Winter 2009

The Suffering Body, Hope, and the Disclosure of the Future

José Granados

“The true secret of Christian hope is that it feeds on suffering. The art of hope consists of finding precisely within the suffering that seems to obstruct the future, the key that opens it up.”


According to the myth of Prometheus as reinterpreted by Aeschylus, the Greek hero brought the human race something far more precious than fire or the divine power of dominion associated with it.Prometheus’ real gift was the capacity to forget about death and, therefore, to be unaware of the precariousness of human existence. This blindness was indeed considered a blessing, for it allowed man to build up his future without yielding to paralyzing despair. Only through the pious illusion that he was not going to die could the human being envision the morrow and walk toward it with confidence. According to this viewpoint, suffering prevents man from looking out at the horizon because it encloses him within a circle of anxiety. Suffering appears, then, as the great threat to hope.


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1. To Susan Shaughnessy, in memoriam.

2. Cf. N. Wecklein, The Prometheus Bound of Aeschylus and the Fragments of the Prometheus Unbound, trans. F. D. F. Allen (Boston: Ginn & Company, 1891), lines 246–50. Cf. the comment by Hans Georg Gadamer, The Enigma of Health: The Art of Healing in a Scientific Age, trans. Jason Gaiger and Nicholas Walker (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996), 156.