Wishing and Hoping

Philosophy in the Contemporary World 6 (2):25-28 (1999)
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Abstract

In this essay I think about the ways in which orientation towards the future plays a central role in constituting meaningful lives. Much intellectual work on the nature of persons takes our existence as something given and static, and much of it treats persons as either isolated individuals, or as completely subsumed within a social identity. However, we are both, and neither; we are always individuals, and we are always social creatures, and yet we are never fully either of these. Understanding who and what we are in each of these ways reveals something important, but each understanding also reduces us and limits our self-comprehension in dangerous ways. In response I suggest that we refashion the notion of "hope " as an act of subjective faith and self-creation, and as anorientation only possible within free and loving human communities. Perhaps this is willfully naive, but without hope it seems we will drift, or be driven, and our lives will fail to be ours.

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James Craig Hanks
Texas State University

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