes. The technic, the political or social organisation, the prevailing ideas and values. Actually the only thing that we can learn from history, is the fact that we can learn nothing from history. It is often assumed that we learn from history "where we come from" and things like that. That what students learn at school. That is nonsense. We come from the future, not from the past. There are more alternatives in the future, than in the past.

Technological utopias imposes themselves by force. People have problems accepting them, but finally they accept them. The utopias Ernst Bloch talks about refers more to a change in the prevailing ideas and values. If a utopia refers to a change in the social structure where the whole society has to participate, it is more difficult. In general this is only possible if the prevailing concepts and ideas led to catastrophy and even then it is difficult. The european unification was the result of world war II and imposed by a political elite. If was an expression of the "open society" (Popper) or a "road to serfdom" (Hayek) we don't know, because both terms are completely meaningless. In any case behind the european unification is an utopian vision, although there are a lot of problems. Uncontrolled bureaucracies are always a problem and european bureaucracies are completely uncontrolled.

Popper and a lot of other people didn't understand that the philosophy of Ernst Bloch is diametrically opposed to marxism. The subject doesn't count in marxism, is not even mentioned. 'Capial', not CAPITALISTS, drives the history and 'labour' not WORKERS are exploited. He assumes that capital and labour are driven by economic laws, that are similar to natural laws, see Karl Marx. Karl Marx is therefore very similar to the neoclassical theory we find in any textbook about microeconomics. It is assumed that the neoclassical theory is the opposite of marxism, but that is nonsense. The methodological approach, and this is in this context more important that the basic statements, is the same. There is no subject in these lines of thinking.

Ernst Bloch is completely opposed to both. NO, NOTHING and ALL are connected to basic affects and only a subject can have affects. Subject, individuals, drive history and subjects are in the center of his philosophy. To NO correspond the affect hunger, the hunger for something. To NOTHING corresponds desesperation and only a subject can be desesperated, to ALL confidence. As long as there is a NO, a lack of something felt by a subject, history is not finished. Ernst Bloch is a bottom-up modell and not a top-down modell like the utopia as it is conceived by Karl Popper. Popper assumes, that utopia adapts the individuum to the needs of utopia and that is true for marxism. In East - Germany they tried to create a "class consciousness". Bloch is the exact opposite. The starting point is the subject. 'Capital' and 'labour' doesn't have hunger, they are never desesperated and they are never confident and most of all they have no dreams, because things don't dream. Bloch is exclusively about the subject. That's the reason why he lost his job as a professor at the university of Leipzig. The political caste understood, in contrary to Popper, that Bloch is completely incompatible with marxism. The "classeless society" was for Bloch at most an interim goal, but nothing he really cared about.

If Popper had really read Bloch, he should had realised as well that Bloch implicetely made the same criticism on historicism than he himself. Historicism is the supposition that there are tendencies, laws, pattern in history that allows to predict the future. In the philosophy of Bloch there are no patterns of this kind and the future is unpredictable. Both is possible. The NOTHING, total failure, and the ALL, total achievement, but it depends on human decisions. However there is enough utopian surplus in art, music, philosophical concepts, literature, landscapes, social mouvements etc. that can fill the NO with something. The difference between Popper and Bloch ist this: Historicism is without any doubt an error in thinking, but criticism of historicism without utopian surplus is stagnation and stagnation is more or less the same thing that historicism. In the first case it is assumed that we can predict the future, in the second case we can predict that nothing is going to happen. That is more or less the same. If we assume that nothing is going to happen, we predict the future.

A philosophy that starts with the subject and his hunger, is by definition completely anti-ideological. Ideology always means that the subject accepts, consciously or unconsciously, that for a 'higher' reason certain things must be accepted.

Popper reproached to the Frankfurt School their obscure style of writing that suggests "deep thought" where in reality is only gossip. This author would say that this is true for Popper and his friends from the Mont Pélerin Society. All the terms they use, collectivism, socialism, freedom, totalitarism, open society are not really defined and nothing else than vague associations, see a variation of a theory of totalitarism.

Lets interprete the paragraph above sentence by sentence.

