Session 4: In-Between Hope and Despair
Chair: Mariangela Marcello
Consistency of the Optimism-Pessimism Variable; the Role of Emotions
School of Education, Bar-Ilan University, Israel
Three different theoretical frameworks of optimism-pessimism (hereunder OP) constitute the basis for this study; the Dispositional Optimism, the Hope Theory, and the OP Explanatory Style. Analysis of the similarities and the differences between these theories reveals subtle differences that might lead to one unified theory. Within this theory two objectives were investigated: (a) the measure OP’s stability in the different content domains, and (b) the measure of consistency between the cognitive OP expectancies (hereunder, plausibility) and the positive-negative emotions.
244 participants of various ages (M= 35.97; SD = 18.35) completed two questionnaires: (1) An upgrade of existing questionnaires (2) A questionnaire to assess 5 events; 3 of high personal involvement for the individual (expected surgery), and 2 of low personal involvement (National economic situation).
The results of the study show that:
- The OP variable is composed of two separate factors: one of high personal involvement, and the second of low personal involvement. In each of them the stability in the various content domains (cross-domain) is maintained;
- Lower plausibility-emotions correlation is found in high personal involvement than in low personal involvement.
- In events of high personal involvement a high positive correlation is found between the emotions and the OP grade. However, in events with low personal involvement, the correlation between emotions and OP grade is positive, but significantly lower.
The results emphasize the role of the emotions as one of the sources of information processing for the OP evaluation. High Emotional impact provides different information processing than low emotional impact.
In-between Hope and Despair: Notes on the Dialectic Hermeneutics of ‘Being’
Department of Philosophy, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
If ever the dialectical relation in-between hope and despair has been one of the most designative questions within critical continental philosophy, existentialist and hermeneutical readings of ‘being’ should be mentioned as the complementary point of interests on the very perception of ‘thinkability’ and ‘Reality’ within this query. Dialectical interpretation of hope and despair, accordingly, can not be separated from its reflexive dynamics on the understanding of ‘the political’ today. This paper posits its major emphasis on three critical questions: (i) The question of the thinkability and Hegelian ‘necessity’ of hope and despair within the dialectical identification and alienation of ‘selfness’ and ‘otherness’, (ii) Critical ‘perception’ of subjective-objective Reality in the course of modern ‘human condition’, (iii) Possible contributions of the ‘thinkability of despair and hope’ on the agonistic and hermeneutical reinterpretation of today’s politics. Via the critical reading of Kant, Hegel, and Bloch’s perspectives on the ‘thinkability’ and ‘reality’ of hope and despair, this paper intends to interpenetrate such categories within the dialectic entirety of ‘being’. Accordingly, this paper aims to provide a hermeneutical reinterpretation of hope and despair with reference to the conceptions of ‘weak thought’, ‘weak identity’ and ‘hermeneutic politics’.
The Challenge of Distinguishing between Hope and Despair
Department of Philosophy, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Haifa, Israel
According to a widely accepted view, hope may be understood as desire conjoined with assessment of probability: A person hopes that some event e will occur if, and only if, the person (1) desires that e will occur, and (2) believes that e‘s occurrence is likely to some degree (a clear and detailed statement of this view is found in Day 1969).
I wish to argue that this Standard Conception of the nature of hope cannot be correct because the features of hope it points to are often found in instances of despair. Thus, a person may change from despair to hope (or vice versa) even if there are no changes in her desires or assessments of likelihood. Similarly, two people may be exactly similar in respect of their desires and assessments of likelihood, and yet one will hope, whereas the other will despair. This means that the Standard Conception fails to capture what is distinctive about hope, what it is in general that distinguishes instances of hope from instances of the opposite attitude of despair.
As for recent accounts which reject the Standard Conception, claiming that conditions (1) and (2) are not jointly sufficient for hope, or at least for so called ‘substantial’ hope (Bovens 1999; Pettit 2004), I shall argue that they too fail to point to features which might distinguish in general between instances of hope and instances of despair.
My proposed alternative account focuses on the manner in which both hope and despair involve an acknowledgment that factors beyond one’s causal and epistemic reach determine whether the desired event will occur. Hope involves a form of trust of these external factors (whether or not they are conceived in personal terms), which is lacking in the case of despair.