Walter Benjamin, influenced both by Marx’s analysis of materialist inequities of society and by his friend Gershom Scholem's spiritual quest, attempted to combine the two approaches in his suggestive and poetic writings, and critically explored the concepts of historical inevitability, progress and messianism.
In a posthumously published work, Theses on the Philosophy of History, Benjamin undermines the conventional reading of history by juxtaposing the Messianic idea of the Abrahamic religions with modernity, and by doing so structures the present as a time of "end of times":
"...every second of time was the strait gate through which the Messiah might enter.”
Some questions to consider:
* How does Benjamin’s critical analysis of the idea of progress relate to the American dream of the future?
* Can we reconcile our idea of progress with the theological notion of the coming of the Messiah at the end of time?
The Thesis on the Philosophy of History is available for download in the Files section.