Finalist, 2006 Kids Philosophy Slam
Aaron Perman, age 17
Alexandria, Virginia

Which is More Powerful Fear or Hope?

“When either good or evil is uncertain, it gives rise to FEAR or HOPE, according to the degrees of uncertainty on the one side or the other.”

–David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature

I firmly believe hope is more powerful than fear. Support for this can be seen in classic existentialist viewpoints. This is also present in my life. Finally, through careful analysis and application of Hume’s quote (above) to heaven and hell, the ultimate symbols of good and evil, it can be shown that hope is more powerful than fear.

Many of the classic existentialists would support the viewpoint that hope is more powerful. For example, Nietzsche would say that even though our belief in god is dead, we have to rise up to become our own hopefully Gods and not fear this independence from our belief in God. Even Kierkegaard, whose philosophy is based on embracing anxiety, or the general fear of life, would have to agree with this, because by embracing and sinking further into anxiety you can reach the endpoint of embracing god and making the leap to a better, more powerful, hopeful, life without anxiety.

In life where does fear get you? It doesn’t get me anywhere. Some might say if you’re afraid of failure it will force you to succeed. I have issue with that, because when I’m afraid of failure, it doesn’t force me to succeed, it just makes me take short-cuts, such as cramming for a test, that come back to hurt me on midterms, finals and ap tests. However, if I have hope that I can get all of the work done and learn the material, I understand and internalize it, and end up spending less time doing a better job than if I was afraid. This holds true for more than just school, if you are making a speech, acting in a play, or throwing a pitch in a baseball game with a 3-2 count, 2 outs, bottom of the 9th and bases loaded, if you are hopeful that you can do it you will do your best, while if you are afraid of failure, your muscles will get tight and anxiety will take over you causing you to freeze or slip up.

Good is always uncertain, therefore according to Hume (I agree with him), there must always be hope. Good is always uncertain because no matter how bad the situation there is always the possibility of good. This can even be seen in Sartre’s “hell” in his play No-Exit because although all of the Characters are in hell and have lost everything they still try to make good out of the situation by working out the differences between them so they don’t torture each other for eternity. However, by contrast fear can not be found in heaven.

In conclusion, hope is clearly more powerful than fear. This can be seen through the existentialist viewpoints, in my every day life, and through analysis of the ultimate good and evil, heaven and hell.

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