Hope and Necessity


  • Sarah Pawlett-Jackson The Open University The Univeristy of London




Hope, Fundamental Hope, Rowan Williams, Rebecca Solnit, Emmanuel Levinas,


In this paper I offer a comparative evaluation of two types of “fundamental hope”, drawn from the writing of Rebecca Solnit and Rowan Williams respectively. Arguments can be found in both, I argue, for the foundations of a dispositional existential hope. Examining and comparing the differences between these accounts, I focus on the consequences implied for hope’s freedom and stability. I focus specifically on how these two accounts differ in their claims about the relationship between hope and (two types of) necessity. I argue that both Solnit and Williams base their claims for warranted fundamental hope on a sense of how reality is structured, taking this structure to provide grounds for a basic existential orientation that absolute despair is never the final word. For Solnit this structure is one of unpredictability; for Williams it is one of excess. While this investigation finds both accounts of fundamental hope to be plausible and insightful, I argue that Williams’s account is ultimately more satisfying on the grounds that it offers a realistic way of thinking about a hope necessitated by what it is responsive to, and more substantial in responding to what is necessary.

Author Biography

Sarah Pawlett-Jackson, The Open University The Univeristy of London

Sarah Pawlett-Jackson is a doctoral researcher in the Philosophy Department at the The Open University. She is a Tutor at St Mellitus College, London and Tutor for the International Programme of the University of London.


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How to Cite

Pawlett-Jackson, Sarah. 2019. “Hope and Necessity”. European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 11 (3):49-73. https://doi.org/10.24204/ejpr.v11i3.2881.



Special Issue - Philosophy, Religion and Hope