(1) This is obviously Hegel, although Bloch in the next sentences changes completely the meaning of the hegelian terms. In the hegelian philosophy the qualities, in other words the unfolding of the spirit of the world happens throughout and by history. Qualities are therefore always mediated and without mediation, there is nothing. Lo que pasa por lo tanto in the now, in other words unconsciously, is empty. The difference is obvious. In the hegelian philosophy the qualities are already there at the beginning, although unconsciously and they must only be unfolded. In the philosophy of Bloch qualities are a dynamic process between ever changing objective conditions and ever changing subjective consciousness. Nothing that exists at the beginning. If Popper would have read Bloch instead of just polemize, he would have seen that Bloch describes an open society. We don't know what we can hope. We can see a horizon, but after this horizon, there is another one. The qualities are not at the beginning, they are at the end.

(2)The IN ORDER TO [in other world, what keeps the world moving] is hollow in the NOW, undefined, exists only as a fermenting NO: What keeps the world going forward, exists only in the form of a lack of something, has no direction. What is felt is not necessarily the lack of something concrete, but the lack of something. The lack of this something and the resulting 'hunger' in the broader mean of the term, is felt only a a NO.

(3) Exists as a NO, that is the beginning of all and around what everything is wrapped: This NO, the feeling of the lack of something, leds to a concretisation, to a way how this lack can be eliminated.

(4) The NO is not there, but being the NO of a not there it is not just NO, but a NOT THERE: Here starts the refutation of the hegelian philosophy. In the philosophy of Hegel there is only a NOTHING, but this NOTHING is not the complete failure, as in the philosophy of Bloch, but the immediate beeing. In other words: The things that shows up in history, have existed already, in an immediate way, but only if they show up in history, they are mediated and the 'spirit of the world' became aware who he is. (If one wants one can see a similarity to the christian religion. Genesis, 1, 26: Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."
That means that man was already complete from the very beginning, and the history is only an unfolding of what he is. We will see later on, that this is exactly the opposite of the position of God in the Faust of Goethe.) The NO of Bloch, very different from NOTHING, is the lack of something, but this something does not necessarily exist already. The ALL by the way refers to the world and not, like in any religion, to something beyond the world.

(5) As NO it can't stand alone, it always refers driving to something: Es otra indirecta contra Hegel. La deficiencia, el sentir del hambre, debe ser eliminada. Lo que empuja la historia son efectos fundamentales y no un espíritu del mundo abstracto.

(6) The NO is the lack of something but at the same time the attempt to escape from this NO. It strives to that what is missing: What pushes the 'spirit of the world' to leave the state of the not mediated, where it is simply NOTHING, not in the meaning of Bloch, is unclear. In the philosophy of Bloch in any case it it the NO, that corresponds to the affect of hunger.

(7) The NO is therefore the driving force in living beings: As drive, need, striving and primary as hunger: Another allusion to Hegel. What keeps history moving are the affects of human beings, and not the desire of the "spirit of the world" to recognize itself.

(8) But this way the NO of a THERE anounces itself as a not having, but only as a NO and not as a NOTHING: Once again a direct allusion to Hegel. The NOTHING of Hegel has nothing to do with the NOTHING of Bloch. The NOTHING of Hegel is an ontological notion that describes the beginning, before the 'spirit of the world' has started to unfold itself. The NOTHING of Bloch, that should not be confused with the NO, is the result of a failed process, it is therefore at the end as a possible complete failure.

(9) The NO is the beginning of something and is therefore in no way a NOTHING: Actually the whole paragraph is kind of an Anti-Hegel. The NO, the hunger, is the BEGINNING of something, something that didn't exist before and is therefore not a NOTHING, the complete failure. In the philosophy of Hegel NOTHIng is at the beginning.

(10) It is crucial to distinguish between NO and NOTHING, the whole adventures lies in these two terms:This is the crucial point for Bloch. Nothing corresponds to the definitive failure and to this definite failure corresponds the affect desesperation. Nothing is a possible outcome of a historical process. The definite failure and opposed to ALL. However this ALL is undefined. There is a way in that direction, but no concrete utopia. It is therefore ridiculous to illustrate utopia with Platon, Hegel and Marx. There is an endless number of utopian surplus in many different areas. (Beside all the other problems already mentioned, see The open Society and its Ennemies.)

