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The Best of All Possible Times

Paul Snitzer
Published on August 21, 2018

The French philosopher Voltaire in his novella Candide created the character Dr. Pangloss, a tutor and mentor of the novella’s hero, and had Dr. Pangloss famously argue throughout the book that, no matter what disasters occurred, the world we live in must be “the best of all possible worlds.” Voltaire’s intent was to mock the reasoning of a German philosopher, Gottfried Leibniz, who had struggled with the problem of evil by arguing that the world was perfect and that no true evil could exist in it. Since the publication of Candide, critics who view an opinion as overly optimistic typically will ridicule that opinion as “Panglossian.”

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