Existential Utopia: New Perspectives on Utopian Thought

Existential Utopia: New Perspectives on Utopian Thought

Michael Marder, Patricia Vieira

Language: English

Pages: 192

ISBN: 1441169210

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Radical political thought of the 20th century was dominated by utopia, but the failure of communism in Eastern Europe and its disavowal in China has brought on the need for a new model of utopian thought. This book thus seeks to redefine the concept of utopia and bring it to bear on today's politics.

The original essays, contributed by key thinkers such as Gianni Vattimo and Jean-Luc Nancy, highlight the connection between utopian theory and practice. The book reassesses the legacy of utopia and conceptualizes alternatives to the neo-liberal, technocratic regimes prevalent in today's world. It argues that only utopia in its existential sense, grounded in the lived time and space of politics, can distance itself from mainstream ideology and not be at the service of technocratic regimes, while paying attention to the material conditions of human life.
Existential Utopia offers a new and exciting interpretation of utopia in contemporary culture and a much-needed intervention into the philosophical and political discussion of utopian thinking that is both accessible to students and comprehensive.

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precisely, the subjects thus politicized come to understand that the “dis-adjustments,” similar to the ruptures described by Heidegger, are not sheer accidental occurrences in an otherwise smoothly functioning totality, but are constitutive of the political and economic organization, dependent upon these very injustices. The ensuing disappointment, deemed by Simon Critchley to be the common beginning of philosophy and politics (2), is born from this massive loss of confidence in the world that

dreams. In his magnum opus, Bloch carries though both a thorough examination of the ways in which hope and visions of a better world exist in everything from daydreams to the great religions, and of cultural studies that trace throughout history anticipatory visions of what would later be systematized, packaged, and distributed as socialism by Karl Marx and his followers. Consequently, Bloch provides a critical hermeneutic of the ways in which cultural history and socioeconomic developments point

the times of a present continuous. In order to master the present it is necessary to restore the balance: to create reality. In fact, during the crisis of modernity, in the shape of what we call postmodernity, there is a double inversion of roles. To be sure, the external world is increasingly transformed into pure fiction— a political fantasy, a fantasy of communication, a techno-scientific fantasy— and, when faced with this monumental artifice that surrounds us, we progressively rediscover the

and organically linked to actual social practices. There is a consensus among the contributors that in stark contrast to the rationally fixed and transcendent utopias associated with escapism and/or domination, the largely anti-perfectionist and antiauthoritarian utopias they examine do not represent a form of abstraction from the world. On the contrary, such utopias are focused, first and foremost, on transforming the present as part of an organic process in which already existing historical

more or less hegemonic for the last two centuries. Moreover, we seem to be approaching an ecological turning point in human history that will impact upon life on earth much more radically than any previous turning point. One would expect, then, to see an outpouring of highly original and imaginative utopias. The need may be there, but from where I stand, utopian thinking seems to be blocked by an excessive emphasis on “pessimism of the intellect.”5 Perhaps the reason lies in the unparalleled

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