Hope and critical theory

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16 Citations (Scopus)


In the first part of the paper I consider the relative neglect of hope in the tradition of critical theory. I attribute this neglect to a low estimation of the cognitive, aesthetic, and moral value of hope, and to the strong-but, I argue, contingent-association that holds between hope and religion. I then distinguish three strategies for thinking about the justification of social hope; one which appeals to a notion of unfulfilled or frustrated natural human capacities, another which invokes a providential order, and a third which questions the very appropriateness of justification, turning instead to a notion of ungroundable hope. Different senses of ungroundable hope are distinguished and by way of conclusion I briefly consider their relevance for the project of critique today.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-61
Number of pages17
JournalCritical Horizons
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005


  • Frankfurt School
  • Humanism
  • Postmodernism
  • Rorty
  • Social Criticism
  • Social Hope


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