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Introduction - For and Against Hope

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 January 2022

Adam Potkay
Affiliation:
College of William and Mary, Virginia
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Summary

Is hope a virtue? Not necessarily. We hope for many things, some of them good, some bad. What we do or don’t do about our hopes may also reflect on us, for better or for worse. Is hope pleasurable or comforting? Again, not necessarily. Hope may involve anxiety and pain. What about hopes in as well as for others? As good and generous as such hopes may sound, even they are not necessarily virtuous. If hope appears an unqualified good to you, independent of any specific context, it is likely for one of two reasons: first, you belong to or have been influenced by one of the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), in which faith-based hope counts as a virtue; second, you are a political liberal. Starting with supporters of the French Revolution, hope has served as shorthand for progressive politics. I start my literary history with the classical counterpoint, in which hope is at best problematic, something in need of regulation and restraint if not extirpation. I then turn to Judeo-Christianity, and European and American Romanticism, and offer a preliminary sketch of the reasons why hope features as a good thing in these over-lapping but distinct contexts.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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  • For and Against Hope
  • Adam Potkay, College of William and Mary, Virginia
  • Book: Hope: A Literary History
  • Online publication: 27 January 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009075886.002
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  • For and Against Hope
  • Adam Potkay, College of William and Mary, Virginia
  • Book: Hope: A Literary History
  • Online publication: 27 January 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009075886.002
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • For and Against Hope
  • Adam Potkay, College of William and Mary, Virginia
  • Book: Hope: A Literary History
  • Online publication: 27 January 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009075886.002
Available formats
×