The Centre for Ernst Bloch Studies at The University of Sheffield is hosting:
Friday, 03 – Saturday, 04 July 2009
This is the first workshop in a series to be organised by the Centre for Ernst Bloch Studies at the University of Sheffield, the purpose of which will be to analyse aspects of modernity in the 21st century. The conference will be held at the Humanities Research Institute, 34 Gell Street, Sheffield S3 7QY.
Since its inception, capitalist modernity has been accompanied by the suspicion that it is unable to satisfy the apparently deep human need for a sense of community and common purpose. Today, after the demise of the Eastern bloc and its social utopia, religious belief and action have re-appeared, promising to fulfil this need. The most visible manifestation of this is the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. Even its rationalist opposite, however, which a century after Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud again seeks to unmask “the God delusion”, is testimony to the renewed vigour of the religious world-view. But what exactly is the relationship between religion and social utopianism? Is religion a substitute for social harmony, or a Vorschein (Bloch) of a better world, or something else still? Can it somehow ground or anchor modernity, or is a genuinely modern religion doomed forever to remain within the domain of individual subjectivity? And what is the role of Islamic fundamentalism in all this? Is a social order based on religion of necessity totalitarian? What, finally, are the philosophical problems that are at stake here? Does the return of religion require us to rethink “Western” notions of rationality and progress?
The workshop brings together sociologists, psychologists, political scientists, theologians, and philosophers to address these issues from an interdisciplinary perspective.
The conference is organised by Henk de Berg, Professor of German, and Peter Thompson, Director of the Centre for Ernst Bloch Studies.
Peter Thompson introduces Atheism in Christianity by Ernst Bloch. Bloch is one of the most important German Marxist thinkers of the twentieth century and one of the great theorists of utopia. Atheism in Christianity is published on 6 July.