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Freedom Freed by Hope

A Conversation with Johann B. Metz and William F. Lynch on the ‘Identity Crisis’ in the West

Alberto Dominguez Munaiz

A hopeless individual is more vulnerable and is threatened with indifference, meaninglessness, apathy, anxiety, stress, and despair. Are there symptoms of this in the West? Is it an individual phenomenon or has it been historically-culturally transmitted?

This book analyzes, from an interdisciplinary perspective (psychology, sociology, neuroscience, philosophy, theology), how hope contributes to forming a mentally healthy and mature identity. But what hope? Is this just for moments of despair? Can hope free imagination, enlarge desires and rehabilitate the zest for life? Is there a phenomenology of hope?

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Chapter 1: Status Quaestionis: On Identity, Modernity, and Postmodernity

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Chapter 1Status Quaestionis: On Identity, Modernity, and Postmodernity

Modernity in the Western world has given way to Postmodernity, characterized by uncertainty and skepticism. Modernity, apart from the positive aspects that it introduced (autonomy, independence of science, industrial revolution, secularization, modern nation-state, human rights), brought about a displacement of human individuality which led the individual into a sort of “isolation, fragmentation, and narcissism, where life is an indifferent game and individual options are merely aesthetic and provisional.”32

Postmodernity arises as a reaction to Modernity and—still focused on the subject—turns into a humbler understanding of the human being. This reaction and change entail a crisis of humanism and identity that cannot be fully explained in sociological terms, but which has a deeper anthropological root at the level of imagination, i.e. at the level of disposition, sensibility and horizon, according to Michael Paul Gallagher. Precisely the domains in which the self-understanding of the human being, the possibility of faith, hope, and gratitude are elucidated.

I will analyze identity in order to study the roots which currently reduce or weaken people’s lives. This is why I must clarify what we assume by identity in a mature person—with all the difficulties that psychology and philosophy find when they come to deciding what this relative term maturity is—. Thus, I will first discuss the notion of a mature identity and then I will present its current situation in the West.

1.1What We Assume by...

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