(11) The NO is at the beginning as empty, undefined and undecided, as the beginning of the start, wheras the NOTHING is well defined: The hegelian NOTHING is only a state of unconsciousness, but not empty and still less undefined. The NO of Bloch is really undefined. At the beginning there is really nothing, what ever the hunger can satisfy, it is undefined at the beginning. That means as well that the simple refutation of the actual state, the lack of something, is already the start of a beginning and has more utiopian surplus, than the acceptance of the lack. This is the position of the Faust by Goethe. Faust is only negation, without concrete alternatives.

(12) It supposes efforts, processes that have started long before and finally failed: NADA no es un comienzo. NOTHING supposes an effort. Something has been tried, but failed. It is the end of the process and desribes complete failure. In the hegelian philosophy history can't fail, because whatever happens, it is an expression of the 'spirit of the world'.

(13) the NOTHING is not characterised by driving towards something as the NO, it is an elimination: NO is the lack of something and as a lack of something it is looking for something, although this something is undefined and sometimes even foolish. Don Quijote for instance was looking for something, a life full of adventures, beauty, fame, etc. but the world he lived in, a little village in La Mancha, was a place where none of this could be found. His "solution" was madness. However NOTHING, in the meaning Bloch gives to this term, is not undefined. It is a complete failure.

(14) The NO refers to the darkness of the present moment: This one is a little bit difficult to understand. The author assumes that the idea is the same that in these verses taken from the Faust by Goethe.

When, to the Moment then, I say:
‘Ah, stay a while! You are so lovely!’
Then you can grasp me: then you may,
Then, to my ruin, I’ll go gladly!
Then they can ring the passing bell,
Then from your service you are free,
The clocks may halt, the hands be still,
And time be past and done, for me!

There is a bet between Faust and Mephistopheles. If Mephistopheles succeds in providing such a happy moment to Faust that this will only wish that it will last forever, he would have won the bet and could bring Faust to hell. However Faust, and by the way God, assumes that this will never happen. At any moment Faust will feel a lack for something.

(15) To the nothing the negative astonishment like the positive astonishment refers to the ALL: The All is a theoretical notion in the philosophy of Bloch. The ALL would have been reached if a moment could last forever without any feeling of a lack. At the same time the ALL means that there will be always something that can satisfy the lack. The correspondend affect is confidence.

(16) The NO is emptiness, but at the same time the drive to escape from it; in the hunger, in the deprivation, the emptiness shows up as horror vacui (the fear of emptiness), in other words as an abhorrence of the nothing: The NO is really emptiness, from a subjective, related to the single individuum, and from an objective, related to development of history, point of view. Every kind of something is the result of a process. At the beginning is just emptiness. (In other paragraphs Bloch addresses the issue that the 'hunger' is not completely aimless, he is looking for the something that fits him best. In this sense people become what they are at the beginning. However they can only become what they are, if there is something corresponding in the object.)

(17) At this point, and especially at this point, we see that categorial basic concepts can only be understood by the studying the afffects.

(18) Because only the affects, not the affectless thoughts, or better the made affectless thoughts, reach the ontologic root and can make understandable why abstract terms like NO, NOTHING, ALL together with their distinction hunger, desesperation, confidence are synomyms: The allusions against Hegel are obvious. Arbitrary thoughts don't move anything and still less an spirit of the world with the desire to unfolded. 'Hunger', in its broadest meaning, drives history, in other words subjects. The term 'the made affectless thoughts' describes a phenomenon of the academic world. Where thinking is a simple business without connection to reality, it is not directed to resolving problems.

(19) These notions clarify the basic affects by expressing the intensive tissue they arise from, through which they burn and which they illuminate: The intensive issue is the world, more precisely the REAL world. The hegelian 'Spirit of the World' doesn't care about human beings. 'Hunger' doesn't change the real world and the real world is not affected by 'hunger' in the philosophy of Hegel. This could be seen as the only element where we can see a similarity to marxism. In this sense we can say that matter drives history.

