Thursday, February 25, 2016

Harder Hopes

How to Hope:
Extreme Hope

            We can be said to hope for something if we desire it and we think it is possible.  By “possible” we mean that something is neither (a) certain, nor (b) impossible.  To illustrate: (a) In 2016 it makes no sense for someone to hope that Barak Obama be elected president.  He already is president.  No one hopes that tomorrow bachelors will be unmarried.  We do not hope for something that has already occurred or something that is a necessary truth. (b) A person who never buys a lottery ticket may fantasize about winning the lottery, but since it is impossible for him to win he cannot hope to win.
            The prior paragraph explains what Adrienne Martin calls the “orthodox” definition of hope.  On this definition, hope = desire + probability judgment, where the probability of the thing hoped for lies somewhere between 0 and 1.  And that’s all there is to it, according to a great many philosophers in the modern period.
            But that cannot be all there is to it, objects Martin.  If the orthodox definition of hope were adequate, we would all be wise to trim our hopes to fit probabilities.  If you let your hopes ride on a long shot, you will quite likely be disappointed.  For example, Simon Critchley, professor of philosophy at the New School for Social Research, advised us to “abandon (nearly) all hope” when we think about social and political matters. Critchley recalls 2008 candidate Obama’s proclamation of “audacious hope” and advises against it: “The problem here is with the way in which this audacious Promethean theological idea of hope has migrated into our national psyche to such an extent that it blinds us to the reality of the world…” Critchley concludes that we should limit our hopes to those that are realistic. 
            Against this, Martin urges us to consider the phenomenon of “hoping against hope,” cases in which the probability of the desired outcome is very low.  I will call these cases of “extreme” hope.  If hope is simply desire for some outcome combined with the belief that the outcome is possible, why is it that people who have the same desire for an outcome and the same belief about its likelihood can have very different levels of hope? The defender of the orthodox definition might suggest that the person with greater hope somehow has stronger desires for the good outcome or surreptitiously assigns a higher probability to it.  Martin gives good reasons to suppose these answers are insufficient.
            Martin invites us to consider two terminal cancer patients, Alan and Bess. They both recognize that the experimental drug offered to them has an extremely low chance of success.  But Alan hopes only a little or not at all.  Bess hopes strongly.  How should we explain the difference between them?  Is Bess somehow deceiving herself about the odds?  Does Bess desire life more than Alan?  Even if one of these options could explain a particular case, would this be true in every case?  Should we conclude that there is something wrong with Bess’s hope?  It seems that the difference between Bess’s hope and Alan’s hope cannot be explained only using desire and probability judgment as variable.  Cases of extreme hope show that something else is going on.
The solution, says Martin, is to see that hope is more than just “desire” plus a probability judgment.  After all, what do we mean by “desire”?  What is going on in Bess’s life when she hopes?  Martin proposes a syndrome analysis: hope is a syndrome of feelings, thoughts, perceptions, and motivations aimed at an outcome judged to be good and possible (neither impossible nor certain).
            Martin invites us to consider Andy, in The Shawshank Redemption. Andy and his friend, Red, are convicts in the Shawshank prison.  Red warns Andy explicitly against the dangers of hope.  “Let me tell you something, my friend.  Hope is a dangerous thing.  Hope can drive a man insane.” If you hope, you get crushed.  Red’s advice mirrors the advice of modern philosophers like Critchley.  Against Red’s advice, Andy hopes to escape from prison. 
            Martin offers her “incorporation analysis” as alternative to the orthodox definition.  We need to see that there are two judgments made by the person who hopes.  In the cancer case, Bess does not deceive herself into thinking the drug has a greater chance of success.  Hope is not the same as wishful thinking.  When we estimate the likelihood that our desired outcomes will occur, Martin says we ought to make our judgments in accord with ordinary standards of reason and evidence.  However, the fact that the desired outcome is improbable does not imply that one cannot hope for it. Instead, the person who hopes then makes a second, practical, judgment.  The person who hopes sees that the desired outcome is important to her.  On the basis of these two judgments—that the desired outcome is possible, and that it is important—the person who hopes “licenses” herself to build a syndrome of hope.  Thus, Martin says to hope for an outcome has four parts:

1.     Be attracted to the outcome in virtue of certain of its features;
2.     Assign a probability between and exclusive of 0 and 1 to the outcome;
3.     Adopt a stance toward that probability whereby it licenses treating one’s attraction to the outcome (and the outcome’s attractive features) as a reason for certain ways of thinking, feeling, and/or planning with regard to the hoped-for outcome; and
4.     Treat one’s attraction and the outcome’s attractive features as sufficient reason for those ways of thinking, feeling, and/or planning.

