Finding Humanity in the Search for Nature: Adorno, Bloch, and Merleau-Ponty
The Graduate School, Stony Brook University: Stony Brook, NY.
There is an air that hovers over the twenty-first century, an air that foretells of an imminent ecological catastrophe. Defensive practices such as recycling, and the promotion of the responsible usage of natural resources, help to slow the destruction of the earth, but they do not solve its impending destruction. They do not point out of the problem, towards a world freed from ecological problems. This thesis attempts to point outwards, towards a different relationship between nature and humanity that hopes to answer the ontological question, "how do we solve the problem of ecological problems?" With Karl Marx we find that this question can be answered by the humanity that overturns capitalism. Therefore, in Marx's early writings we find a depiction of communism, of a society that has overcome the domination and alienation complicit with the capitalist economic system. Here, nature is affirmed concomitantly with humanity. No longer alienated from the nature from which it came, humanity extends itself to nature unobstructedly. From this intimate relation to nature, humanity is in a privileged position to save the nature that is necessary to save itself. The remainder of this thesis will engage the critical theories of Theodor Adorno and Ernst Bloch, and the phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty, in order to develop a notion of how we move towards the actualization of this dream of Marx: the co-affirmation of nature and humanity. In this thesis I hope to show that neither critical theory nor phenomenology is revolutionary on its own but that these two traditions must be brought together in order to engage historical materialism with the embodied subjectivities that will serve as revolutionary subjects