(20)Basic ontological concepts: The ontological concepts NO, NOT YET and NOTHING or ALL qualify in abbreviated forms the tissue of the world in its three main states: The NO is just emptiness, sin lack of something undefined. If it is more concrete it becomes a NOT YET. The big question is therefore where the NOT YET gets his content from. This is actually the topic of The Principle of Hope. The function assigned to art is different in the philosophy of Adorno and in the philosophy of Bloch. For Adorno art is the non-identical, somenthing that escapes notion, see The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception. To put it short and simple: The function of art is not to explain or describe something, that is best done in plain words. The function of art is to EXPRESS something that can neither be explained nor described. Bloch focus more on the utopian surplus of art, although Principles of Hopes is more an encyclopedy of utopian surplus and art only one topic between a lot of others in this context.

(21) Those sharp basic concepts are real categories or areas because their precise ontolgy describe the objective character of the affects, the degree of intensity in the three main moments of the processing substance in a very precise way. The NO, not being able to stand alone describe the intensiv and interested origin (the IN ORDER TO that leads to realisation):Once again a side blow to Hegel. NO, NOT YET and NOTHING refers to processes in the matter not in the sphere o pure thinking. They are closely connected to affects, affects keep the world going, in other words human beings and their 'hunger'.

Formulated in a very abstract way we have in this paragraph the basic concept of the philosophy of Ernst Bloch. The Principle of Hope is an encyclopedy of all the utopian surplus that ever showed up in any area, without excluding that in future times there will be still more, given that any horizon only opens a broader one. That doesn't mean that achievement is guarenteed. That only means that it is possible. Sounds trivial, but it is not trivial. Most religion for instance assumes that paradise on earth is not possible, that humans don't have enough of utopian surplus, that they depend on God and the paradise is located somewhere in the hereafter.

In any kind of economic theory, in this aspect there is no difference between one theory and the other, there is no utopian surplus. The basic assumptions are always the same. Humans try to maximize their profits, if we consider the supply side, or their benefits, if we consider the demand side. The question for economics is therefore the economic order. The economic order has to be organised in a way that the maximazing of the individual profit maximizes as well the general welfare, see homo oeconomicus. The only 'utopian surplus' is the growth of the gross national product.

If we want a short introduction to The Principle of Hope, if we want to grasp the basic idea, we find it illustrated in the Faust by Goethe. (We find a detailed interpretation of the drama in The Principle of Hope.) The drama starts with a dialogue between God and Mephistopheles. They are discussiong about Faust, who God calls his servant. The reason given is crucial of the understanding of the drama.

Faust is his servant, because he is NOT SATISFIED and HAPPY and still less he believes in anything. (That's the opposite the God of one of the three monotheistic religions demands from their followers.) Faust has a lot of 'hunger'. To much to be happy and to much to be economically successful. He knows all what one known in his time, but he wants to know everything. He wants to feel everything what humanity has ever felt. He doesn't accept that he gets older. That in the hereafter there is a paradise and perhaps a compensation for the life in this vale of tears doesn't comfort him. He wants to have everyting, right now and here, although he does not even have a precise idea what he is actually missing. There is simply a 'lack' of something.

That's why God calls him his servant. It seems that God doesn't have a very clear idea either what can possibly be the fate of humanity and that he created mankind not to his own image and likeness, but to find out what this fate can possibly be and for this purpose lazy contentedness is not helpful. The task of humans is therefore to strive forward and not to comfort themselves with a paradise in the hereafter.

Mephistopheles proposes to God a bet. If he succeds to lead the Faust to a state where he is satisfied and stops looking for something else, he can take the soul away to hell. It is obvious that this has nothing to do with the God in the three monotheistic religions and still less it is a fight between the evil and the good. The question is not whether or not Faust can be induced to do something evil, the question is whether or not he will accept limits or to put it othewise, if he can be led to a state where he doesn't feel this limits any more.

God accepts the bed. If Mephistopheles succeds in making the Faust completely happy, even for a moment, he will have won the bet and can take the soul of Mephistopheles away.

(The 'hunger' of normal people is more directed toward more concrete things and more restricted. The philosophical question is whether or not this is like that 'by nature' or if it is the result of the social ensemble of relationships, see The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception.)

