Secular hopes in the face of death

In Rochelle Green (ed.), Theories of Hope: Exploring Alternative Affective Dimensions of Human Experience. Lexington Press (2018)
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Abstract

Many religions offer hope for a life that transcends death and believers find great comfort in this. Non-believers typically do not have such hopes. In the face of death, they may find consolation in feeling contented with the life they have lived. But do they have hopes? I will identify a range of distinctly secular hopes at the end of life. Nothing stops religious people from sharing these secular hopes, in addition to their hope for eternal life. I will distinguish between hopes about one’s life, hopes about one’s death, hopes about attitudes of others, and hopes about the future. But before turning to these hopes, I will reflect on the following question: What is it that would keep a person from hoping for eternal life?

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Luc Bovens
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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