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Social Hope in the Time of Trump – Ron Aronson (Grand Rapids)

September 13, 2017
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Event Category:

The Sweet House
254 E. Fulton
Grand Rapids, MI 49503 United States

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Organized by:
Jennifer Beahan
Phone: 616-698-2342 x801
Email: jbeahan@centerforinquiry.org


The election of Donald Trump has exposed American society’s profound crisis of hope. It occurred against the background of a generation of shrinking employment, rising inequality, attacks on public education, and shredding of the social safety net. The tumultuous first months of the Trump presidency have set the stage for a stunning insurgency of resistance. Against this background, and drawing on generations of political struggle as well as philosophy, Ronald Aronson argues for a unique conception of social hope, one with the power for understanding and acting upon the present situation.

Hope, he argues, is not a form of dependency—neither a religious faith nor the belief in an authoritarian strongman who proclaims “I alone can fix it.” Hope is not a mood or feeling, and it is not passive. It is the very basis of social will and political action. it entails acting collectively to make the world more equal, more democratic, more peaceful, and more just. Even at a time when false hopes are rife, Aronson argues, social hope still persists. Always underlying our experience—even if we completely ignore it—is the fact of our social belonging, which can be reactivated into a powerful collective force, an active we.

Copies of Ronald Aronson’s newest book We: Reviving Social Hope will be available for purchase at the event.

Meetings are open to the Public and are held in the Auditorium on the lower level. Please use the door on the south side of the building on the lower level (by parking lot).

After the meeting, join us at Vitale’s Sports Bar, 834 Leonard NE, Grand Rapids, MI to socialize. View Map

The Auditorium is wheelchair accessible via a lift immediately inside and to the left of the lower level door.

CFI Michigan values full participation for all attendees at all of our events, including participation from individuals with disabilities. Requests for reasonable accommodation may be made by contacting Jennifer Beahan at jbeahan@centerforinquiry.net or 616-706-2029 at least three days prior to the event.

Learn about Parking, Accessibility, and more.

About Ronald Aronson, PhD

Distinquished Professor of the History of Ideas, Wayne State University

Ronald Aronson grew up in Detroit and was educated at Wayne State University, U.C.L.A., the University of Michigan, and Brandeis University, where he earned a Ph.D. in the History of Ideas. He studied with William Barrett, Page Smith, and Herbert Marcuse. Swept up in the political activism of the1960s, he became a community organizer in the African American neighborhood of New Brunswick, New Jersey, and an editor of the prominent New Left journal, Studies on the Left. In spring, 1968, as he was completing a doctoral dissertation on “Art and Freedom in the Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre,” he participated in the “Freedom School” organized in the aftermath of the student strike at Columbia University. Aronson taught at Wayne State University between 1968 and 2013, first at Monteith College and then in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, a program for working adults abolished by the WSU Board of Governors in 2007. He is now Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the History of Ideas. Winner of several scholarly and teaching awards at Wayne State, Aronson is the past president of its Academy of Scholars as well as of the Sartre Society of North America. In recognition of his scholarly career and political contributions to South Africa, in April, 2002 he was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of Natal/Kwazulu, Durban, South Africa. Aronson is author of Living Without God: New Directions for Atheists, Agnostics, Secularists, and the Undecided (Counterpoint, September, 2008). His latest book is We: Reviving Social Hope, published in April, 2017 by University of Chicago Press. Other books include We Have Only this Life to Live: Selected Essays 1939-1975 of Jean-Paul Sartre (NYReview Editions, 2013); Camus & Sartre: The Story of a Friendship and the Quarrel that Ended It (Chicago, January, 2004); and After Marxism (Guilford, 1995). Recent articles have appeared in Salon.com, The Boston Review, The Nation, Common Dreams, and Alternet. His writing has also appeared in Bookforum, The Yale Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Washington Post, International Herald-Tribune, Toronto Star, (London) Times Higher Education Supplement, and The Times Literary Supplement. The Nation, The Huffington Post, The Denver Post, AlterNet, USA Today, and Religion Dispatches among others have published his articles addressing secularism. One of Aronson’s lifelong concerns has been to study and write about the nature of hope, which is the theme of his new book and of his recent lectures. In these he develops a secularist conception of social hope in the 21st century and the time of Donald Trump. Since the 2016 election he has been actively organizing resistance activities with the Huntington Woods (MI) Peace, Citizenship, and Education Project.