Faust is a very precise description of humans as assumed by Ernst Bloch.

Fürwahr! er dient Euch auf besondre Weise.
Nicht irdisch ist des Toren Trank noch Speise.
Ihn treibt die Gärung in die Ferne,
Er ist sich seiner Tollheit halb bewußt;
Vom Himmel fordert er die schönsten Sterne
Und von der Erde jede höchste Lust,
Und alle Näh und alle Ferne
Befriedigt nicht die tiefbewegte Brust.

He serves thee truly in a wondrous fashion.
Poor fool! His food and drink are not of earth.
An inward impulse hurries him afar,
Himself half conscious of his frenzied mood;
From heaven claimeth he the fairest star,
And from the earth craves every highest good,
And all that's near, and all that's far,
Fails to allay the tumult in his blood.

Mephistopheles is not the representative of the evil. He represents common sense and has a lot of natural wit. He has little understanding for the more sophisticated desires of the Faust. In short terms: He presents the principle reality. The problem of Faust is not only that he wants to reach the unreachable, the problem is, that his attitude is entirely negative. It is just the feeling of the lack of something, but he is not able to concretise this lack and still less to propose a constructive alternative. From a more philosophical point of view this kind of refutation can be considered productive. From a common sense point of view it is useless, although in some situations, where the horizon is narrowed, for any reason, blind refutation is the only way possible. In this case Mephistopheles advocates only for the status quo and that can be evil.

Religions, at least the three montheistic ones, has moved the ALL of Bloch to somewhere in the hereafter. For the life on earth they have clear ideas and humans should not question them in order to get recompensation in the hereafter.

Another typical example of something we find in society is Wagner. A person like Fausts studies because he is is looking for answers for problems he is concerned about or something that enriches reality, broadens his horizon. These kind of persons like and dislike. They are not neutral and don't deal with just anything. Their motivation is 'hunger'. Their motivation to study is intrinsic, not extrinsic. They have a preference for canonized culture. If the intrinsic motivation is missing, there must be an extrensic one.

The problem is complicated and has to do with the communicatibilty of art, see The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception. If art is the expression of the non identical , teaching art and culture is impossible, because something that escapes any 'logical', verbal approach, has to be taught in a logical, verbal way. To keep it short and simple: If an artefact doesn't have any impact on someone, it is impossible to explain him the 'meaning'. People like Wagner don't have a direct access to art and culture. The single artefact is for them as important as a telephon number in the telephon book.

Some people understand the comment of Faust concerning Wagner, others not.

Wie nur dem Kopf nicht alle Hoffnung schwindet,
Der immerfort an schalem Zeuge klebt,
Mit gier'ger Hand nach Schätzen gräbt,
Und froh ist, wenn er Regenwürmer findet!

How him alone all hope abandons never,
To empty trash who clings, with zeal untired,
With greed for treasure gropes, and, joy-inspir’d,
Exults if earth-worms second his endeavour.

Before Wagner and Faust had a discussion about the usefulness of their studies. For Wagner it is a great pleasure to red one book after the other and to accumulate more and more facts in his head. It satisfy him to learn what the philosophers of ancient time have thought and to understand history. He expects that this allows him to give more brilliance to his speeches and writings. Faust believes nothing of that. History doesn't tell the truth, but the opinion of the ruling classes. From the old philosophers he will only learn that they erred and concerning brilliance it is much better to tell in a simple and straightforward way what one thinks about an issue.

He is not aware, that instead of treasures, he finds only earth-worms. Wagner is often interpreted as a kind of Faust at the beginning of his career and that he will end up as disillusioned as Faust himself. This author would say that people who are satisfied with earth-worms will never be disillusioned, because from the very beginning they didn't expect more than earth-worms. This is the problem with the half-educated, see also The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception. Someone who is completely desinterested in canonized culture is at least honest. He admits that it is meaningless for him. He calls an earth-worms an earth-worms, it is an earth-worth worms for him. As teachers half-educated people are a problem. The utopian surplus of culture gets lost.

