Hope and Necessity
Keywords: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.
Aristotle. 2009. Nicomachean Ethics. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.
Bloeser, Claudia, and Titus Stahl. 2017. “Hope”. Last modified March 8, 2017. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/hope/.
Brontë, Emily. 1995. “No Coward Soul is Mine”. In The Complete Poems of Emily Jane Brontë, edited by C. W. Hatfield, 243–44. New York, NY: Columbia Univ. Press.
Chignell, Andrew. 2013. “Rational Hope, Moral Order and the Revolution of the Will”. In The Divine Order, the Human Order, and the Order of Nature, edited by Eric Watkins, 197–218. New York, NY: Oxford Univ. Press.
Descartes, Rene. 1997. “Meditations on First Philosophy”. In Key Philosophical Writings, edited by Enrique Chăvez-Arvizo, 123–90. Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Classics.
Eagleton, Terry. 2015. Hope without Optimism. New Haven and London: Yale Univ. Press.
Egan, Andy, and Brian Weatherson, eds. 2011. Epistemic Modality. New York, NY: Oxford Univ. Press.
Godfrey, Joseph J. 1987. A Philosophy of Human Hope. Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.
Godzieba, Anthony J. 2008. “The Catholic Sacramental Imagination and the Access/Excess of Grace”. New Theology Review 21, no. 3: 14–26.
Horner, Robyn. 2010. “On Hope: Critical Re-readings”. Australian eJournal of Theology 15, no. 1. http://aejt.com.au/2010/issue_15.
Lear, Jonathan. 2006. Radical Hope: Ethics in the face of cultural devastation. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.
Levinas, Emmanuel. 1996. Basic Philosophical Writings. Indianapolis, IN: Indiana Univ. Press.
—. 1998. Totality and Infinity. Pittsburgh, PA: Duquesne Univ. Press.
Marion, Jean-Luc. 2001. The Idol and Distance: Five Studies. New York, NY: Fordham Univ. Press.
—. 2002. In Excess: Studies of Saturated Phenomena. New York, NY: Fordham Univ. Press.
Moltmann, Jürgen. 1967. Theology of Hope. London: SCM.
Nozick, Robert. 1981. Philosophical Explanations. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Pawlett Jackson, Sarah. 2013. “Darwall and Williams: Moral Reasoning, Priority and the Second-Person Standpoint”. In The Moral Philosophy of Bernard Williams, edited by Chris Herrera and Alexandra Perry, 130–50. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Sellers, Wilfred. 1963. Science, Perception and Reality. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Solnit, Rebecca. 2016. Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities. Chicago, IL: Haymarket.
Williams, Bernard. 1993. Shame and Necessity. London: Univ. of California Press.
Williams, Row. 2005. Grace and Necessity: Reflections on Art and Love. Cornwall: Continuum.
Wright, N. T. 2008. Surprised by Hope. New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers.