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He said it: Atheist Julian Baggini on living without hope

File:A small cup of coffee.JPG In “Hope against hope” (New Humanist, July/August 2012), British philosopher Julian Baggini offers,

Indeed, Sam Harris suggested to me that without hope we might be more at peace. “Hope and fear are completely natural responses to uncertainty. But they are two sides of the same coin: if we would be free of fear, we must let go of hope. Easier said than done, of course. But it is possible. And being without hope is by no means synonymous with despair. Rather, it is tranquility.”

The idea that we need hope much less, if at all, was confirmed to me in the conversation with Warburton and Haynes, when her mother, who had joined us after our event, volunteered the idea that “Hope surely just is that every day is astonishing in its own right. When you get to my age you do begin to think somewhat about death and what seems to me extraordinary is that I have had life.” I told her that seemed right to me, except that I wouldn’t call that hope. In a way, it’s better than hope. It’s not hope for things that might happen but appreciation for and delight in what you have. Hope is of its nature directed at the future, but often we would do better to focus on a nearer horizon.

Warburton distilled the thought. “There’s something better than hope, which is not to postpone everything but to focus on what’s going on now.” My hope is that thoughts like these can supersede hope.

Hope on. It could maybe work if one is well off. But many people, through no fault of their own, have lives that don’t bear thinking about in the present day.

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One Response to He said it: Atheist Julian Baggini on living without hope

  1. “Hope and fear are completely natural responses to uncertainty. But they are two sides of the same coin: if we would be free of fear, we must let go of hope. Easier said than done, of course. But it is possible. And being without hope is by no means synonymous with despair. Rather, it is tranquility.”

    Interesting! This sounds a lot like Buddhism where the goal is to get rid of suffering. Suffering comes from unfulfilled desires so the object is to desire nothing. It may help you get rid of suffering if you have no desires, but it also robs you of all our good emotions and desires.

    Eliminating fear and hope is NOT the way to tranquility and neither is seeking to eliminate all desires the way to eliminate suffering.

    These are counterfeit teachings that rob us of the joys God intends us to have. Yes, it also means that we are open to suffering and perhaps fear, although I don’t get that connection quite yet, but it is worth it. To love is a risk and yet love is a good thing. I believe one can have hope and at the same time focus on the present. In fact, hope can be a very motivating thing for living in the present. For instance, a person lost in the jungle, motivated by the hope and desire to see his loved ones again, fights off starvation, eats insects, and makes an incredible journey out of the jungle.

    Hope and love are good gifts from God that the enemy would be happy to steal from us. Don’t listen to the lies!

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