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Ernst Bloch’s Speculative Materialism

Ontology, Epistemology, Politics

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Cat Moir

In Ernst Bloch’s Speculative Materialism: Ontology, Epistemology, Politics, Cat Moir offers a new interpretation of the philosophy of Ernst Bloch. The reception of Bloch’s work has seen him variously painted as a naïve realist, a romantic nature philosopher, a totalitarian thinker, and an irrationalist whose obscure literary style stands in for a lack of systematic rigour. Moir challenges these conceptions of Bloch by reconstructing the ontological, epistemological, and political dimensions of his speculative materialism. Through a close, historically contextualised reading of Bloch’s major work of ontology, Das Materialismusproblem, seine Geschichte und Substanz (The Materialism Problem, its History and Substance), Moir presents Bloch as one of the twentieth century’s most significant critical thinkers.

The Jewish Question

History of a Marxist Debate

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Enzo Traverso

In The Jewish Question: History of a Marxist Debate, Enzo Traverso explores the causes and the forms of the encounter that took place, from the middle of the nineteenth century to the Holocaust, between the intelligentsia of a cosmopolitan minority and the most radical ideological current of Western modernity. From Karl Marx to the Frankfurt School, the 'Jewish Question' — to a set of problems related to emancipation and anti-Semitism, cultural assimilation and Zionism — raised significant controversies within Marxist theory. Enzo Traverso carefully reconstructs this intellectual debate that runs over more than a century, pointing out both its achievements and its blind alleys.

This is the second edition, completely rewritten and updated, of a book already translated into many languages (originally published in French, then translated into English, German, Spanish, Japanese, and Turkish).

A Jewish Communist in Weimar Germany

The Life of Werner Scholem (1895 – 1940)

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Ralf Hoffrogge

Walter Benjamin derided Werner Scholem as a ‘rogue’ in 1924. Josef Stalin referred him as a ‘splendid man’, but soon backtracked and labeled him an ‘imbecile’, while Ernst Thälmann, chairman of the Communist Party of Germany (KPD), warned his followers against the dangers of ‘Scholemism’. For the philosopher and historian Gershom Scholem, however, Werner was first and foremost his older brother. The life of German-Jewish Communist Werner Scholem (1895–1940) had many facets. Werner and Gerhard, later Gershom, rebelled together against their authoritarian father and the atmosphere of national chauvinism engulfing Germany during World War I. After inspiring his younger brother to take up the Zionist cause, Werner himself underwent a long personal journey before deciding to join the Communist struggle. Scholem climbed the party ladder and orchestrated the KPD's ‘Bolshevisation’ campaign, only to be expelled as one of Stalin's opponents in 1926. He was arrested in 1933, and ultimately murdered in the Buchenwald concentration camp seven years later. This first biography of Werner Scholem tells his life story by drawing on a wide range of original sources and archive material long hidden beyond the Iron Curtain of the Cold War era.

First published in German by UVK Verlagsgesellschaft as Werner Scholem - eine politische Biographie (1895-1940), Konstanz, 2014.

The Ethics and Religious Philosophy of Etty Hillesum

Proceedings of the Etty Hillesum Conference at Ghent University, January 2014

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Edited by Klaas A.D. Smelik, Meins G.S. Coetsier and Jurjen Wiersma

The Ethics and Religious Philosophy of Etty Hillesum contains the proceedings of the second international Etty Hillesum Congress at Ghent University in January 2014 and is a joint effort by fifteen Hillesum experts to shed new light on the life, works and vision of the Dutch Jewish writer Etty Hillesum (1914-1943), one of the victims of the Nazi-regime. Hillesum’s diaries and letters illustrate her heroic struggle to come to terms with her personal life in the context of the Holocaust. This volume revives Hillesum research with a comprehensive rereading of her texts. With the current rise of interest in peace studies, Judaism, the Holocaust, inter-religious dialogue, gender studies and mysticism, it is evident that this book will be invaluable to students and scholars in various disciplines.

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Martin Wein

In History of the Jews in the Bohemian Lands, Martin Wein traces the interaction of Czechs and Jews, but also of Christian German-speakers, Slovaks, and other groups in the Bohemian lands and in Czechoslovakia throughout the first half of the twentieth century. This period saw accelerated nation-building and nation-cleansing in the context of hegemony exercised by a changing cast of great powers, namely Austria-Hungary, France, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Union. The author examines Christian-Jewish and inner-Jewish relations in various periods and provinces, including in Subcarpathian Ruthenia, emphasizing interreligious alliances of Jews with Protestants, such as T. G. Masaryk, and political parties, for example a number of Social Democratic ones. The writings of Prague’s Czech-German-Jewish founders of theories of nationalism, Hans Kohn, Karl W. Deutsch, and Ernest Gellner, help to interpret this history.

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Edited by Wim Hofstee and A. van der Kooij

The volume Religion beyond its Private Role in Modern Society aims at contributing to the debate on the distinction between public and private spheres with regard to the role of religion in modern societies. This issue which is inherent to many conceptions regarding social order, modernity, freedom of conscience, and the changing role and function of religion is discussed not only from a social scientific but also from a historical and philosophical point of view. The articles dwell on several aspects of the role of religion in different societies in modern times, and the overall theme is explored from the perspective of various religious traditions and groups, both institutional and non-institutional. It turns out that the distinction made is difficult to maintain.

Walter Benjamin

Presence of Mind, Failure to Comprehend

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Stéphane Symons

In Walter Benjamin. Presence of Mind, Failure to Comprehend Stéphane Symons offers an innovative reading of the work of German philosopher, essayist and literary critic Walter Benjamin (1892-1940). Oftentimes interpreted as being either of a theological (Jewish-Messianic) or a materialist (neo-Marxist) nature, Benjamin’s writings are here characterized as "neither a-theological, nor immediately theological."

Starting from Benjamin’s philosophy of history, his interpretation of the work of Franz Kafka, his study on the German Baroque and his critique of modernity, Walter Benjamin. Presence of Mind, Failure to Comprehend zooms in on the issue of how a belief in the possibility of redemption and an attentiveness [ Aufmerksamkeit] to expressions of an absolute force can endure within a universe that is nevertheless confronted as unfulfilled.