In contrast to individual human beings we cannot present a >Questionnaire to the entire human species with the request to fill it out with the relevant information. But nothing of the sort is required. The species has, in fact, constantly and continuously provided such information about itself, even if this has only been in indirect form:
Religions are manifestations of a claim to happiness that has remained unsatisfied here on earth. They are an expression of a profound dissatisfaction with earthly existence. Eternal life, Paradise – or the soul’s next reincarnation, which is assumed to be better – are supposed to compensate for the suffering experienced in our lives here on earth. No one, perhaps, has ever expressed this better than Marx:
“The misery of religion is at one and the same time the expression of real misery and the protest against this latter. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the mind of mindless circumstances. It is the opium of the people.
The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is at the same time the demand for the people’s true happiness. The demand that the people give up their illusions about their condition is at the same time the demand that that condition be given up which requires illusions in the first place. The critique of religion, then, is, in incipient form, the critique of that vale of tears the ‘halo’ around which religion itself is.” (Marx, Zur Kritik der Hegelschen Rechtsphilosophie. Introduction, MEW Vol. 1, p. 378f)
Philosophy is the brain of religion and steps, after the dissolution of the notion of religion as something “self-evident”, into this latter’s place, so as to go on immunizing our earthly “vale of tears” against that radical critique which pleads the cause of an abolition of the human race itself.
Much like religions, utopias are long-term self-evaluations on the part of the species which have come to be expressed in verbal form. Ernst Bloch (1885–1977) recognized in utopias those unfulfilled promises to humanity which need to be preserved with a view to their realization in the future. At the same time, however, mankind’s utopias speak of that falling-short in terms of due happiness which has accumulated throughout mankind’s whole past. That is to say: utopias do not just point, with positive significance, forward but always also, with negative significance, backward. That leap into the future inherent in the utopian idea passes judgment on both past and present, submerging them in a light that reveals their insufficiency. That utopian panopticum that is assembled by Bloch in his Principle of Hope resembles a gigantic mirror, the reflected light of which illuminates the shortcomings and the privations of the species both in past and present.