HomePhilosophia: International Journal of Philosophyvol. 40 no. 1 (2011)

Ambiguity of Hope: An Analysis of its Status in Politics

Lukas Kaelin

Discipline: Philosophy, Political Science



Ambiguity is inherent in the concept of hope especially when used in the field of politics. While a functionalist view of politics can only understand hope in terms of manipulation, an Aristotelian view of politics may require hope for its operation. The ambiguity of hope, then, is traced to ancient Greek and Roman thought, in Hesiod and Ovid. This ambiguity can also be found in 20th century German philosophy. Ernst Bloch is just as enthusiastic about hope as Theodor W. Adorno is skeptical about it. A reflection on their respective philosophies will lead to a better understanding of the potential and the danger of hope in the political field.