Becoming who we are: Democracy and the political problem of hope

Critical Horizons 9 (1):77-89 (2008)
In this article I argue that hope is rightly numbered by Hesiod among the evils, as hope cannot be separated from an awareness of the inadequacy of one's current state. Political hope for democrats in particular is tied to the awareness that we have not yet realized ourselves, that, to paraphrase Pindar, we have not yet become who we are. I argue that, although Rorty comes close to articulating this in his book Achieving Our Country, his emphasis on pride ultimately obscures more than it reveals. I conclude that Thoreau's anguished reflection in Walden on the failures of his fellow citizens is a better place to look for instruction on the question of political hope.
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