Posted by: HAT | January 14, 2015

Being Realistic

blindfolded figure atop a sphere holding a lyre

a classic depiction of Hope

Hi, Gang!

Finished reading the Introduction to Jürgen Moltmann’s Theology of Hope last night.

It’s clear he’s using “utopian” in its pejorative sense, as something people can’t expect or hope to realize. He wants, I think, to assign all of the positive significance of the concept to “hope,” and “messianic expectation.” And while I like to keep “utopian” more positive than that, I feel I’m on his wavelength when he says things like this:

“Hope alone is to be called ‘realistic’, because it alone takes seriously the possibilities with which all reality is fraught. It does not take things as they happen to stand or to lie, but as progressing, moving things with possibilities of change.” and “Thus hopes and anticipations of the future are not a transfiguring glow superimposed upon a darkened existence, but are realistic ways of perceiving the scope of our real possibilities, and as such they set everything in motion and keep it in a state of change. Hope and the kind of thinking that goes with it consequently cannot submit to the reproach of being utopian, for they do not strive after things that have ‘no place’, but after things that have ‘no place as yet‘ but can acquire one.” [1]

Reciprocally, the attitude of taking “just the facts” is correspondingly unrealistic, and ironically “utopian” in Moltmann’s sense, since it denies the possibilities in the situation(s) in which we find ourselves concretely, assigning them to “no place.” Here, he is thinking in a line with Adorno and Adorno’s rejection of positivism, for the same reason – the insistence that how things are is the only way things can be.

Devastating critique of the essential inadequacy of “eternal present” ideology, which deserves more attention. Rejecting the notion that the “eternal present” is an adequate understanding of eternity, and that the immanence of being is the only place to seek understanding and life, is not the same thing as the kind of refusal to “accept” things that is such a problem in, for instance, 12-Step programs and family relationships. “Expectation makes life good, for in expectation man [sic] can accept his whole present and find joy not only in its joy but also in its sorrow, happiness not only in its happiness but also in its pain.” [2] Rather, as I read it, it’s a rejection of the kind of Heideggerian embrace of the ahistorical immanent now that wants to scour metaphysics out of our minds (and along with it, all being that is not, in actual fact, immobilized and dead).

____________________
[1] Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope, trans. James W. Leitch (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1975), 25.
[2] Ibid., 32.

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