Hope is a trait peculiar to the human condition. Before being a theme for religious beliefs, political projects or ideologies, hope is our constant striving for a future good, for something that is ‘not yet’ and, perhaps, seems presently out of our grasp. But hope is more than simple expecta- tion. For expectation is based on the patterns of development one can per- ceive in his/her experience of past and present: «I know this is the way things usually develop, therefore I expect x to happen». Hope is different, because it strives for a ‘not yet’ that transcends the limitations of the pre- sent and often goes beyond (or even against) expectation. Hope is a dy- namism of our time-bound sense of existence, a projective openness and an engagement to foster a growth of awareness and meaning in our future.
The essays in this collection look at the issue of hope from a number of perspectives: historical, philosophical, literary, political, and theological. Most of them are revised and expanded version of papers read and dis- cussed in Conference which took place in Evanston (Illinois, USA) on the 27th and 25th April 2012, in the framework of a scientific partnership be- tween the University of Pisa and the Northwestern University, coordinated by prof. Adriano Fabris and prof. Kenneth Seeskin.
A first group of essays examines hope under a philosophical and theo- logical angle (by means of analyses of literary texts, too): messianism with- out apocalypticism (Seeskin), present-day religiosity at risk of losing its relationship with the future (Fabris), the reversal of themes of the Jewish tradition in Leopardi, in order to convey a message of nihilism and radical disenchantment (Perfetti), ‘absolute hope’, that is not time-bound, i.e a sense of the rightness even in a world without meaning, as expressed by Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and Wittgenstein (Morson). The focus shifts on the an- cient world in the essays of Wallace (on the manifold controversial traits of hope in ancient Greece) and of Tataranni (on the role of Spes in the politi- cal and religious life of the Roman Republic). The last two essays investi- gate hope in terms of social analysis and political philosophy, offering a survey of the original co-implication between ethics and utopia in modern thinkers (Tundo Ferente) and the analysis of the relationship between hope and models of normality/abnormality in three contemporary films Avatar, Transamerica, and The Piano (Monceri).