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10.108021692327.2023.2172064.pdf (641.92 kB)

Can rational choice explain hope and patience? Frustration and bitterness inThe Book of Job

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journal contribution
submitted on 2024-02-11, 05:54 and posted on 2024-02-12, 11:10 authored by Elias L. Khalil

Can rational choice theory justify hope and patience in dealing with calamities such as financial collapse or terminal illness? The Book of Job is a good entry-point. Three friends of Job counsel him to avoid hopelessness and bitterness arising from frustration regarding calamities. They do so on non-rational grounds. They argue that Job should ignore the evidence and instead blindly uphold the belief ‘God is just.’ However, such blindness permits magic, superstitions, and cultish beliefs. The specter of such beliefs is probably what prompted the fourth friend, Elihu, to dismiss the arguments of the three friends. Elihu reasons that one should be rational, i.e., acknowledge the evidence. This need not entail the conclusion ‘God is unjust’ – as God cannot perform miracles on a daily basis. That is, given the evidence, one cannot sustain hopeful beliefs that God will interfere and reverse the course of natural catastrophes and shocks from which humans, as well as other living beings, suffer. One at best can be patient, accept suffering considering worse counterfactuals. Based on Elihu’s critique of the arguments of the three friends, and building on Maimonides’s interpretation, this paper concludes that standard rational choice theory can explain patience, but not hope.

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Published in: International Journal of Philosophy and Theology
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  • English



Publication Year

  • 2023

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Institution affiliated with

  • Doha Institute for Graduate Studies
  • School Of Economics Administration and Public Policy - DI