Recall Andy in The Shawshank Redemption.  Andy’s hope is entirely consistent with a belief that successful escape is very unlikely.  Martin insists that hopeful people must judge the probability of their desired outcomes by ordinary standards of reason and evidence.  This is Martin’s point 2. 
But Andy’s thought process goes further, to a second judgment.  He recognizes that his hoped-for escape is a very important goal; in Martin’s words, he decides that his “attraction to the outcome (and the outcome’s attractive features)” is “a reason for certain ways of thinking, feeling, and/or planning.”  This is Martin’s point 3.
The first judgment, a judgment of probability, is governed by ordinary standards of reason and evidence.  The second judgment, a licensing judgment, is governed standards of practical rationality.  Practical judgments must take into account a person’s moral obligations, projects, relationships, abilities, and so on.  Given Andy’s situation—a life sentence for a crime he did not commit—the very low probability of escape can still function as organizing grounds for his hope.  He entertains certain thoughts.  He lets himself feel certain feelings.  He imagines certain future scenes.  He plans and executes certain actions.  In the story, Andy eventually escapes.  But the value of hope does not depend on this happy outcome.  Andy’s hope—a syndrome of thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and actions—sustained him through many years of imprisonment, and he would have enjoyed this benefit even if his escape failed in the end.  The moral of the story is expressed in Andy’s words to Red: “Remember, Red, hope is a good thing.  Maybe the best thing, and no good thing ever dies.”
Paraphrased, Martin’s position is something like this: hope, understood as an incorporation of a syndrome of thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and motivations into one’s life, can be rational, even in cases when the hoped for outcome is very unlikely. 
The incorporation thesis gives us advice about how to hope in extreme cases.  If the desired outcome is unlikely, one must not deceive oneself about that.  Judgments of probability must be governed by evidence.  But if a desired outcome is possible, a second judgment must be made.  What is the practical importance of the desired outcome to one’s life?  If, in extreme cases, one judges that the desired outcome is important enough, one can incorporate that hope into one’s life, letting the hope color one’s beliefs, attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors.

Copyright © 2016 by Philip D. Smith.
All rights reserved.  International copyright secured.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Back to the Hope Project

