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Is Hope a Secular Virtue? Hope as the Virtue of the Possible

Han-Pile, Beatrice and Stern, Robert (2021) 'Is Hope a Secular Virtue? Hope as the Virtue of the Possible.' In: Snow, Nancy, (ed.) Hope. Oxford University Press (OUP). (In Press)

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While hope is one of the three theological virtues within the Christian tradition, alongside faith and love, its position as a virtue outside that tradition is more contested. Indeed, doubts about the value of hope have been raised from Hesiod onwards, through to Byron’s claim that it is ‘nothing but the paint on the face of existence’, and Nietzsche’s denunciation of hope as ‘the worst of all evils, because it prolongs the torments of man’. While not completely critical, both Plato and Aristotle seem to have shared these reservations, Plato worrying that hope can make us gullible, while Aristotle refrained from listing it among the virtues, though he did explore its relation to courage and megalopsychia. In this paper, we examine in more detail the case against hope as a secular virtue, focusing on three main criteria of what makes something a virtue: namely, it is good for its possessor; stands between two vices; and can be cultivated. The status of hope as a virtue can be questioned on each of these counts, but we aim to rebut these doubts, arguing that hope can and should be accorded this status after all. We will begin by briefly explaining what we take a virtue to be and so what it might mean to conceive of hope as a virtue, and then we will attempt to show how hope can meet each of the criteria of virtue outlined above, thereby defending this way of conceiving of hope as a virtue. Just as patience helps us to navigate the temporal, hope helps us to navigate the possible, and to flourish in situations of uncertainty.

Item Type: Book Section
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2020 20:31
Last Modified: 07 May 2021 11:02

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