W. Watts Miller

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Emotion

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780195170214
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199892150 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology


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Writing during the occupation of France in the 1940s, the French Catholic philosopher Gabriel Marcel sees the core authentic form of hope as “I hope in thee for us.” A strength of Marcel's account is that it drives home the importance of hope-in and hope-for, against preoccupation with hope-that. The trouble is that he then marginalizes hope-that, in a worry over its vulnerability to defeat and in a quest for an absolute hope. Marcel in fact emphasizes and interlinks two quite general hopes-that—rock-bottom hope that all is not lost, and transcendent hope of salvation. He also sees imprisonment—by illness, in a land under occupation, in an actual jail—as a paradigmatic case of hope's struggle against despair. Accordingly, there are important similarities with Emile Durkheim's classic account of the two main modern routes to suicide. One is the egoism of a cold intellectual atomistic world of the self, cut off from the warmth of social feelings. The other is the anomie of a raging bonfire of desires, impossible to dampen down and bring under conscious control.

Keywords: Gabriel Marcel; hope; despair; Emile Durkheim; suicide; egoism; self; desires; salvation; imprisonment

Article.  6960 words. 

Subjects: Sociology of Religion

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