How to Hope:
Mundane Hope

            I’ve been working on the hope project for more than a year, having produced two papers for philosophy conferences and a growing list of short essays for Story and Meaning.  Eventually the project will culminate in a book.  At some point, readers (at least some of them) will ask: How can I hope? 
            It’s a good question.  I agree emphatically with Iris Murdoch, who criticized much 20th century moral philosophy by pointing to its abstraction and sterility.  Moral philosophers, she wrote, ought to ask how people might make themselves morally better.  If moral philosophy never helps us change, what good is it?  If hope is a virtue, how do I get it?
            A traditional Aristotelian answer says that virtues are acquired through habituation.  A young woman observes good people (almost all of Aristotle’s moral theorizing was directed to men, but we can generalize) and models her life on them.  There are several typical stages to the process.  At the beginning, it may be a significant step just to recognize good role models and desire to be like them.  There comes a stage, which Aristotle called akrasia, in which she desires to be like the good persons she admires but does not in fact act like them.  She “knows” the good but does not do it.  Then comes a stage in which through self-control she compels herself to copy the behaviors of good people.  Her immediate desires are not in accord with virtue, but her higher order desires triumph over them.  Eventually, though, by habituation, she discovers that what once was distasteful and hard has become second nature.  It is at this final stage that she truly exhibits the virtue and it may be said that virtue is easy.
            Now, I think there’s much right in this Aristotelian schema.  It emphasizes paying attention to exemplars, and it underscores the idea that moral progress typically takes time and effort.  So, as a preliminary answer to the question (How can I hope?), I endorse Aristotle’s advice.  Observe persons who hope well, and mimic them.
            Notice I just wrote: “hope well.”  That invites the idea that some people do not hope or hope poorly.  One needs to think critically about role models, including models of hope.  In Aristotelian terms, we need phronesis, “practical wisdom,” at every stage of virtue acquisition.  Phronesis is an intellectual virtue.  On Aristotle’s account, our pursuit of moral virtues is a rational pursuit.  By phronesis we recognize good models of hope and we train ourselves to be like them.
            I am persuaded by reading authors like Jonathan Lear, Michael Bishop, N.T. Wright, and Adrienne Martin that hope is a far more complicated concept than many thinkers recognize.  (Ironically, Bishop himself seems to think hope is simply a feeling or attitude; he misses the complexity of hope.  At the same time, his network theory of positive psychology provides a good explanation for why hope is so complex.)  I think Adrienne Martin rightly criticizes the “orthodox definition” of hope (orthodox among modern philosophers, that is) as being far too simplistic.
            Martin argues convincingly that hope is a “syndrome”: a combination of characteristic perceptions, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.  The syndrome idea coheres nicely with Bishop’s theory of positive psychology, i.e. that positive psychologists study “positive causal networks” and that such networks are composed of attitudes, traits, behaviors, and accomplishments.
            If hope is a complex concept—a “syndrome” or a “causal network”’—my initial Aristotelian advice may be correct and yet too simple.  The person who asks, “How can I hope?” may be facing any one of a number of difficulties.  A helpful answer will speak to the particular needs of the inquirer. 
            Imagine a parent locked in a seemingly perpetual war of words with her middle-school daughter.  Or a man facing a lay-off after sixteen years working what he had thought was a stable job.  Or a couple whose marriage has turned silent and cold and seems headed for dissolution.  These are all examples of what I will call mundane life crises.  By mundane I do not mean that such difficulties are mild or unimportant.  But they are ordinary and “earthly.”  We all know people enduring mundane problems; at one time or another, we all experience them.
            Mundane crises can bring a person to despair.  We feel trapped.  There is no way out—at least, we are tempted to think there is no way out.  Sometimes people become clinically depressed.  We don’t know what to do.  We feel hopeless.
            Such persons (and at one time or another we are all such persons) need mundane hope.  It is for such people that C.R. Snyder’s “Hope Therapy” was designed.  People who come for therapy have goals: the mother wants a peaceful relationship with her daughter, the man wants steady employment and income, and the couple wants to repair their marriage.  But something gets in the way, a “block”: hurtful words, a lay-off notice, fear of a spouse’s reaction.
            According to Snyder, hope consists in the combination of two things.  First, the patient needs to imagine “pathways” to reach the goal by getting around the block.  Second, the patient must perceive herself as being motivated to use the pathway.  Here’s a diagram:

(motivation) Protagonist -->  {BLOCK}  Goal

            I have already approved of Adrienne Martin’s syndrome analysis of hope, so it is clear that I think Snyder’s theory is too simplistic to fit all cases.  But we cannot deny the ample evidence that Snyder and his research colleagues have accumulated.  Hope therapy is effective in many cases.  By helping clients to think differently, hope therapy enables them to overcome despair, feel hopeful, and achieve positive outcomes in diverse areas of life: relationships, employment, sports, etc.
            Very often mundane hope is exactly what we want.  We feel hopeless when some circumstance of life, from the world around us or from within, blocks us from achieving our goals.  Snyder’s hope theory provides a straightforward way to increase mundane hope.  First, realize that you are able to invent practical paths to the goal.  Second, realize that you are motivated to use those paths.  These two realizations combine to make hope.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Contradictions and Conjunctions

Epistemic Humility

            Perhaps the costliest of all mistakes in thinking is to affirm a contradiction.  Most people recognize this intuitively.  What can a juror think when the person on the witness stand says he saw the accused commit the crime and that he did not see the accused commit the crime?  Common sense is flummoxed by such blatant self-contradiction.  So we almost never hear it.  Instead, the witness may say he saw the accused commit the crime and later, under close questioning, admit that he was in no position to see the crime.  The attorney examining the witness would then draw the contradiction to the attention of the jurors, confident that they would disregard testimony that contradicts itself.
            Formal logic demonstrates exactly how bad self-contradiction really is.  Suppose someone affirms a contradiction; say, for example, “Orange juice contains vitamin C and orange juice does not contain vitamin C.”  We would symbolize this as follows.
1.     O + ~O
Proposition 1 is a self-contradiction.  It is necessarily false.  But what happens if someone affirms it?  How about this: “Phil is President of the United States”?  We would symbolize this as P.  Given the self-contradiction in 1, it is easy to prove P:
1.     O + ~O     /therefore P
2.     O               from 1, by “simplification” (a basic rule of logic: if p+q, then p)
3.     ~O                        from 1, by simplification again
4.     O v P         from 2, by “addition” (another basic rule: if p, then p or q)
5.     P                from 4 and 3, by “disjunctive syllogism” (p or q, but not p, so q)

