What May I Hope?

By Andrew Chignell

© 2016 – Routledge

240 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415495936
pub: 2016-04-30
Hardback: 9780415495929
pub: 2016-04-30
Comp Exam Copy

About the Book

The concept of hope plays a fascinating yet overlooked role in Kant's thought. Whilst his emphasis on reason and enlightened thought may be seen to leave little room for hope, it is a question that sits at the heart of his writings on religion and political philosophy. What May I Hope? introduces and assesses Kant's answers to this compelling question and also places hope in a contemporary philosophical context.

Andrew Chignell begins by introducing accounts of hope before Kant, including those of Plato, Aristotle, St. Paul, Augustine and Aquinas. He then explains how Kant’s metaphysics provides the background to his account of hope before examining the relationship between belief and hope, in particular Kant’s argument that it is rational for human beings to hope not only that God exists but that we legitimately hope for political ends such as the ideal republic, the ‘kingdom of ends’ and peace. He also shows how hope motivates a theme at the centre of Kant’s work as a whole: that we progress towards enlightenment and autonomy.

He then considers early criticisms of Kant’s theory of belief and faith in the work of Jacobi, Fichte, Schelling and Feuerbach before considering the two most important critics of Kant’s philosophy of hope, Hegel and Marx. He also examines the criticisms levelled against Kant by Kierkegaard, for whom faith is much more important than hope, and Schopenhauer, who in contrast promotes a philosophical hopelessness before considering pragmatists such as John Dewey and Richard Rorty who accorded an important place to hope.

The final part of the book asks what we may hope for today. Chignell asks what place hope has in the face of inequality, human suffering and genocide and asks whether religion may promote false hope, leading us away from political action.

About the Series

Kant's Questions

"The Kant's Questions series is thoroughly excellent. The books combine depth of philosophical treatment with a fluid, easily-readable style, offering original historical interpretations of Kant's writings with an illuminating attentiveness to issues of contemporary relevance. All in all, the series reveals the stunning depth, power, and lasting impact of Kant's writings." - Robert Hanna, University of Colorado at Boulder, USA

"This is an excellently conceived series by internationally renowned Kant scholars who, unusually, focus not on individual works or sub-disciplinary fields of inquiry but engage with those questions which Kant took to be of perennial philosophical interest. Engagingly and accessibly written whilst meeting exemplary standards of scholarship, these volumes will prove an invaluable resource for students and teachers of Kant’s philosophy alike." - Katrin Flikschuh, London School of Economics, UK

"By providing careful and detailed accounts of Kant's answers to what he considered to be the most fundamental questions of philosophy, the books in this series constitute excellent introductions to the key aspects of Kant's philosophy. Moreover, by tracing the development of these questions and ideas to the present day, they contextualise contemporary debates within a historical narrative in a way that allows the reader to grasp the continuing relevance and significance of Kant's questions and the answers that he put forward." - Ralf M. Bader, New York University, USA


Series advisor: Allen Wood, Stanford University, USA

"The field of philosophy ... can be reduced to the following questions: What can I know? What ought I to do? What may I hope? What is the human being? Metaphysics answers the first question, morals the second, religion the third, and anthropology the fourth." – Immanuel Kant

With the addition of his celebrated essay, An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment? Kant bequeaths us five fundamental questions that continue to resonate and challenge today.

Kant's Questions explores the philosophical meaning and significance of each question. Taken individually, each book is a fresh and innovative introduction to a fundamental aspect of Kant’s thought. Taken together, the series is an outstanding resource on the central questions motivating Kant’s philosophical and intellectual outlook as a whole.

Each book shares a clear structure. The first part introduces Kant’s question, explaining his own answer to it; the second part explores historical criticisms to the question; and the third and final part of the book places the question in a contemporary philosophical context. Also included are chapter summaries and a helpful section of annotated further reading at the end of each chapter.

The Kant's Questions series is essential reading, not only for all students of Kant, but those studying subjects such as ethics, metaphysics, philosophy of human nature and the history of philosophy, as well as those in related disciplines such as religious studies, politics and sociology.

  • What is Enlightenment? Samuel Fleischacker
  • What is the human being? Patrick R. Frierson
  • What may I hope? Andrew Chignell
  • What can I know? Michelle Grier
  • What should I do? Julian Wuerth

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Religious
RELIGION / Philosophy