I know, most questions here are more sophisticated, but this question sparked in my mind some time ago:

Is hope a bad thing?

The reason I got to this idea is that I had a hard time with lots of bad luck the last years. And of all emotions and thoughts, hope caused the most suffering.
This made me think. In the myth of Pandora, depending on the version of the story, all the evil things came out of the box into our world: Hate, envy, frustration... and also hope. Generally this story is seen that hope is such a good thing it makes up for every bad thing in the world, as it let's us endure through hard times. But what if hope was in there for a reason? Because it is part of all this? And it's there for us to suffer longer instead of giving up?
I did some research, and I'm not the first thinking this way, but it is a point with only few supporters. (I know that this is a question where a "correct" answer does not exist by definition, but I'm interested in the argumentation, be it pro or contra)

Is this even a valid point of view?
Is there something relevant I'm missing in my thought process?

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    The easiest source i found would be the wikipedia article about Pandora's Box. I had also a few other pages, but i need to look them up again.
    – miep
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 20:16
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    250: τυφλὰς ἐν αὐτοῖς ἐλπίδας κατῴκισα (typhlàs en autoîs elpídas katṓikisa), "I established in them blind hopes." Does the original Greek say "blind hopes" or just "hope". I don't know Attic Greek. It would be more effective just to use "hope". More austere and grand. en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prometheus_Bound
    – Gordon
    Commented Jan 30, 2019 at 22:14
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    @miep , I mean it in this sense : if you have hope, then you are more likely to act, to do something. Let's suppose there are two people Bob and Alice . Bob has the habit of losing hope, and Alice never loses hope. From that, we can conclude that Bob is less likely to act than Alice, which means that Bob's results throughout life are less diverse than those of Alice. Bob tends to have a boring life where few important things happen, while Alice tends to have a life with all kinds of failures and successes. So, Alice is more likely to die or be the next Bill gates, compared to Bob...
    – SmootQ
    Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 9:54
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    you may look at what philosophy has to say about hope outside of pandoras box context: reddit.com/r/Nietzsche/comments/8dr5e7/nietzsche_on_hope Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 10:26
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    @Gordon: I can’t speak to the authenticity of that line but τυφλάς, agreeing with έλπίδας, not only means “blind hopes”, but even emphasises that the hopes are blind...
    – ig0774
    Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 16:05

4 Answers 4


Box is a mistranslation. Pithos is an Ancient vase not a box. However vase is a metaphore. Its shape and use as container refers to pregnancy. Pandora’s name is also not understood, but as she was interpreted by the church to be equal to Eve, her name can be understood as to come fro. από άνθρωπο (from man) which has a similar meaning as the Biblical story that Eve was created from a man’s rib (metaphore for the phallus)

How from pregnancy to vase? έγκυος énkyos pregnant αγγείο angeio vase (became pithos) This may even be traced back to the Ankh symbol to mean ‘pregnancy’ besides ‘eternal life’.

Pandora’s vase is an analogy of the ‘human pregnancy’. Opening the vase/uterus gives the flood of the female period which goes along with a flood of blood and emotions but when closed it contains the hope for eternal life.

So vases were used in the death cults in Egypt to hold the viscera and: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pithos to contain the bones of deceased.

If you read the other myths surrounding the personages around Pandora, you will find more information about repopulating the world, throwing away the bones of mother earth. (To not hold the dead in pithos, but empty them so they can contain life. It is all metaphore. But somehow evil is found in both Pandora’s and Eve’s stories. Maybe the relation between evil (or death) and sex is that in both cases you lie down on the ground (Adam and Eve were in a garden), and the association with sin (bad) and lying down (bed/bath) has similar origins in the combination of the B and d/t/th sounds. These sounds might possibly mean something like ‘placed/housed/to be/lying’ (b) on ‘earth’ (d/t/th). The letters d/t/th are found in words like earth/Erde/terra. The R in these words has a rudimentary meaning of ‘to rise’ like the sun (Ra/Horus: sun gods) and thus with shining like the sun (roi/raja (king) and gold (or). Lying on earth: bath, bed, becoming pregnant by having sex in the metaphore of lying on earth; dead in the metaphore of lying on earth. Hope is expecting a child; pregnancy. So the answer to the wuestion is; no. Hope is not evil. Hope in French is espoire. It shows the ‘spirit’ the heavenly essence that a child will catch its first breath at birth. Spirit, breath, birth; cognates as the spirit is said to enter the body at birth and leave it at death while birth is the first moment of breath. Pyrrha, daughter of Pandora is said to throw Stones backwards. This may possibly be a Semitic word pun on the Egyptian pharaoh mummies (sons of Lazarus in Egypt). Compare these two phrases and how they resemble each other but mean different things: אבנים לזרוק מאחור - בנים לעזר ממצרים Stones throw behind - sons Lazarus of Egypt The sons of Lazarus from Egypt are ofcourse the followers of Horus: pharaohs whose bodies were ‘thrown behind stones’. It is not uncommon, in fact it seems more canon that myths use analogies as a mnemonic to contain historical information. This is a prehistoric (meaning before the invention of writing) oral tradition’s method of preserving knowledge. In this case the myth seems to contain knowledge about the purpose of putting the dead in vases to hope for a resurrection to life similar to how having intercourse gives the expectation of a pregnancy.

