Philosophy, Psychology

and Humanities Web Site



Francis Garden - 1878 - Table of contents

Diccionario filosófico
Complete edition

Diccionario de Filosofía
Brief definition of the most important concepts of philosophy.


A Dictionary of English Philosophical Terms Francis Garden

Vocabulary of Philosophy, Psychological, Ethical, Metaphysical
William Fleming

Biografías y semblanzas Biographical references and lives of philosophers

Brief introduction to the thought of Ortega y Gasset

History of Philosophy Summaries

Historia de la Filosofía
Explanation of the thought of the great philosophers; summaries, exercises...

Historia de la Filosofía
Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Jaime Balmes

Historia de la Filosofía
Digital edition of the History of Philosophy by Zeferino González

Vidas, opiniones y sentencias de los filósofos más ilustres
Complete digital edition of the work of Diogenes Laertius

Compendio de las vidas de los filósofos antiguos

A brief history of Greek Philosophy
B. C. Burt


A Short History of Philosophy





Optimism. The doctrine that the universe, being created by perfect Wisdom and Goodness, must not only be good but the best possible. "A less good compared with a greater is evil," a position which it would be hard to prove. Optimism was the creed of Malebranche and of Leibnitz, and is thrown into poetical form by Pope in the "Essay on Man," the philosophy of which was imparted by Bolingbroke. Its tendency it is shrewdly suspected was not understood by the accomplished artist himself. Here moral evil itself is brought into the net of optimism.


  "If plagues or earthquakes break not Heaven's design,
   Why then a Borgia, or a Catiline?
   Who knows but He, Whose hand the lightning forms,
   Who heaves old ocean, and Who wings the storms;
   Pours fierce ambition in a Cæsar's mind,
   Or turns young Ammon loose to scourge mankind?"

This creed was turned into ridicule by Voltaire, in his Candide. I am not aware that the question is now frequently raised, and it is in some degree an idle one. Both parties will frequently intend the very same thing. One man may say, "The universe, being the work of perfect Wisdom and Goodness, must needs be the best possible." His antagonist may say, "Perfect Wisdom and Goodness may have had reasons for not making it the best possible;" to which the first might rejoin, "If so, it is the best possible, for nothing can be possible except what perfect Wisdom and Goodness decrees, and nothing could have such reasons in its favour as those which dictate such decrees." There is also a considerable ambiguity in the very term optimism, the kind of goodness in question being left undefined.

The utmost, I think, which we can venture to say is that the universe is the best possible, in a conflict with moral evil, and that all the temporary turns of that conflict will be overruled for good, so that perfection will be the final issue. Why moral evil has been permitted is a deep and difficult question. Whether or not we think that we can answer it, we must never allow ourselves to regard it as other than evil.



© TORRE DE BABEL EDICIONES - Edition: Isabel Blanco  - Legal notice and privacy policy