The Hope Book
I woke up today not knowing what to write. That’s not good, since I face a self-imposed deadline. Every week I need a new essay.
At the end of September 2015 I posted the last chapter of Castles to this blog. I still haven’t risen to the task of editing Castles for publication. Maybe next summer.
Since October 2015 I’ve continued to write something every week for “Story and Meaning.” It’s been a mixture: humor (“Driverless Cars”), economics (“Work,” a series of four essays), thoughts about personal identity (“Discrete Events and Narrative Lives,” again in four parts), ten “Last Walk” essays, and more than 25 essays on aspects of hope.
It may be time to start putting order into the hope project. I say, “maybe,” because my philosophy projects usually develop slowly. It took seven years to write The Virtue of Civility in the Practice of Politics and at least as long to finish Why Faith is a Virtue. I started working on hope in 2014. It might be that I need a good deal more thinking before I write the hope book.
Further, life overtakes philosophy, as I said in the first “Last Walk” essay. It would be disingenuous for me to write a philosophy book about hope and not address personal issues arising from Karen’s cancer and death. Karen and I are both Christians; what does Christian hope look like from the inside?
Despite these cautions, next week I will begin posting bits of my new project: The Hope Book. If you’ve been reading “Story and Meaning,” some of it will seem familiar, as I’ll be rearranging material from earlier entries.
Fortunately, I’ve already written a lot in addition to the hope essays I’ve posted to “Story and Meaning.” I can draw on papers I’ve read at philosophy conferences and a long unpublished essay called “A Hope Primer.” I won’t have to write something completely new each week.
Writing The Hope Book in this way will be an experiment, an attempt to write analytic philosophy in bit and pieces. It could fail miserably. In that case I will go back to a tested procedure: write one or two conference papers every year, and then collect/condense them into a book once the project is mature.
As background for The Hope Book, here are the authors who have most influenced my thinking about hope (so far):
Mark Bernier, The Task of Hope in Kierkegaard
Michael Bishop, The Good Life
Simon Critchley, “Abandon (Nearly) All Hope.” New York Times, April 20, 2014
Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Stephen King, The Shawshank Redemption, novella and movie (1994). Jonathan Lear, Radical Hope
Adrienne Martin, How We Hope
Jurgen Moltmann, Ethics of Hope
Charles Pinches, “On Hope,” in Virtues and Their Vices
Louis Pojman, “Faith, Hope, and Doubt,” in Philosophy of Religion
C.R. Snyder (ed), Handbook of Hope
N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope
Additionally, three authors provide the background for almost all my work in ethical theory:
Robert Adams, A Theory of Virtue
Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue
Iris Murdoch, The Sovereignty of Good