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.