Emotion in Action: Hope's Role in Practical Deliberation
- Author(s): Bobier, CHRISTOPHER Alan
- Advisor(s): Kent, Bonnie
- et al.
Aristotle writes in the Rhetoric that “no one deliberates concerning things that are not hoped for” (Rhet 2.5.1383a3-8). According to this passage, whenever a person deliberates over something, for instance, how to get to work on time, that person must experience hope. If the person did not experience hope that she could get to work on time, then she could not deliberate. In this dissertation I examine the history and present-day plausibility of Aristotle’s claim.
In the first two chapters of the dissertation, I argue that Thomas Aquinas and Thomas Hobbes, two otherwise very different philosophers, agree that hope motivates and sustains practical deliberation. My goal in these chapters is to recover the different accounts given by Aquinas and Hobbes of exactly what hope is and how it figures in deliberation in order to advance our understanding of the historical significance of the emotion of hope. I argue that for Aquinas, modest hope may motivate more careful and attentive deliberation, and for Hobbes, that hope figures constitutively in Hobbesian deliberation. In the third chapter I combine the conceptual insights of the preceding historical chapters with present-day psychological research. Depression manifests itself in a global, agency-reducing way, one that renders action and deliberation more difficult, if not impossible. Depressed persons often report that they find it difficult to think, deliberate, and act on account of their hopeless, depressed mood. Abundant empirical research suggests that hope moderates depression: the more one hopes, the less likely that person is to experience depressive symptoms. Since depression is marked by a profound hopelessness and pronounced difficulty in action and decision-making, this suggests that hope facilitates action in non-depressed persons. I argue that hope motivates and sustains practical deliberation by setting its ends.