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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 3: Rethinking Identity in Hope

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Chapter 3Rethinking Identity in Hope

In this chapter, I aim to reflect on how hope participates in human identity, and how it could rehabilitate it in the event of a crisis. To try to achieve this, I am going to put Metz and Lynch in dialogue. Sometimes, I will even reread one through the eyes of the other. At the end of each section, the results will be contrasted with those obtained in Chapter 1, where I study what is understood by mature identity.

3.1Hope Constitutes a Fundamental Element of a Vulnerable Human Being: Disposition to Trust and the Communitarian Dimension of Hope

3.1.1Conversation with Metz and Lynch

3.1.1.1On the Symptoms

As we have seen, both Metz and Lynch find in hope a foundational or a constitutive element of the human person. However, both correct any simplification that understands or suggests—as some self-help psychologies do—hope as simple optimism or as superficial gratifications of happiness which are often unsustainable in time. They do this by verifying the facts: life is not so simple and human beings, as they are both identity and memory, are time and unfold themselves over time as history. In fact, flat optimism collides sooner or later with evil, breaking its ever-increasing progress schemes. For this reason, a self-understanding that guides human maturity (reluctance, gratitude, decision-making principles) must accept and have resources to integrate the difficulties that life faces as challenges or, sometimes, as threats. Otherwise,...

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