Judith Wolfe on BBC4 program ‘In Our Time’

Hope (G.F. Watts, 1886, Tate Britain)

Judith Wolfe, St. Mary’s Professor of Philosophical Theology, spoke on Melvyn Bragg’s program In Our Time on the philosophy of hope.

To the ancient Greeks, hope was closer to self-deception, one of the evils left in Pandora’s box or jar, in Hesiod’s story. In Christian tradition, hope became one of the theological virtues, the desire for divine union and the expectation of receiving it, an action of the will rather than the intellect. To Kant, ‘what may I hope’ was one of the three basic questions which human reason asks, while Nietzsche echoed Hesiod, arguing that leaving hope in the box was a deception by the gods, reflecting human inability to face the demands of existence. Yet even those critical of hope, like Camus, conceded that life was nearly impossible without it.

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