The criticism of the Faust regarding Wagner is 'intuitive'. Intuitevely he compares his 'hunger' with the 'hunger' of Wagner. Someone who doesn't understand the difference, can't understand the criticism and that is what actually happens in practice. The figure of Wagner is criticism of the canonized culture, that we find very often in the work of Goethe. 'What is rotten, should break' is another statement that goes in the same direction. Culture that doesn't satisfy a 'hunger' should disappear. However the Faust is taught in any college in german speaking countries, but no attention is paid to the figure of Wagner. Half-educated don't understand what this persons represents.

In practice this kind of 'intuitive' criticism is useless. It refers to a category the criticised don't understand. It's like explaining to a cow that the stars above her head are beautiful, although they can't be eaten as the grass in front of her eyes and someone who argues in favour of a purification and renovation of the canon, is considered as uncultivated and will be sorted out.

For the understanding of the Faust it is crucial to understand that there is a relationship between the bet between Mephistopheles and Faust and the bet between Mephistopheles and God, the next paragraph. In the second bet God allows Mephistopheles to try seducing Faust, in other words, to try to satisfy him completely at least for a moment. That means, that Mephistopheles can't act on it's own. He need, in contrary to what the monotheistic religions pray, the consent of God. In the next paragraph Mephistopheles makes the same bet, but in this case with Faust. All what Faust wants is to be happy, completelely happy, at least for a moment. God assumes and expects that this is never going to happen and that the reason why he considers Faust as his servant. He wants Faust to explore all existing possibilities, the known ones as well as the unknown ones and that the 'hunger' is never satisfied.

[If we consider Faust II as well, there is an interpretation of human history. At first Faust does, what humans have done at the beginning of history. They conquered foreign countries, killed innocent people, strove for power and wealth and so on. But at the end the only remaining utopian surplus was to construct a human world.]

Was wettet Ihr? den sollt Ihr noch verlieren!
Wenn Ihr mir die Erlaubnis gebt,
Ihn meine Straße sacht zu führen.

Solang er auf der Erde lebt,
So lange sei dir's nicht verboten,
Es irrt der Mensch so lang er strebt.

Da dank ich Euch; denn mit den Toten
Hab ich mich niemals gern befangen.
Am meisten lieb ich mir die vollen, frischen Wangen.
Für einem Leichnam bin ich nicht zu Haus;
Mir geht es wie der Katze mit der Maus.

Nun gut, es sei dir überlassen!
Zieh diesen Geist von seinem Urquell ab,
Und führ ihn, kannst du ihn erfassen,
Auf deinem Wege mit herab,
Und steh beschämt, wenn du bekennen mußt:
Ein guter Mensch, in seinem dunklen Drange,
Ist sich des rechten Weges wohl bewußt.

What wilt thou wager? Him thou yet shall lose,
If leave to me thou wilt but give,
Gently to lead him as I choose!

So long as he on earth doth live,
So long ’tis not forbidden thee.
Man still must err, while he doth strive.

I thank you; for not willingly
I traffic with the dead, and still aver
That youth’s plump blooming cheek I very much prefer.
I’m not at home to corpses; ’tis my way,
Like cats with captive mice to toy and play.

Enough! ’tis granted thee! Divert
This mortal spirit from his primal source;
Him, canst thou seize, thy power exert
And lead him on thy downward course,
Then stand abash’d, when thou perforce must own,
A good man in his darkest aberration,
Of the right path is conscious still.

This bet and the next one, see paragraph below, are similar, although the expression "primal source" is somehow obscure. There are two different way to understand this sentence, the first one very philosophical. Mephistopheles considers himself as a part of eternal darkness. God put some light in this darknes and whatever Mephistopheles does, he doesn't succeed in deleting it. This light is a symbol for the principle that is fighting against NOTHING. Eternal darkness would be the end, where nothing more would happen. The second way to understand the sentence can be deduced from the context. Mephistopheles tries first to satisfy Faust submerging him in sensual pleasures, sex, alcohol and magic. Something that doesn't work at all. However if it worked, there would as less unfolding of the human character as in animals.