Given an explicit contradiction it follows that I am President.  Of course, this isn’t the only bizarre conclusion that follows from a self-contradiction.  Given an explicit self-contradiction, any proposition whatever follows with deductive necessity.  People who affirm self-contradictions imply the truth of every possible proposition.
Someone might say: “Okay, so what?  Common sense and logic both condemn self-contradictions.  Let’s all avoid contradicting ourselves and move on to something more interesting.”
But there is a problem: all sane people believe at least one implicit contradiction.  “Really?  How so?” you might ask.  The reason is that our beliefs do not obey the rules of logic.  Remember that some weeks ago in Story and Meaning I published this little argument.

I.          One of the easiest and most obvious inference rules in logic is the rule of conjunction.  If A is true and B is true, then A and B is true.  We make students create the truth table for this inference mostly so they can practice building truth tables.  No one doubts that propositions are conjunctive.
1.     A
2.     B                /therefore A+B
3.     A+B            1, 2, conjunction

II.         It may seem counterintuitive, but the rule of conjunction does not apply to beliefs.  It is axiomatic that if a person believes something, she believes that it is true.  At first guess, we might think that if two beliefs are held to be true, the conjunction of those beliefs must also be believed.  But this is not so. 

III.        The best way to prove this is to assume the opposite and see what happens.  We will assume that beliefs are conjunctive.  On this assumption, if a person considers proposition D and finds that she believes it, and then considers proposition E and finds that she believes it, then she should believe a new proposition: D + E.
            Let us imagine that our subject considers all her beliefs sequentially.  We will let B1 stand for her first belief, B2 for her second, and so on.  After considering B1 and B2, she should find that she believes B1 + B2.  Soon after, she should also discover that she also believes B1 + B2 + B3.
            Now, human beings hold an indefinitely large number of beliefs, but the number of beliefs a person holds may be finite.  Let’s assume that it is.  (If people hold an infinite number of beliefs, my overall argument still holds.)  Given enough time, our subject should find that she believes the following proposition, which we will call proposition omega:
            Bω = {B1, B2, B3, B4, …Bω} where Bω is the last of her beliefs. 
            It will interest some people that Bω is one of the beliefs that our subject believes; that is, the subject’s class of beliefs is self-referential.  The argument does not depend on this fact.
            The problem is this.  No reflective person believes Bω.  To the contrary: it is safe to say that all reflective people believe the opposite, i.e. they believe  ~Bω.  To see that this is so, consider the meaning of ~ Bω in ordinary English: "It is not true that all of my beliefs are true," which is the same as saying, “At least one of my beliefs is false.”

IV.  All of us know that among our indefinitely large class of beliefs, there are almost certainly some that are wrong.  If it were possible to consider individually each one of our beliefs (neuropsychologically speaking, this may be impossible) we would find that we think each one is true.  After all, that’s what it means to believe something; you think that it is true.  And yet, we do not believe that all our beliefs are true.  We have very great confidence that at least one of our beliefs is false.  But if conjunction rules over beliefs, we ought to believe Bω.  The fact that we do not believe Bω shows that conjunction does not rule over our beliefs.

