Hope in Western Philosophy

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Fleming, Maggie
Hope , Aristotle , Camus , Kant , Kierkegaard , Belief , Virtue
This project explores hope in Western philosophy through the examination of particular beliefs and teachings concerning the works of philosophers working in the ancient, medieval, and modern eras. In the second chapter I explore Aristotle using representative primary and secondary sources in order to come to an understanding of what we can make of Aristotle’s hope secondly I discuss selections from the work of St. Augustine, a medieval thinker. The third chapter introduces Immanuel Kant, and Søren Kierkegaard into the discussion of hope. In the fourth chapter I explore hope as portrayed by Albert Camus and Jayne Waterworth. I have chosen Camus to represent the modern non-sectarian era because of his posing and answering important philosophical questions of the day. He explored the human being’s capacity to know and to act ethically and our ability to reconceptualize the physical and social worlds without appeal to God or in terms of the human being’s apparent purpose, directive principle, or goal. His articles and novels articulated a critique of religion and of the Enlightenment. Camus’ notion of the place of hope in our human condition is taken from his texts, The Stranger, The Myth of Sisyphus, and The Rebel. Jayne Waterworth is a philosopher working today and her work specifically explores the nature of hope. The fifth chapter of this thesis provides my explanation of what hope is from a non-sectarian, non-medical, philosophical vantage. It shows that hope can be understood on a day-to-day trivial basis such as, “I hope it will not rain on my birthday” to a profound level: “I hope my child will live through this risky surgery.” I argue that profound hope is a type of coping mechanism or ego-defense. Finally, I argue that there is no necessary reason to hope, because in some cases it can be deleterious to one’s overall well-being.
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