However meaningful a myth can be interpreted, it remains a myth and the authors are dead so the intention of the writers is lost in unwritten history. So this answer does not hold an absolute truth. But it gets much closer to a better understanding of this female’s container, her name and the reason why Pyrrah would throw Stones behind her. Pyrrah-myth, the stones behind her seem another pun in referring to the Egyptian pyramids built by the sons of Lazarus (we should say Osiris or Aser, but its senitic name would be EL-ASER (the god Aser) compounded to Lazar-us (with Greek suffix).

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    How do you know that pithos refers to pregnancy? The wikipedia page doesn't mention that, and it seems like a fairly common household object for that era rather than a sacramental or ritual item... a purely ritual item would have been much easier to interpret into one specific metaphor. Commented Jan 31, 2019 at 18:45
  • In Genesis man is made of clay. The Ancient Egyptian god Khnum is described as a potter and places the offspring in the wombs like placing ceramic in the oven, where ‘having one in the oven’ is a metaphore for pregnancy. Then there is the female shape of the pots which a famous brand of cola used for its glass bottles.
    – Ajagar
    Commented Feb 1, 2019 at 5:54

In my and others philosophical view hope is for the weak, so yes, overall it's something not really helpful.

We have various hope-related situations. In one situation, you did everything you could and still some things did not get the way they suppose to. In this case hope can indirectly have good effects because it can help maintain a positive attitude. But this is a case rarely encountered. In most cases now-days, people don't do anything anymore and they hope for a favorable result. This type of inaction most of the time ends in a totally unfavorable result, which in turn lower morale and causes even more inaction.

So no, hope it's not evil but it's useless, which does not make it good in most cases.

  • Kinda thought I coined this: "hope is for the weak". Have you any references for it? (The explicit phrase more than the idea)
    – christo183
    Commented Apr 12, 2019 at 13:52

Welcome to PSE.

Left to myself I should say that non-contextually hope is neither good nor evil.

Let's get hope into conceptual focus. (1) If I hope for something then I must, under some description, desire it. I can't hope for something I don't in any respect want.

(2) To hope for something, rather than merely to wish for it or day dream about it, I have to believe that what I hope for falls with the class of possibilities. I must assign some degree of positive probability, however slight, to the fulfilment of my hope.

One could refine these two conditions but I think that capture at least the two main criteria of hope.

It seems to me quite clear that unless we take context into account neither good not evil attaches to (1) or (2) singly or in combination. Evil or harm comes into the picture only if and when (a) what I hope for is damaging to myself or others or (b) if and when the object of my hope has zero probability (because it is a self-contradiction) or only so slight a probability of realisation such that hope (i.) deflects me from seeking what is realisable or greatly more rationally likely to be fulfilled, or (ii.) generates disappointment, hurt or upset because the object of my hope is a doomed to certain or near-certain disappointment.

Hopes to which such considerations do not apply may be a good element in life. If I buy a lottery ticket and hope to win a fabulous prize, the cost of the ticket may be negligible but the pleasure of hope it confers may give me a week of pleasure with no disappointment because, knowing the enormous odds, I did not expect to win.


i think hope is not a bad thing. it is depend on the purpose and objective itself.

hope is very important in religion, and many ppls rely on it to live

the truth is, hope is present when some objective you want to achieve but you are not certainly you can do so

it is a typical respond of human beings when during with this empirical &probabilistic world

you can strengthen your hope by rather changing the envrionment or yourself

and i dont agree hope itself bring any negative effect. your negative effect is from objective failure, which do not relevant the motivation of the hope operation

at all, bad luck is around living (it is just probability, if you trust mathematics, big number theory explain it can present randomly and always need to confront)

these negative effects generated irrelevant from hope. but the bad luck itself (here why religions can comfort many ppls).

philaophiscally, standing at a better position (well educated, relationship, robust living standard and so on), so that the negative effects caused by bad luck would not hurt your actual assets and your truth destination of your life.

should be the right way to duel with your pandora box*

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