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Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the development of ideas about hope, left in Pandora's box either as a consolation or as another evil, later the companion of faith and love

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.


Beatrice Han-Pile
Professor of Philosophy at the University of Essex

Robert Stern
Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield


Judith Wolfe
Professor of Philosophical Theology at the University of St Andrews

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Available now

53 minutes

Last on

Thu 22 Nov 2018 21:30


Beatrice Han-Pile at the University of Essex

Judith Wolfe at the University of St Andrews

Robert Stern at the University of Sheffield

Hope by Claudia Bloeser and Titus Stahl - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Faith, Hope and Love as Virtues in the Theological Tradition by David Batho - The Ethics of Powerlessness project – University of Essex

Faith, Hope and Love in Critical Perspective by David Batho - The Ethics of Powerlessness project – University of Essex

Hope and optimism – Conceptual and Empirical Investigations

Hope - Wikipedia



Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologia (Ave Maria Press, 2000)

Ernst Bloch (trans. Neville Plaice, Stephen Plaice and Paul Knight), The Principle of Hope (Blackwell, 1986)

Terry Eagleton, Hope Without Optimism (Yale University Press, 2015)

Immanuel Kant (eds. Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood), Critique of Pure Reason (Cambridge University Press, 1999)

Immanuel Kant (trans. Allen Wood), Kant: Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason: And Other Writings (Cambridge University Press, 2018)

Søren Kierkegaard, Works of Love (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2009)

Jonathan Lear, Radical Hope: Ethics in the Face of Devastation (Harvard University Press, 2006)

Gabriel Marcel, Homo Viator: Introduction to the Metaphysic of Hope, (St Augustine’s Press, 2010)

Alan Mittleman, Hope in a Democratic Age (Oxford University Press, 2009)

Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope (SCM Press, 2010)

Erwin Panofsky, Pandora’s Box: The Changing Aspects of a Mythical Symbol (Princeton University Press, 1956)

Richard Rorty, Philosophy and Social Hope (Penguin, 1999)

Saint Augustine, Confessions (Penguin, 2002)



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