Ernst Bloch Biography


The extraordinary quality of the German Marxist philosopher Ernst Bloch (blawk) is his unrelenting quest to fuse theory and practice. He refused to make a sharp distinction between philosophy and the arts, and he saw his writings as political acts pointing toward a society without oppression.

Ernst Bloch, the son of Max and Berta Bloch, was born into a proletarian community in Ludwigshafen. In 1905, Bloch took up the study of philosophy and German literature at the University of Munich; he then attended the University of Würzburg, where he studied music, physics, and experimental psychology. In Berlin, he became interested in sociology and was befriended by Georg Simmel, whose interests ranged from philosophy, sociology, and metaphysics to poetry. Even more important for his intellectual development was his friendship with the critic and philosopher Georg Lukács. Through Lukács, Bloch was introduced to the sociologist Max Weber. In Zurich, he met Walter Benjamin. Under the influence of these leading figures of intellectual life in Germany at that time, Bloch produced Spirit of Utopia.

During the 1920’s, Bloch turned toward Marxism, and his second major work, Thomas Münzer als Theologe der Revolution (Thomas Münzer as theologian of revolution), combined Marxist thought with religious mysticism. When the Nazi Party took power in 1933, Bloch, who was immediately blacklisted, left Germany to seek exile in Switzerland....

(The entire section is 597 words.)


Daniel, Jamie Owen, and Tom Moylan, eds. Not Yet: Reconsidering Ernst Bloch. New York: Verso Books, 1997. This volume of essays that engage with Bloch’s thought across a wide range of contemporary contexts.

Geoghegan, Vincent. Ernst Bloch. New York: Routledge, 1996. A critical and accessible introduction to the man and his ideas.

Hudson, Wayne. The Marxist Philosophy of Ernst Bloch. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1982. A comprehensive study of Bloch’s philosophy in English.

Jones, John Miller. Assembling (Post)modernism: The Utopian Philosophy of Ernst Bloch. New York: Peter Lang, 1995. Relates Bloch’s work to the postmodern theory of Jean-François Lyotard, Jacques Derrida, and Michel Foucault and explores its roots in modernism. Provides a comprehensive view of Bloch’s life and work.

West, Thomas H. Ultimate Hope Without God: The Atheistic Eschatology of Ernst Bloch. New York: Peter Lang, 1991. A revision of the author’s thesis. Includes bibliographical references and an index.

Wren, Thomas E. “An Ernst Bloch Bibliography for English Readers.” Philosophy Today 14 (Winter, 1970). A useful bibliographical tool, ending in 1970.