            The fact that conjunction does not rule over our beliefs should cause us some pause.  Conjunction is a basic inference rule in formal logic.  Common sense supports the conjunction rule as firmly as it condemns self-contradiction.  (Imagine serving as a juror when the witness testifies that “roses are red” is true, and “violets are blue” is true, but “roses are red and violets are blue” is not true.) 
Here’s the problem.  If our beliefs obeyed the rule of conjunction we would all believe Bω.  But we don’t.  We believe ~Bω.  There is a contradiction implicit between what we would believe if we believed in accord with logic (Bω) and what we actually believe (~Bω).  If we actually affirmed this contradiction, we would thereby imply every proposition.
The contradiction is only implicit.  I can only consciously think about a tiny fraction of my beliefs at any time.  If the beliefs I am presently aware of seem coherent and true, I am satisfied with them.  Let us call the conjunction of all my present beliefs proposition CB (for conjuncted beliefs).  I may well think CB is true while still affirming ~Bω, because I have indefinitely many other beliefs, and at least one of them is false.
What should we do?  When someone points out to me that two of my beliefs contradict each other (something I wrote a year ago contradicts what I say today), I face the awful danger of affirming a contradiction.  Common sense says I should reexamine my contradictory beliefs and modify or abandon one of them.  Much experience shows that we ought to be fallibilists.  Very often we find that our belief about this or that turned out to be wrong.
            The upshot of this meditation is this.  We need to be appropriately humble about our epistemic efforts.  Our beliefs do not in fact obey the rules of logic.  That doesn’t mean we can abandon logic.  But the logical implication of my current beliefs may show that one or more of my beliefs stand in need of improvement.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Hope and Happiness

