Friday, February 15, 2008

Phenomenological Descriptions of Hope

I should qualify that this post isn't a sustained philosophical piece of writing, but an exploratory inquiry into the phenomena of hope. In my lived experience of the political, I keep seeing hope tied to contexts as I stress over the Democratic nomination for the US Presidency. As usual, there is usually a lovely inspiration from my wife's beautiful mind pervading my philosophical attention.

I was seated next to my wife on campus. I was reading an article of Clinton criticizing the ambiguity of Obama's speeches. It was noteworthy since the speech happened somewhere in Youngstown, OH (the exact area around Ohio where we are from originally). Clinton's message was simple: Hope doesn't put food on the dinner table, nor pay your stack of bills. My wife snickered and said something to the effect that hope is a more powerful message. She said that hope would make people do something for themselves rather than awaiting the government to do something one should do for oneself. I thought to myself there may be something to her intuition about hope that is phenomenologically descriptive. So, the question concerning me here what would a phenomenological description of hope look like?

Hope phenomenologically reveals itself as a hope of one's own--that is, there's something about hope that makes someone pursue it. Political hopes are practical in this regard. Moreover, it's tied to someone's authenticity, even when people are mostly in the mode of inauthentic herd mentality. Someone has decided to have a resolute determination for themselves, and at this point, the object of hope molds its believer. Like a traveler hitchhiking, hope stands off at the distant horizon as a pristine example of the socio-political world as a "could-be." Our actions become absorbed in the experience of the political as a "could-be." We pursue what is most likely resembling the could-be.

Promisemaking is a will-be. The politician promises the world will resemble their own vision as it is promised as. If you vote for me, the promisemaking act guarantees the state of affairs will be thus, yet, promisemaking is deficient with respect to the contingency of human action. Hope is couched in terms of generality where a theme is just a could-be, and to be truly hopeful, one has to hope that contingency of action works in the favor of what might not come to pass. As such, could-be is a more honest and prudent approach since it acknowledges the vision of the future as better, but doesn't specific too much on the content as will-be promises. Hence, will-be is a passing attempt of someone to tell you how they will rule. Promises qua will-be is a telling what "others want to hear" whereas hope invites others into its being since so many can hope that the world "could be" this way.

If you would like to respond to this post, then I have two questions plaguing my mind:

Do you think there is another phenomenological description of hope that better suits the how hope appears in our lived experience or not?

What type of social ontology is supported by hope?

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