22 Nov, 2018 170 Ethics

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss 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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  • Beatrice Han-Pile 4 episodes
    Professor of Philosophy at the University of Essex
  • Robert Stern 2 episodes
    Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield
  • Judith Wolfe No other episodes
    Professor of Philosophical Theology at the University of St Andrews

Reading list

  • Thomas Aquinas
    Summa Theologia, Ave Maria Press, 2000 (Ave Maria Press, 2000)
  • Ernst Bloch
    The Principle of Hope, Blackwell, 1986 (Blackwell, 1986)
  • Terry Eagleton
    Hope Without Optimism, Yale University Press, 2015 (Yale University Press, 2015)
  • Immanuel Kant
    Critique of Pure Reason, Cambridge University Press, 1999 (Cambridge University Press, 1999)
  • Immanuel Kant
    Kant: Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason: And Other Writings, Cambridge University Press, 2018 (Cambridge University Press, 2018)
  • Soren Kierkegaard
    Works of Love, Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2009 (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2009)
  • Gabriel Marcel
    Homo Viator: Introduction to the Metaphysic of Hope, St Augustine's Press, 2010 (St Augustine's Press, 2010)
  • Alan Mittleman
    Hope in a Democratic Age, Oxford University Press, 2009 (Oxford University Press, 2009)
  • Jurgen Moltmann
    Theology of Hope, SCM Press, 2010 (SCM Press, 2010)
  • Erwin Panofsky
    Pandora's Box: The Changing Aspects of a Mythical Symbol, Princeton University Press, 1956 (Princeton University Press, 1956)
  • Richard Rorty
    Philosophy and Social Hope, Penguin, 1999 (Penguin, 1999)
  • Saint Augustine
    Confessions, Penguin, 2002 (Penguin, 2002)

Related episodes

Programme ID: m00017vl

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00017vl

Auto-category: 170 (Ethics)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, according to the poet Hesiod, hope was all that remained in Pandora's jar once all the evils inside it escaped and spread across the world.