Ethics in Focus: Philosophy of Hope

How does ‘hope’ influence our actions, and can it be our moral guide? Compare the following statements with each other: “I hope Coronavirus will end”; “I believe Coronavirus will end”; and “I know Coronavirus will end”. How do you perceive the certainty you consider the speaker to hold about each statement? Are the degrees of certainty different among these statements? Are these types of certainty objective or merely subjective? What role does ‘hope’ play in ethics? By drawing on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant and the greatest influencer on him, Alexander Baumgarten, this course casts philosophical light on this concept.


DELIVERY MODE

  • This class will be delivered online via the online platform Zoom.
  • This course requires students to have an email, a reliable internet connection, a microphone/speakers and access to a tablet, smartphone or computer.


SUGGESTED READING

  • Baumgarten, A. G.: Ethica philosophica [Philosophical Ethics], 3rd ed. (Halle, 1763) [As there is no translation of this work into a modern language, I will provide my own].
  • Kant, I.: Critique of Pure Reason (Cambridge University Press, 1998).
  • Kant, I.: Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason (Cambridge University Press, 1998)
  • Kant, I.: Theoretical Philosophy after 1781 (Cambridge University Press, 2002)
  • Kant, I.: Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View (Cambridge University Press, 2006).
  • Kant, I.: Critique of Practical Reason (Cambridge University Press, 2015)


COURSE OUTLINE

  • Share your own views on hope: Compare the following statements with each other: “I hope Coronavirus will end”; “I believe Coronavirus will end”; and “I know Coronavirus will end”. How do you perceive the certainty you consider the speaker to hold about each statement? Are the degrees of certainty different among these statements? Are these types of certainty objective or merely subjective? What role does ‘hope’ play in ethics?
  • Hope and ethics: Kant states the question “For what may I hope?” as one of the fundamental questions of philosophy, alongside “What can I know?” and “What should I do?” The second question can be answered by metaphysics and the third by ethics, but by which branch of philosophy can the first question be answered? Religion? Politics? Or, the combination of both? Can, then, ethics contribute to answering this question as well? We focus on the possible contribution of ethics to investigating the concept of hope.
  • Hope and one’s own happiness: We all ‘want’ to be happy naturally. But Kant ascribes a kind of higher vocation to hope. When we say we ‘hope’ to be happy, this happiness is qualitatively different from the happiness we ‘want’ merely naturally. Kant calls the happiness we hope to have ‘worthiness to be happy’. What is it and is rationality involved in our hoping to be happy?
  • Hope and one’s own moral progress: In discussing religion, Kant envisages one’s moral progress as an object of hope. But since he also assumes that we have a radical propensity to evil, we need to perform a “revolution of the will” to counter this propensity. This revolution is an object of hope because he thinks that the depth of the heart is inscrutable to us and therefore that the hope for divine assistance to perform the revolution is required. Is this revolution a metaphor borrowed from politics, thus implying some connection between hope and politics? Does the hope for divine assistance in achieving one’s own moral progress have rational grounds, and is it still a valid conception in this secular age?
  • Hope and the moral improvement of the human race as a whole: In his political and historical writings, Kant considers the hope for historical progress towards a morally better, peaceful future. He thereby sees the moral improvement of the human race as an object of hope, or what he calls a rational belief. But he also thinks this improvement cannot be proven. How, then, is rationality involved in hoping this improvement? Is it different from how rationality is involved in achieving happiness and moral progress at an individual level?
  • Reflect on your views on hope: Have you changed your views on hope since the beginning of the course? Why or why not?


PLANNED LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Understand some of the major theories and debates in philosophical accounts of hope.
  2. Understand and analyse arguments in the relevant literatures.
  3. Evaluate these theories and arguments critically.
  4. Develop their own views and arguments through consideration and analysis of the views and arguments presented in the course.
  5. Engage constructively and respectfully with the views and arguments of others, even if they disagree with them.
$192 Limited / $173

<p>How does ‘hope’ influence our actions, and can it be our moral guide? Compare the following statements with each other: “I hope Coronavirus will end”; “I believe Coronavirus will end”; and “I know

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10 Aug

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