best of all possible worlds

<metaphysics, philosophy of science, logic, ethics> the qualitative character of reality, according to the Stoics, who supposed that all is as it should be. In a similar vein, Leibniz argued that an omnipotent and benevolent god would create nothing less, though Voltaire found the claim absurdly naive. In a venerable witticism, the optimist says brightly, "This is the best of all possible worlds," whereupon the pessimist sighs, "I'm afraid you're right." Recommended Reading: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Discourse on Metaphysics and the Monadology, tr. by R. Montgomery (Prometheus, 1992) and Voltaire, Candide (Bantam, 1984).

[A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names]

<2001-09-28>

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Nearby terms: Bernstein condition « best first search « Best Fit « best of all possible worlds » beta abstraction » beta conversion » beta reduction