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January 16th. Hope.

What is the Triumph of Hope over Experience? I ask the Owner.

It is what the Moral Dog feels whilst I eat my breakfast, says the Owner.

It is Days since you have given me Cheese, I say.

Exactly, says the Owner, the Moral Dog has proved Allergic.

Does this mean the Moral Dog can Never have Cheese? I ask.

Let’s hope not, says the Owner. As Alexander Pope said, Hope Springs Eternal.

What is the point of Hope Springing Eternal? I ask. Could it not just Spring Occasionally, when it has a chance of Getting what it Wants?

That, says the Owner, it Depends if you Value Hope for its own Sake, or only for what it may Bring. Immanuel Kant saw Hope as Happiness, although Schopenhauer saw it as a Folly of the Heart.

I expect Schopenhauer was Allergic to Cheese, I say.

This seems Possible, says the Owner, as I have always felt him to be Rather a Misery. Schopenhauer saw the Human Condition as a Frustrating and Fundamentally Flawed one. He suggests that we seek to overcome the tragedy of our existence with Achievements like Art, rather than Relying on Hope. Schopenhauer regarded Hope as a Kind of Indigestion.

I feel a certain sympathy for Schopenhauer, I say, but was he suggesting the Moral Dog should Eschew Cheese for Oil Painting? I ask.

He may have been, says the Owner, he was not a Reasonable Man. Although there is a Llama who has Exhibited at the National Gallery.

That is Ridiculous, I say. The Moral Dog is no more likely to Excel at Oil Painting than to Abandon the Love of Cheese.

There may be a Moral Purpose to Hope, says the Owner. In Hesiod’s version of the Tale of Pandora, when all the Evils had escaped from Pandora’s jar, only Hope remained. Hesiod suggests that Hope can sustain Moral Agency in the fact of Widespread Evil. Aristotle saw Confidence itself as the Mark of a Hopeful Disposition.

I don’t see the point of such a Disposition if one is Allergic to Cheese, I say sorrowfully.

Perhaps not, says the Owner, but imagine if One always gave up Hope when there was still a Chance. One would not want Widespread Evil to Triumph.

I am not sure how we got from Cheese to Widespread Evil, I say. I suspect the Owner is attempting to divert me from the Scone. Surely, like the French at Dienbienphu, one sometimes has to Recognise Inevitable Defeat.

Not necessarily, says the Owner, since things do not become Inevitable until After they have been Possible and Probable. Thomas Aquinas suggested that Hope is both Knowledge of the Possible and Knowledge of the Difficulties in Attaining It. One might say that Hope is a Matter of Working towards the Improbable in order to Overcome the Terrible for the sake of the Possible. Imagine if Aragorn had Given Up at the Gates of Mordor.

So in Hoping for Cheese the Moral Dog may Advance the Defeat of Widespread Evil? I ask, Evil Encapsulating such matters as Supercilious Ducks, the Power of Mordor and the Terrible Frondiness of Seaweed?

Hope may be Essential to the Motivation of Moral Beings, says the Owner. Even Insurmountable Odds are only Odds. A Million to One Chance will, after all, materialise One in a Million Times.

Terry Pratchett said that a Million to One chance succeeds Nine times out of Ten, I say, eyeing the Scone. Aragorn would definitely say it is Worth a Shot.

On Your Head be it, says the Owner, handing me half of her Scone.

Later I experience Cheese Consequences of Ecological Proportions. Apparently this is the Triumph of Experience over Hope.

We have ordered Oil Paints.

Categories: cheese dignity dog dog philosophy

Hergest the Hound

I am a dog of many thoughts.

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