Even When Optimism Has Been Lost, Hope Has a Role to Play

Katie Stockdale and Michael Milona: There is growing consensus in philosophy that hope involves at least the desire for something and the belief that what we desire is possible. It also involves some kind of favorable outlook. Metaphorically speaking, hope invites the person to view in a favorable light the possibility of fulfilling their desire. Philosophers don’t agree on what, exactly, this ‘favourable light’ aspect of hope amounts to, but we think of it as a kind of experience. When we hope to avoid the direst consequences of climate change, we not only desire this outcome and believe it’s possible, but also experience it as worth striving for. Hope can reveal what’s important in a similar way as everyday perceptual experience reveals the physical world around us. The moments in which we find ourselves hoping are, we think, occasions to reflect on our values.

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