Morality and the Good Life,
Part Three

Most people like to think, with Aristotle or Epicurus, that goodness and happiness go together.  Or, like Kant, they think that goodness and happiness ought to go together.  Bishop’s 2015 book, The Good Life, challenges this predilection.  Well-being can be empirically studied, he argues.  We ought to accept what the research shows us.  If it shows us—and it does—that well-being can be achieved without goodness, we need to get used to that fact.
Bishop is not proposing a moral revolution.  He does say that well-being is real, that it is objectively valuable, and that it can be studied empirically.  He says that individuals and organizations (including governments) should consider information supplied by positive psychology when deciding what to do.  But he does not say that well-being is the only factor decision makers should take in mind.  Bishop says that individuals or organizations may rightly decide that other factors outweigh well-being in some particular case; e.g. it may be morally right for a person to sacrifice some of his well-being to care for his mother, and a government may rightly decide not to adopt some policy that would increase overall well-being if that policy infringed the rights of some minority. Well-being is one factor among others when making moral decisions.  
            Now I think that makes good sense.  In natural science, we try to explain phenomena by reference to the fewest possible basic concepts.  A characteristic of a good theory is that it will be simple.  Very often, moral philosophers have tried to mimic theories in natural science by reducing morality to a single principle, such as Bentham’s notion of utility or Kant’s notion of the categorical imperative.  I think such attempts are mistakes.  Long ago, Aristotle wrote that we should not expect more precision in any given field of inquiry than is appropriate for that field.  In geometry and logic we can be very precise, but in inquiries like ethics we have to be content with a lower standard of exactitude.  It seems unlikely to me that a good theory of morality will be simple in the way theories in natural science are simple.
            Some years ago, the city planning commission, of which I was a member, agreed that we wanted to recommend a certain policy to the city council.  Writing a formal recommendation to the city council required that we include proper “recitals.”  Recitals include routine references to the history of the proposal—that duly noticed open public meetings were held for the discussion of the matter, etc.—and, just as important, reasons for the policy proposal.  Various members of the commission tried to create justifications for the proposal by appealing to justice or fairness or equality.  But they became frustrated.  They thought the proposed policy was a good idea, but they could not figure out how equality or fairness supported it.  They felt stuck.  The proposal they wished to recommend did not promote injustice, but in honesty they could not say that it aided fairness or equality.  It was just a good idea.  Their difficulty was not caused by a defect in the policy but by their too narrow conception of the goals of city policy.  Once we admitted that the proposed policy promoted well-being (without infringing fairness), we had a ready “recital.”
            The point of the illustration is this.  Just as a proper conception of the goals of government cannot be reduced to a single principle (e.g. justice), the “goods” of a good life cannot be reduced to a single principle (e.g. utility or rights).  Bishop’s contention that well-being is only one of multiple goods reminds us of this point.  And he makes the point emphatically: it is possible for a wicked person to have well-being.  Well-being is an objectively good thing to pursue, but not at all costs.
            I want to ask now how hope figures in Bishop’s theory.  Bishop doesn’t talk about hope very much, but when he does he uses it as an example of an “attitude.” For Bishop, attitudes are one of four elements of positive causal networks.  The others are feelings (aka “moods” and “emotions”), traits, and accomplishments.  I think we are to understand these categories something like this.  Feelings happen to us.  Attitudes are something we take up toward the world and people.  And we live out our traits through dependable habits. 
By using hope as an example of an “attitude,” Bishop treats hope far too simplistically.  It is true that sometimes we willfully adopt a hopeful attitude; in this sense hope reflects our agency.  But hope is also very frequently a positive feeling, something that happens to us whether we will it or not.  And in the Christian tradition hope is a virtue.
Bishop’s “positive traits” are what we normally call virtues.  He gives friendliness, curiosity, and perseverance as examples of positive traits.  But he gives no attention to the traditional idea that hope is a virtue.  He seems to think of hope exclusively as hopefulness.  If so, then he’s wrong.
Most likely, Bishop mentioned hope only to illustrate the category “positive attitudes.”  His attention is on positive causal networks and the elements that contribute to them.  He’s not trying to give a thorough analysis of hope. This is both understandable and unfortunate, because I think hope serves as a pretty good illustration of the network theory.
What is hope?  Many modern philosophers define hope as a combination of desire and a certain kind of belief.  To hope is to desire some outcome while believing that it is possible (neither impossible or certain).  Since hope = desire + probability judgment, many moderns advise that we should restrict our hopes to highly probable outcomes.  Adrienne Martin, in her 2014 book, How We Hope, subjects this idea to devastating objections.  Borrowing language from Margaret Walker, Martin suggests that hope is a “syndrome.” Hope is marked not just by desires and perceptions (probability judgments can be understood as a kind of perception), but also by certain forms of attention, expression, feeling, and activity.  Hope is complicated.
That fits Bishop’s network theory beautifully. 
Imagine Yakub.  Yakub has significant ambitions; he wants to begin a new career that will enable him to better provide for his family.  Because of religious discrimination in his country, even though Yakub is university educated, most occupations are closed to him in that country.  Yakub has a daughter who suffers from renal disease.  Medical care for his daughter is expensive and very hard to obtain.
Yakub is unique, but he is not unusual.  Many people face harsh obstacles in life.
Suppose that in spite of the difficulties in his life Yakub is hopeful.  We can think of this as an attitude that Yakub adopts as an act of will.  This seems to be the way Bishop thinks of hope.  But how does Yakub’s hopeful attitude play out in his life?
One result of Yakub’s hope is that he imagines ways he could move toward his goals.  C.R. Snyder called this “pathways thinking,” a crucial element in his hope theory.  In addition to imagining pathways, Yakub makes plans on the basis of his ideas and acts on them.  Sometimes, perhaps infrequently, his actions succeed; they move him toward his goals of better employment or healthcare for his daughter.
Now we have three elements: hope as an attitude, hope as imagination, and hope as behaviors.  We may well imagine that Yakub also experiences hope as a feeling, especially when his actions net some success.
Yakub may judge correctly that it is unlikely that he will get the employment he wants or the healthcare his daughter needs.  But he also judges, rightly, that these outcomes are possible.  And further, as a practical matter, he judges that these outcomes are very important to him, and that therefore it is permissible and proper for him to hope.  In Adrienne Martin’s terms, Yakub licenses himself to hope.
Some people in Yakub’s situation would despair.  Yakub could despair.  But he doesn’t have to.  He can hope.
I contend that Yakub’s hope fits Bishop’s description of a positive causal network.  The various elements of Yakub’s hope reinforce each other.  They cohere in a “homeostatic property cluster” which can endure, in the face of many discouragements, for a lifetime. 
Many people have observed that hope can sustain people in harsh circumstances.  Bishop’s network theory may help explain why this is.  More precisely, his theory gives a framework for psychological research, and that research may explain how we may learn to hope.
In 1 Thessalonians, perhaps the first New Testament document written, Paul thanks God for his readers’ “…work produced by faith, labor prompted by love, and endurance inspired by hope.”  This is a familiar idea, that hope helps us endure hard times.  Later on, however, Paul wrote to the Romans that Christians should “rejoice in sufferings, because suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”  The idea here seems to be that hard times lead to hope.  The Bible reader might be led to object, which is it?  Does hope sustain us in hard times, or do hard time help us develop hope?
Both.  Practical experience teaches that a right response to hard times encourages hope and that hope helps us keep going in hard times.  Bishop’s network theory of positive psychology helps us conceptualize the matter.  Hope is not only an attitude we adopt toward life; it is a “syndrome” of perceptions, feelings, beliefs, and behaviors that reinforce each other.  Hope is, in Bishop’s terms, a positive causal network.  Hope is a virtue.