Open Hope as a Civic Virtue: Ernst Bloch and Lord Buddha

Social Philosophy Today 29:89-100 (2013)
Authors
Judith Andre
Michigan State University
Abstract
Hope as a virtue is an acquired disposition, shaped by reflection; as a civic virtue it must serve the good of the community. Ernst Bloch and Lord Buddha offer help in constructing such a virtue. Using a taxonomy developed by Darren Webb I distinguish open hope from goal-oriented hope, and use each thinker to develop the former. Bloch and Buddha are very different. But they share a metaphysics of change, foundational for making any sense of hope.Buddhism would seem to repudiate hope; it is a source of suffering. Seen more deeply, however, Buddhism offers material for a carefully limited virtue of hope: the habits of noticing good and acknowledging transience. This disposition, acquired through Buddhist practice among other ways, shields one against despair. The habit also frees up energy that would otherwise be wasted. Ernst Bloch gives us insight into how to use that energy, teaching us to value the yearning implicit throughout culture. Open hope becomes a civic virtue when it concerns civic matters; it can be threatened by hyperbolic discourse in political life.
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DOI socphiltoday20132919
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