In the bet between Mephistopheles and Faust the bet becomes more concrete. If only Mephistopheles can satisfy the 'hunger' of Faust, at least for a moment, he would have won the bet. But that doesn't happen.

Werd ich beruhigt je mich auf ein Faulbett legen,
So sei es gleich um mich getan!
Kannst du mich schmeichelnd je belügen,
Daß ich mir selbst gefallen mag,
Kannst du mich mit Genuß betrügen –
Das sei für mich der letzte Tag!
Die Wette biet ich!


Und Schlag auf Schlag!
Werd ich zum Augenblicke sagen:
Verweile doch! du bist so schön!
Dann magst du mich in Fesseln schlagen,
Dann will ich gern zugrunde gehn!
Dann mag die Totenglocke schallen,
Dann bist du deines Dienstes frei,
Die Uhr mag stehn, der Zeiger fallen,
Es sei die Zeit für mich vorbei!

If e’er upon my couch, stretched at my ease, I’m found,
Then may my life that instant cease!
Me canst thou cheat with glozing wile
Till self-reproach away I cast,—
Me with joy’s lure canst thou beguile;—
Let that day be for me the last!
Be this our wager!


Sure and fast!
When to the moment I shall say,
“Linger awhile! so fair thou art!”
Then mayst thou fetter me straightway,
Then to the abyss will I depart!
Then may the solemn death-bell sound,
Then from thy service thou art free,
The index then may cease its round.
And time be never more for me!

The description that Faust gives of himself is complex.

If e’er upon my couch, stretched at my ease, I’m found,
Then may my life that instant cease!
Me canst thou cheat with glozing wile
Till self-reproach away I cast,—
Me with joy’s lure canst thou beguile;—
Let that day be for me the last!
Be this our wager!

He is not seeking a position in society and not even to be liked by himelf (Me canst thou cheat with glozing wile / Till self-reproach away I cast) and pleasure are not his goal (Me with joy’s lure canst thou beguile). He consider satisfaction as laziness (If e’er upon my couch, stretched at my ease, I’m found). That is similar to the description of God of humans.

Ever too prone is man activity to shirk,
In unconditioned rest he fain would live;

That means that the 'hunger' of Bloch can vanish due to lazyness and resignation or, as in the case of Wagner, never be felt.

Bloch is, in contrary to what we can read everywhere, a complete refutation of marxism, at least of its philosophical assumptions. (Bloch didn't care about the economic assumptions, he didn't try to confirm thema nor to refute them. He simply disregarded them.)

The 'capital' moves nothing in the philosophy of Ernst Bloch. Hunger drives history in other words subjects. The marxist slogan "being determines consciousness" is only half true, because the process is dynamic. Circumstances determinate the subject, but the subject determines as well the circumstances. The utopian surplus of marxism is the "classelees society". This is at most an intermediate step, although not a really relevant one. There is no concrete utopia in the philosophy of Ernst Bloch, because behind any horizon will open a broader one. There are no historical laws, because humans can change the course of history at any moment.

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Exploring the not yet populated country future

Principle of Hope is an eencyclopedia of hope, in other words it gathers utopian surplus in art, social mouvements, philosophical systems, landscapes, architecture and wherever it can be found. In contrast to concrete descriptions of utopia, it does describe the forces that keeps the world moving, but not a concrete utopia.

Although the terms used are similar to the terms used by Hegel, the main affirmation is the exact opposite. In hegelian system everything that can exist is already there at the beginning. In the system of Bloch what can be is the result of a dynamic process between the subject and the object, in other words, can be known only at the end. Furthermore the driving force in history is the 'spirit of the world', in the philosophy of Bloch 'hunger' in the broadest meaning of the word. That means, that Bloch focuses on the subject, because only subjects have hunger. Hegel and Marx are versions of historicism, in other way it is assumed that there are stable rules that allows to predict the historical process. That is refuted by Bloch. The historical process can end with NOTHING, complete failure, or ALL complete achievement. Defined is only NOTHING, the complete failure, ALL is undefined, although they are forces driving to this ALL.

We find an endless number of interpretations taken from different fields of culture. Among these an interpetration of Goethe's Faust, which perhaps is the best summary of the basic concepts of The principle of Hope.

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