Choose a topic from Part 2A:

40. Hope and Dispair

1. Hope is an irascible passion. It is the looking forward to a good to come, not simply but with awareness that the good thing may not be attained, or at least that it will take effort to attain it. Now, all irascible passion presupposes concupiscible passion. Hope presupposes desire; we wish or long for a thing before we hope to attain it; and desire and hope are passions specifically distinct.

2. Hope is an appetite; it is not a knowing power. It is a power for tending towards, or striving after, what is known as good, in the face of delay or difficulty.

3. In man alone, of earthly creatures, does true hope exist. Animals, indeed, have a kind of hope, a sensitive tendency towards "future good to be attained with effort or by overcoming difficulty." The dog chasing a rabbit, hopes to catch it. Even plants and lifeless things, by striving to fulfill their natural tendencies in spite of what would repress or defeat them, manifest a kind of hope. We may say that a plant, growing in unsuitable soil and with insufficient sunlight, is hopefully striving to survive. But the tendency of quasi hope, implanted naturally in things by their Creator, is not hope in the sense of an understanding tendency consciously exercised in the effort to achieve a possible (future) good. Hope, in this meaning of the word, is found in man only among earthly creatures.

4. Despair is the opposite of hope; it is the contrary of hope. Despair is not the mere absence of hope; it is the surrender or withdrawal of hope in a situation in which a desired good is considered unattainable.

5. Hope looks to a future good, difficult but possible to attain. Hope is caused by whatever makes a difficult goal really or apparently accessible. Experience can be such a cause of hope, for experience may make a man realize that he can do what he once thought impossible. On the other hand, experience may make a man realize that he cannot do what he once believed he could do. Thus experience can be the cause either of hope or of despair.

6. Whatever stirs up confidence and lends assurance in the face of difficulties, may be called a cause of hope. Youth is such a cause. Even drunkenness is such a cause, for a man who has had too much to drink is likely to be expansive, self-confident, and hopeful of doing what, in sober moments, he would not even attempt. Similarly,foolhardiness and thoughtlessness may be causes of hope.

7. Love can cause hope. We hope only for what we desire and love. Our hope for good to come to us through another person makes us love that person. Thus love begets hope, and hope begets love.

8. Hope is a notable help to action; it gives to action intensity and earnestness. And hope causes pleasure; and we have already seen that pleasure is an aid to operation.

"Every man naturally desires knowledge; but what good is knowledge without fear of God? Indeed a humble rustic who serves God is better than a proud intellectual who neglects his soul to study the course of the stars."
Thomas á Kempis

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"Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul, and he who concerns himself about other things than those which lead to salvation is very unwise. "
Thomas á Kempis

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"Many words do not satisfy the soul; but a good life eases the mind and a clean conscience inspires great trust in God."
Thomas á Kempis

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