We were asked to write an article about hope for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as part of our hope research project that is funded by the Hope and Optimism project at Notre Dame University. The article covers both the philosophical history of hope in the Western tradition, current approaches in analytical philosophy and authors like Bloch and Rorty.
Discussions of hope can be found throughout the history of philosophy and
across all Western philosophical traditions, even though philosophy has
traditionally not paid the same attention to hope as it has to attitudes like
belief and desire. However, even though hope has historically only rarely
been discussed systematically – with important exceptions, such as Aquinas,
Bloch and Marcel – almost all major philosophers acknowledge that hope plays an
important role in regard to human motivation, religious belief or politics.
Historically, discussions of the importance of hope were often embedded in
particular philosophical projects. More recent discussions of hope provide
independent accounts of its nature and its relation to other mental
phenomena, such as desire, intention and optimism.