What is it to lose hope?

This paper addresses the phenomenology of hopelessness. I distinguish two broad kinds of predicament that are easily confused: ‘loss of hopes’ and ‘loss of hope’. I argue that not all hope can be characterised as an intentional state of the form ‘I hope that p’. It is possible to lose all hopes of that kind and yet retain another kind of hope. The hope that remains is not an intentional state or a non-intentional bodily feeling. Rather, it is a ‘pre-intentional’ orientation or ‘existential feeling’, by which I mean something in the context of which certain kinds of intentional state, including intentional hope, are intelligible. I go on to discuss severe depression, lack of aspiration, demoralisation and loss of trust in the world, in order to distinguish some qualitatively different forms that loss of hope can take
Keywords Demoralisation  Depression  Existential feeling  Hopelessness  Pre-intentional emotion  Radical hope
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DOI 10.1007/s11097-011-9215-1
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Matthew Ratcliffe (2004). Realism, Biologism and 'the Background'. Philosophical Explorations 7 (2):149 – 166.

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