Redemptive HopeFrom the Age of Enlightenment to the Age of Obama

Redemptive HopeFrom the Age of Enlightenment to the Age of Obama

Akiba J. Lerner

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780823267910

Publisher: Fordham University Press


This is a book about our need for redemptive narratives to ward off despair and the dangers these same narratives create by raising expectations that are seldom fulfilled. This book also explores the dialectical tension between the need and dangers of redemptive hope narratives by bringing together secular liberal democratic thought—as found within the work of late neo-pragmatic philosopher Richard Rorty—with religious liberal thinkers—such as Martin Buber and Ernst Bloch—for the purpose of exploring the contested intellectual history of redemptive hope narratives. This book begins by tracing the history of the tension between thinkers who have taken a theistic approach to hope by linking it to a transcendental signifier—usually God—versus those intellectuals who have striven to link hopes for redemption to our inter-subjective interactions with other human beings. Starting with Richard Rorty’s proposal for a postmetaphysical ideal of social hope, this book brings together modern Jewish thinkers—such as Martin Buber and Ernst Bloch—with debates over religion and liberalism in contemporary democratic culture. In the twenty-first century, secular liberal culture needs elements of religion to survive, and conversely religion cannot thrive without adopting insights from secular thought, particularly from thinkers like Rorty and Habermas. Bringing together these different thinkers and traditions allows us to better appreciate how maintaining rather than seeking to overcome the dialectical tensions between religious and liberal thought can actually provide a new redemptive narrative for the twenty-first century.