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Hope: The Janus-faced virtue (with feathers)

Michael Schrader, Michael P. Levine

Abstract

In this essay we argue for the Janus-faced nature of hope. We show that attempts to sanitise the concept of hope either by separating it conceptually from other phenomena such as wishful thinking, or, more generally, by seeking to minimise the negative aspects of hope, do not help us to understand the nature of hope and its functions as regards religion. Drawing on functional accounts of religion from Clifford Geertz and Tamas Pataki, who both—in their different ways—see the function of religion in terms of its capacity to satisfy deep psychological needs, we demonstrate that religion uniquely positions itself with regard to hope’s two faces, simultaneously exploiting positive and negative aspects of hope. 

Keywords

Hope; Religion; Virtue; Desire; Wish-fulfillment

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