Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Quote of the Day

A quote from Gabriel Marcel which I came across in Richard Kearney's Strangers, Gods and Monsters unreferenced and just had to track down:

Its from Homo Viator: Introduction to a Metaphysic of Hope:

"All then prepares us to recognize that despair is in a certain sense the consciousness of time as closed or, more exactly still, of time as a prison- whilst hope appears as piercing through time; everything happens as though time, instead of hedging consciousness around, allowed something to pass through it. It was from this point of view that I previously drew attention to the prophetic character of hope. Of course one cannot say that hope sees what is going to happen: but it affirms as if it saw. One might say that it draws its authority from a hidden vision of which it is allowed to take account without enjoying it.

We might say again that if time is in its essence a separation and as it were a perpetual splitting up of the self in relation to itself, hope on the contrary aims at reunion, at recollection, at reconciliation: in that way, and in that way alone, it might be called a memory of the future."

Michael Uebel would, I think, like this idea of hope as a reunion, a recollection, and a reconciliation which gives to the future a positive quality that sometimes the present and the past have difficulty in revealing. Marcel makes very clear here how an ethic of hope embraces the future.


michael uebel said...

Very nice. But don't you think that hope is really homophobic, heteronormative, and anti-queer? (Hehehe.)

(I still await a citation for that alleged Freudian connection between hope and heteronormativity. Madhavi?)

Anywho...I've returned to a classic text this week, Aaron Beck's Cognitive Therapy and the Emotional Disorders(1976), because, well, (1) I got it for 2 bucks at the monster book sale, and (2) I've read a pile about cognitive therapy, but I ain't read the man who put it on the map. So, what does this have to do with hope and ethics?

Beck chose as an epigraph to his first chapter a quote from Alfred North Whitehead that, I think, more or less sums up what I think is bankrupt about a lot of what passes as "theory" in the humanities.

Beck is talking about scientific theory here, and I'm adapting it to refer to just "theory."

Theory is rooted in what I have just have called the whole apparatus of common sense thought. That is the datum from which it starts, and to which it must recur...You may polish up common sense, you may contradict it in detail, you may surprise it. But ultimately your whole task is to satisfy it.

Hope, like many of the so-called virtues and character strengths that are the bread-n-butter of the positive psychologists, are common sense ways of living. Together, they make us human, no, actually, as Rob Zombie would have it, more human than human.

I stumbled on this, from Fromm: "To hope is a state of being. It is an inner readiness, that of intense, but not yet spent activeness."

Michael O'Rourke said...

Cool, thanks Michael. When I went to pick up Kearney's Strangers, Gods and Monsters last night Erich Fromm's The Sane Society was underneath it.