Kierkegaard defines more explicitly what it means to hope in a Christian sense in Works of Love. Christianly understood, 'hope is composed of the eternal and the temporal', which means that its task is both to hope all things (the expression for its eternal aspect) and to hope always (the expression for its temporal aspect), which together express the same thing: 'at every moment always to hope all things' (WL 249). The only point at which the eternal, which simply is and thus not subject to temporal becoming, can be present in or intersect with the temporal realm is in the future, for otherwise a meeting in the present, which is so fleeting that it does not actually exist or is already past, would then be the eternal.22 In relation to time, then, the eternal is the future or the possible, which is always a duality, containing both 'the possibility of advance or of retrogression, of rising or falling, of good or of evil' (249). We relate to the possible through expectation, which contains the same duality as the possible, so that what one expects depends upon a choice between these two equal but opposite possibilities. To hope, Kierkegaard says, is 'To relate oneself expectantly to the possibility of the good', which is the eternal (249). Hope is therefore different from temporal expectancy, which is not really hope, even though it is commonly called that, but 'a wish, a longing, a longing expectation now of one thing, now of another, in short, an expectant person's relationship to the possibility of multiplicity' (250). This sort of expectancy is particularly associated with
22 On the present or instant in Kierkegaard's early pseudonymous writings, see Kangas (2007).
youth, which is full of expectation and possibility and then declines as we become older and settle into a life of 'dull repetition and paraphrasing of the same old thing' (250-1). 'Without the eternal', Kierkegaard observes, 'one lives with the help of habit, sagacity, aping, experience, custom, and usage', from which one may get a variety of things but not the possibility of the good or hope (251). Authentic hope is not associated with a certain age or period of life but extends over the whole of life, so that one's whole life is a time of hope, and 'anyone who refuses to understand that', he adds, 'is veritably in despair.. .whether he is conscious of it or not' (252).
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