Good Hope and Happiness in Plato and Aristotle Restricted; Files Only

Culbreth, Andrew (Spring 2020)

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While Plato and Aristotle, like their predecessors, are aware of the dangers of hope, they nevertheless distinguish a kind of hope that is both beneficial and necessary for living well. This dissertation explains the nature and effects of good hope as a positive emotion in their moral psychologies. I argue that for Plato and Aristotle, hope is crucial for having the right relationship to death, to courage, and to wisdom. Moreover, hope—in the form of what I call “aspirational hope”—is an essential motivating force in moral and intellectual development.

The first chapter presents the ambivalent and often negative view of hope in pre-Platonic Greek writing: I show that the early Greek suspicion of hope often owes to their largely pessimistic view of the ability of mortals to improve their conditions. The remaining chapters of the dissertation explain how Plato and Aristotle either depart from, or expand upon, the views of their predecessors by distinguishing a variety of good hope and tying it to virtuous forms of agency. The second chapter argues that Plato’s Apology presents reasons why we ought to be hopeful regarding death: Socrates’ hope both reinforces his resolve to act virtuously when his life is in danger and reaffirms his commitment to living the examined life. The third chapter argues that Plato’s Phaedo integrates good hope into the philosophical life because hope motivates philosophers to cultivate of wisdom. The fourth chapter offers an account of the positive role of hope in Aristotle’s conception of proper confidence, and I argue that this account allows us to explain how, in Aristotle’s theory, someone can simultaneously be courageous (as opposed to merely continent) and experience the fear of pain or death. The fifth and final chapter studies the implications of Aristotle’s views of hope for his theory of moral development: I argue that aspirational hope helps learners of virtue to emulate virtuous individual and to transform into good people.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Chapter 1. The Depiction and Evaluation of Elpis in Pre-Platonic Greek Literature 31

Chapter 2. Socratic Hope in the Face of Death: Plato’s Apology 75

Chapter 3. Good Hope and the Cultivation of Wisdom: Plato’s Phaedo 129

Chapter 4. Aristotle on the Role of Hope in the Virtue of Courage 164

Chapter 5. Aspirational Hope in Aristotle’s Account of Moral Development 197

Conclusion 232

Bibliography 238

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