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An Argument from Hope

P1) Hope is a virtue.

P2) If God does not exist, hope is not a virtue.

C) God exists.

Defense of P1: Hope is a habit of the will by which one desires a good and expects to receive it.  As in many virtues, hope is a mean between extremes, as one can desire a good in a disordered way (too much or too little in relation to other things, good or bad), and ones expectations can be too high or too low for evidential reasons.  Hope, then, involves achieving a mean in both what one desires and what one expects, which shows that there is a certain state of character that admits of a mean between extremes that tends towards our good.  There are goods that we can appropriately desire, and which we can reasonably expect to obtain.  So hope is a virtue.

Defense of P2:  Schopenhauer is right, and Nietzsche is wrong.  If there is no God, there is no external, objective, and ultimate source of meaning, i.e. there is no global meaning and any local attempts at meaning is futile.  Pessimism is the appropriate expectation, and hope is, therefore, a vicious extreme. Likewise, no good is all that good in the long run, so one should not desire any good more than non-existence, which the anti-natalist philosopher, David Benatar, notes is at least “not-bad”.  The “not-badness” of non-existence outweighs the minor goods found in existence when they are stacked along side the immense amount of suffering and misery life doles out.  Therefore, even if there is a minor good that one might reasonably expect, hope is still vicious because, on the whole, one is desiring a good disproportionately, when one should favor the blessings of non-existence, once one has truly weighed out everything.  As Schopenhauer writes:

Again, you may look upon life as an unprofitable episode, disturbing the blessed calm of non-existence.  And, in any case, even though things have gone with you tolerably well, the longer you live the more clearly you will feel that life is a disappointment, nay, a cheat…” (On the Sufferings of the World, 1851).

What about Nietzsche and Russell?  Both admit that with atheism, there is no ultimate sort of meaning.  But Nietzsche resists the pessimistic implication by supposing that we can invent meaning from within.  Can this be done while also recognizing that this meaning is subjectively invented?  Can one fall for an illusion while also noting that it is an illusion?  Russell writes:

…[A]lthough it is of course gloomy view to suppose that life will die out—at least I suppose we may say so, although sometimes when I contemplate the things that people do with their lives I think it is almost a consolation—it is not such as to render life miserable (Why I am not A Christian, 1927).

Almost a consolation?  We can be a “Pollyanna” and turn our attention to local goals, but in the end, we know that these goods and ultimate justifications cannot make hope, the expectation and desire of goods, a mean between extremes.  Virtuous hope, in a godless world, is impossible because it would be based the illusory belief that our invented meaning is better than it really is, or that, in the long run, the illusion that we can reasonable to expect such goods for any decent amount of time into our brief and decrepit future.  Hope, in a godless world, becomes the vice of presumption, where desires and expectations are not aligned with the reality of the situation.

But then again, hope really is a virtue, so given the validity of the argument, God exists.

Vexing Links (8/5/2016)

Apologies for the hiatus. I am hoping to put some arguments out there soon. But in the meantime, here are some links of note:

1. My Ph.D. dissertation is now on ProQuest.

2. My review of Modality & Explanatory Reasoning by Boris Kment was recently published by the Polish Journal of Philosophy.

3. I’m currently reading Structure and the Metaphysics of Mind: How Hylomorphism Solves the Mind-Body Problem by William Jaworski.  I’m hoping to do a presentation on hylomorphism this fall, so this will really help.

4. Wisecrack has some great videos on the Philosophy of  Daredevil, and the Philosophy of the Joker.

5.  Looking forward to the Ultimate Game of Thrones and Philosophy, especially as it will feature contributions from Max Andrews and Tyler Dalton McNabb.

6. Dale Tuggy interview Timothy Pawl on Trinities Podcast: Pt 1 and P2.

7. Appropriate for our current political climate, the SEP has a new article out on the Ethics and Rationality of Voting.

8.  Illustrates the problem of semantics for AI: the Domino Computer.

9. The History of Philosophy without any Gaps has some great recent podcasts on the Trinity: Episodes 258 and  259.

10. Justin Brierley of the Unbelievable? Podcast explains the argument from Fine-Tuning.

Vexing Links (12/27/2015)

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year to Vexing Questions readers.  Here are some links of note:

  1. has released its latest video in its series on the existence of God: the Leibnizian Cosmological Argument (view the other videos in the series here)
  2. The Church of England released a beautiful ad featuring the Lord’s Prayer.  It was banned and created some controversy, but it is moving nonetheless.
  3. Dr. Lee Irons does a great job defending the Trinitarian perspective in a new book.  Here is an interview about his defense, hosted by Dale Tuggy.
  4. The SEP has some new articles and revisions of note: Thomas Williams revises an entry on St. Anselm, Olga Lizzini has a new article on Ibn Sina’s Metaphysics, and Jeffery Bower revises an entry on Medieval Theories of Relations.
  5. Some music I’ve been enjoying: Timothy Vajda’s As the Crow Flies, and Sigur Rós’s version of the Rains of Castamere.
  6. great philosophy website, with videos on logic.
  7. Brilliant physicist, George Ellis, is interviewed on Closer to Truth about What An Expanding Universe Means.
  8. Grasped in Thought blogs about Gaunilo’s failed objection to Anselm’s ontological argument.
  9. Maverick Philosopher has a beautiful Christmas reflection on the meaning of  the Incarnation and John 1:14.
  10. Dr. Alexander Pruss offers an interesting argument about physicalism and thinking about big numbers.