Mark Bernier​

Currently I'm a Research Fellow with the Hope initiative (Notre Dame) working on a philosophical analysis of hope, and what such an analysis reveals about Christian hope. 

My research interests are in philosophy of religion, philosophy of hope, Kierkegaard, ethics, and existentialism. I also enjoy the early modern period, in particular Leibniz, as well as metaphysics. When time allows, I have some ideas kicking around in applied ethics (about the relation between sex and the self), and I want to explore the philosophy of art.

Blaise, contemplating...

Irons in the Fire

Recent Work


Currently, I have three different projects I am working on: some articles and another book proposal (for an anthology).

First, I am working on two (possibly three) articles on the nature, norms, and importance of hope. My first aim is to clarify the nature of hope, to give an account of its structure and essential features, and to say something about the norms that pertain to hope. When we examine hope, however, a puzzle emerges. It seems some hopes require us to undermine rationally held beliefs, yet these hopes are not only permissible, but praiseworthy. This is troublesome, given the importance hope has in life, for it suggests we may be required to undermine, or act against, our rational beliefs. But analysis reveals hope is nonetheless guided by norms, even though these norms are not primarily epistemic. This further indicates hope is governed by considerations of flourishing. It is here we find normative guidance for our hopes. The second phase of the project, then, will be to explain the role of hope in flourishing.

My second project is a book proposal, tentatively titled The Nature of Hope. This will be an anthology of essays about hope -- written by various scholars -- covering conceptual analysis, history (ancient, medieval, early modern, Kant, etc.), and the importance of hope. There is a definite gap in the scholarship, and such a book will fill this need.

Third, I am working on Kierkegaard's notion of the self, and the inherent relation the self has to God. Since, according to Kierkegaard, God does not seem to be an object of knowledge for the self -- and yet, the self's relation to God is inescapable -- some interesting questions arise about the nature of the self, self-knowledge, and identity.

Kobe Bryant sat next to me at one of my favorite coffee shops (Kean Coffee, in Newport Beach, CA). We did not talk about hope.

Here's a (very) short abstract:

Hope has received almost no attention among Kierkegaard scholars (though I have noticed a few recent exceptions). This is a significant oversight. What this study explores is the place of hope in some of Kierkegaard’s most important themes: despair, faith and the self. I show how these core elements are connected through an essential thread of hope. 

I have recently released a monograph: The Task of Hope in Kierkegaard (Oxford University Press, late 2015). In this book I analyze the importance of hope in Kierkegaard's thought.

There have been two reviews so far:

Blackwell's Reviews in Religion and Theology 

Reading Religion: a Publication of the American Academy of Religion.

I recently wrote a book review for Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, for Gordon Graham's wonderful book, Wittgenstein and Natural Religion. See it here.