THE SOCIALIST DECISION by Paul Tillich

THE SOCIALIST DECISION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

This book was originally published in Germany in early 1933, just as Hitler came to power. It was quickly suppressed, and its author purged from his university post. Shortly thereafter, Paul Tillich emigrated to the United States. Evoking as it does the intellectual and political concerns of left-wing German intellectuals of the period, this book will likely surprise those who know Tillich's later theological works. Writing with a sense of urgency that pervades the often abstract philosophical argument, Tillich analyzes the roots of ""political romanticism"" (i.e. Nazism) in the ""myth of origin"" related to soil, blood, or community. Opposed to this mythic consciousness stands the ""bourgeois principle,"" which is grounded in reason cut off from origin. According to Tillich, both of these forms of consciousness establish false divisions between being and consciousness. The first form is contradictory because it seeks to reject consciousness in favor of being, while the latter expresses its contradictory nature in precisely the opposite manner. Tillich finds the transcendence of both of these in the ""socialist principle,"" which combines origin and reason in what he calls ""expectation,"" which is goal-oriented and based in lived experience. The tragedy of socialism in Germany, as Tillich sees it, is that it failed to respond to the real needs which underlay Nazism, and to free itself from the bourgeois principle. In his discussion of the three forms of consciousness, and in his comparison of socialism with the prophetic tradition in Jewish mysticism, Tillich's arguments show a striking affinity to the work associated with the so-called Frankfurt School of critical theory (Max Horkheimer, T. W. Adorno et al.), and is best situated in relation to their work of the same period. An exciting rediscovery.

Pub Date: April 26th, 1977
Publisher: Harper & Row