Hope is the expectation of the good, the realization of the desired. In antiquity, there was no single conception of the value meaning of hope (ἐλπίς). The negative value of hope was because it was perceived as an illusion, a voluntary self-deception. However, from the notion of illusion, it was not always concluded that hope is evil; often she acted as a consolation (“A Promised Prometheus” by Aeschylus) – as a means, although not capable of taking away the blows of fate, but relieving the person of suffering caused by the expectation of the inevitable. The value of illusory hope-consolation was debunked, in particular, in stoicism, according to which deceptive hope leads to despair, while the main thing for a person is to remain courageous in the face of any vicissitudes of fate. The neutral meaning of the concept is revealed as the expectation of an event, which from the value point of view can be both good and bad. According to Plato, good and right-minded people have true and achievable hopes, the bad and the unreasonable are false and unrealizable. With this interpretation, there is also an understanding of hope as a positive value (a fair reward for virtuous life), which was established in antiquity in the fact that hope was depicted on coins, and there was its cult worship (spes) in ancient Rome.
In Christianity, hope is treated exclusively as a positive value. Although it is assumed that the objects of hope may be various (including material) blessings, it sees a sign of the person’s belonging not to earth life, but to eternity; its main content is the hope of a just judgment of Christ and salvation (Messianic hope). In this capacity, hope is regarded as one of the fundamental virtues along with faith and charity. The most common view is that hope in comparison with other theological virtues is of lesser significance. For the apostle Paul, “love is greater than them,” for love abides forever, in faith and hope, the need is lost when the Kingdom of God becomes a fact. In God Himself there is no faith, no hope, and there is only love. At the highest stage of his development, a Christian pleases God, not because of the hope of receiving in the future life eternal bliss for “good deeds,” but only out of love for God.
The concept of hope occupies a significant place in the moral philosophy of I. Kant. According to Kant, the highest good (the philosophical equivalent of the concept of the Kingdom of God) is made up of two elements – virtue (morality) and happiness, between which there is objective tension: the moral law does not contain the necessary foundation for the connection between morality and happiness. The perfect realization of virtue and the attainment of happiness commensurate with virtue are incomprehensible to reason and can only be a matter of hope. As conditions for the possibility of the highest good and the grounds for the hope of achieving it, Kant calls freedom, the immortality of the soul and the existence of God. The postulate of freedom follows from the need to allow the ability to determine the will according to the laws of the intelligible world, the postulate of the immortality of the soul – from the necessity of the condition “the proportionality of the duration of existence with fullness in the fulfillment of the moral law.” Thanks to the postulate of the existence of God, it is possible to hope for the realization of the highest good in its entirety – achieving a measure of happiness commensurate with morality. Hope, like fear, can not be, according to Kant, a moral motive: as a principle of doing, it is destructive for its moral value.
The ancient and Christian ideas about hope and their very foundations have become a subject of rethinking for modern authors. Thus, A.Camyu, sharing the ancient view of hope as an illusion, voluntary self-deception, believes that understanding her as a value is possible only within the framework of religious and philosophical consciousness, which attributes to the world a sense and basis. According to the logic of this consciousness, if one does not hope for an understanding of the world and salvation in it, then one should give up life. Such a worldview Camus discovers, not only in the Christian and New European ways of thinking but also in existentialism. The only way for a person who finally realized his belonging to the absurd is in life without hope of understanding and salvation, which is always identical with illusion. Hope in modern philosophy is contrasted with hopelessness as the absence of any deception (J. Batay). Hope-illusion is only a pretext for avoiding the solution of the meaning-life dilemmas in the world of dreams (DD Runes).
At the basis of the ancient and modern understanding of hope as an illusion, according to P. Riker, lies the worldview of the “eternal present.” He sees the reason for the rejection of hope in this tradition in recognizing the priority of necessity. An adequate understanding of hope, in his opinion, is possible only in theology and philosophy, having an eschatological dimension. In the context of eschatological theology, Ricoeur connects the concept of hope with the concepts of resurrection and freedom. To know the resurrection of Christ is to join the hope of resurrection from the dead. E. Bloch, while creating a philosophy of hope, relied on the teaching of K. Marx, which he himself considered an act of hope, because, unlike the previous philosophy oriented to the past and proceeding from the realization of the ideal of perfection, Marxism orientates towards achieving universal perfection in the future. The success of the world process in this movement is determined, according to Bloch, by a hope recognized as an attribute of being, aspiration for the future or the initial form of expression of “hunger” – the driving force leading to a change in the world. E. Fromm, substantiating the positive value of hope in the non-religious context and indirectly objecting to its identification with illusion, on the contrary, emphasizes on the indispensable rootedness of hope in the present. The object of hope, in his opinion, is the state of being, and Fromm considers one of the main forms of alienation of hope (worship of the “future”, “descendants”, “progress”, etc.) a passive expectation of the achievement of being-fullness in the far future. It is passive trust that takes the man away from his activity and responsibility for his life, but hope requires action and achievement of goals. Therefore, it relies on a special kind of knowledge of reality – “the vision of the present, fraught with the future,” which Fromm calls rational faith, or the ability to see the essence of phenomena. The linking of hope with the present makes it more effective also because it protects from another form of alienation – which ignores the reality of adventurism.
On the contrary, in religious-philosophical arguments about hope, the inherent element of irrationality is especially emphasized. Thus, Ricoeur emphasizes that the logic of hope is the logic of redundancy, since the object of hope not only does not have prerequisites in the present but also is opposed to the present-existence “under the sign of the cross and death.” Some philosophers explain the irrationality of hope by the fact that “the transformability of possibility into reality” is often postulated in it against the arguments of reason. The other side of the irrationality of hope is its correlation with freedom. According to Riker, hope is correlated with the freedom to deny death. According to Levitsky, hope is a manifestation of freedom, because it represents “the postulation of a certain good possibility as subjectively necessary to be realized”; deprived of hope, deprived and freedom.
The notion of hope as a positive value includes the assertion of its effectiveness in the personal, social and cosmic aspects (CS Lewis, Ricoeur). Bloch believed that hope is oriented towards the realization of the highest good as the triumph of communism and the Kingdom of Freedom, where any contradictions in human existence are overcome and a person becomes immortal. Fromm, hope, as the main characteristic of being, is directed at the active transformation by man and society of “terrestrial” reality in the direction of its “greater vitality”.