Hope in Ancient Greek Philosophy

In Historical and Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Hope. Cham: pp. 3-23 (2020)
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This chapter aims to illuminate ways in which hope was significant in the philosophy of classical Greece. Although ancient Greek philosophies contain few dedicated and systematic expositions on the nature of hope, they nevertheless include important remarks relating hope to the good life, to reason and deliberation, and to psychological phenomena such as memory, imagination, fear, motivation, and pleasure. After an introductory discussion of Hesiod and Heraclitus, the chapter focuses on Plato and Aristotle. Consideration is given both to Plato’s direct comments on hope and to the narrative contexts of his dialogues, with analysis of Plato’s positive and negative representations of hope, hope’s relationship to reason, and Plato’s more psychological approach in the Philebus, where hope finds a place among memory, recollection, pleasure, and pain. The chapter then reviews Aristotle’s discussions of confidence, hope, and courage, observing that although Aristotle does not mention hope as a virtue, he does note its importance to human agency and deliberation and as a foundation for the further development of virtue. The chapter concludes that discussions surrounding hope in ancient Greek philosophy are rich and challenging and can serve as a lively stimulus to further exploration of the concept of hope.

Author's Profile

Scott Gravlee
University of Mount Union


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