W. Watts Miller

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Emotion

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

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology



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.  7025 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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