The Principle of Hope is one of the great works of the human spirit. It is a critical history of the utopian vision and a profound exploration of the possible reality of utopia. Even as the world has rejected the doctrine on which Bloch sought to base his utopia, his work still challenges us to think more insightfully about our own visions of a better world.
The Principle of Hope is published in three volumes: Volume 1 lays the foundations of the philosophy of process and introduces the idea of the Not-Yet-Conscious - the anticipatory element that Bloch sees as central to human thought. It also contains a remarkable account of the aesthetic interpretations of utopian "wishful images" in fairy tales, popular fiction, travel, theater, dance, and the cinema.
Volume 2 presents "the outlines of a better world." It examines the utopian systems that progressive thinkers have developed in the fields of medicine, painting, opera, poetry, and ultimately, philosophy. It is nothing less than an encyclopedic account of utopian thought from the Greeks to the present.
Volume 3 offers a prescription for ways in which humans can reach their proper "homeland," where social justice is coupled with an openness to change and to the future.
"The Principle of Hope is one of those all-about-everything bookscharacteristic of German culture during the last 150 years. But unlike itsdirect predecessor, Oswald Spengler's The Decline of the West, Bloch'smagnum opus. . . reverses Spengler's world-historical scheme by turningWeltangst . . . into `hope.' In this placing of `hope' at the center ofa history, an anthropology, and a phenomenology of mankind lies the originalityof Bloch's undertaking."
—J. P. Stern, The New Republic
"Ernst Bloch's Principle of Hope is one of the key books of ourcentury. Part philosophic speculation, part political treatise, part lyricvision, it is exercising a deepening influence on thought and on literature. .. . No political or theological appropriations of Bloch's leviathan can exhaustits visionary breadth."