All's for the best in the best of all possible worlds - but is it true?

The Best of all Possible Worlds?

"All's for the best in the best of all possible worlds". (orig: Tout est pour le mieux dans le meilleur des mondes possibles). This was the maxim of Dr. Pangloss in Voltaire's political satire, Candide. Whatever misfortune befell, Dr. Pangloss would console himself with these words of undefeated optimism. To this day, excessive and unjustifed optimism is referred to as the Panglossian View.

The Panglossian view

The Panglossian view is not wholly without merit when correctly understood. Pangloss is not saying everything is going to turn out well. In particular, he is not saying everything is going to turn out well for me. He's not a fool. In fact, his position is more a version of God moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform. Pangloss accepts, as articles of faith, that the world is imperfect, that it must be so, and that God has everything under control. His philosophy is more one of ours not to reason why. Personally, I think it is a wrong-headed, confused and dangerous philosophy, not least because it clears the stage for malevolent human forces, yet it has elements of inherent goodness that can be respected. The same cannot be said of -

The Law of Attraction. This piece of latter-day mumbo-jumbo is nothing more than a hotchpotch of new age mysticism, pseudo-science and marketing. It appeals to naiveness, desperation, escapism and greed. It's high priests are cynical manipulators at worst, fast-buck salesmen at best. Having said that, there's nothing wrong with maintaining a positive attitude, but espousing charlatans as gurus is never the way forward.

Pangloss and Fatalism. One problem with Panglossian optimism is its similarity to fatalism - if everything is for the best, then attempts to improve matters are futile, almost presumptuous, as interference with God's purpose. All that's then left is acceptance. This is not true optimism. In fact it's more akin to denial and, in truth, not far removed from pessimism. True optimism should be motivational and based on a belief that the individual or group can make a difference.

Pessimism is self-fulfilling - Optimism less so.

This asymmetry is unfortunate but inescapable. The explanation is simple enough. Pessimism may lead to depression, depression to inaction, inaction to loss of control, loss of control to failure. And this is as true of whole populations as of the individuals within them. Optimism, on the other hand, does not inevitably lead to success. Why not? Simply because the odds might be stacked against you. Stronger forces might desire your failure. Optimism leads to endeavour, but some endeavours fail. Asymmetry - tough! Or to put it another way - you don't have to fight your way to the bottom.

Courage, Friends - the Devil is Dead!

Denys of Burgundy - a very different optimist from Dr Pangloss - a warrior, a simple man of huge strength, courage and loyalty. His rallying cry, courage friends - the devil is dead!, never far from his lips. But his weapon is the crossbow and warfare has moved on. He sees his fate coming, but fights it at every turn. Just as his creator, Charles Reade, must have known that his great book, The Cloister & The Hearth, would prove an inadequate weapon against its target, the tradition of celibacy in the Catholic Priesthood. But Reade, like Denys, was a campaigner. These great optimists, Reade and Denys, one real, one fictional, but equally inspirational, are our true models of courageous optimism, campaigning optimism. Not the accepting, uncritical, 'soma-optimism' of Dr Pangloss.

What devil shall we kill today?

That is a very hard question to answer. Whereas our friend Pangloss is wrong in believing everything is for the best, he's right in acknowledging that the world is too complex to fully understand. Maybe this is why people are so drawn to single issue politics. Let's save the whales - OK, good, no harm will come from that. Let's ban hunting with hounds - that will save some foxes and only upset a few rich farmers. Let's abolish slave labour* in the Gulf States - no worries, that will only add another 50% or so to the current price of crude. What, you don't like that idea?

The fact is, there is no single devil. Even here in Hubpages in the past few weeks we've seen attempted demonisation of Americans, of Muslims, of Capitalists, of Homosexuals, of Republicans, of Christians, of China, of Immigrants, of Jews, of Atheists. No doubt of many other groups too.

It's time to grow up, time to reject the soundbite culture that actively encourages stupidity and bigotry, from whatever persuasion it comes. There is a need for optimistic campaigning, even against formidable opposition, for tilting at windmills if you like, but let it be informed by rationality and humanity. Or let it stay home.

Denys of Burgundy

Courage, friends, the devil is dead
and now is the time to make amends
for tears we drew and the fear that bled
courage, friends.
Welcome the joy that sunlight sends,
showing as ghosts the words we said,
ghosts of the night that never ends
but need not hold us, ghosts that fed
ravenous on the lie that lends
truth to the cry the warrior led -
Courage, friends.


*Slave labour in the Gulf States - immigrant work forces, imported from the Subcontinent, working outdoors in temperatures up to 50C (122F), no representation, no exit visa, no rights of assembly, no privacy, multiple occupancy, no wives or families, subsistence food, payment around $200 per month, often withheld for the first few months to secure 'loyalty'.

Note to Voltaireans - if I have misrepresented Dr Pangloss, perhaps made of him a straw man to tear down, I apologise.

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Comments 36 comments

robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey

All is well in this best of all possible hubs, Paraglider:-) Well Done!

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hey - that was quick! Thanks Robie :)

Ananta65 8 years ago

Great hub, Paraglider. We, the people, indeed are tempted and often inclined to view the world, life in digestable chunks. Thinking that if we digest those, we actually solve our problems. Step by step, rather than trying to establish an integrated, whole view. Which we can't. But being unable to doesn't mean we shouldn't try. Optimism is not equal to passively accepting. Optimism is trying, hoping for success but in the knowledge that there's a chance for failure and disappointment.

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marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

The more we live, the less we know. I've decided over the years I don't have to figure it out....just live in it peacefully -- which is no easy feat.

I loved this, though, as I realize the different beliefs since time. I tend to believe Someone in the Great Beyond has got IT all figured out. I'll wait until they're ready to explain. Sooner, rather than later, I hope. Things appear in a mess; so surely there's a Plan?

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Thanks Ananta & Marisue. My feeling is that while we can never know the whole picture, we can still act positively for change. A simple example is reducing our own consumption of energy and materials. Another is in voting and encouraging others to vote. Another is in speaking out against obvious injustices. Another is life-long study. Because, though we can't know everything, the better informed we are, the better our judgment should be. Denys of Burgundy should have taken stock and studied musketry!

ColdWarBaby 8 years ago

Very well written and succinct.  It really cuts to the heart of things at the end.  Presumably this means that if we all lead by example and do what is “right” then everything will be fine.  I couldn’t agree more!  You are absolutely correct. 

Unfortunately we just can’t all seem to agree on what’s “right”, or even what’s “wrong”.  And since we disagree, the only solution is a fight to the death.  While we’re at it, you get everyone who believes as you do and I’ll get all my supporters and we’ll ALL kill each other until only one side survives.  And if there is more than one survivor on the “winning” side, sooner or later, they will find things to disagree about and eventually those disagreements will escalate to violent confrontations. 

Seems like a vicious cycle to me.  I’ve spent almost my entire life trying to figure out how to break it.

“It's time to grow up…”  We need to survive past our childhood for this to happen. 

“…there is no single devil.”  Perhaps it is us. 

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Not really, CWB. For one thing, I will never say 'everything will be fine' because I don't think we can know the outcomes of our actions in advance. I do go along with the idea that we should be attached to our actions but not to their outcomes. In modern management-speak that means focussng more on process than result.

But this one - ((And since we disagree, the only solution is a fight to the death.)) sorry, no - it's a complete non-sequitur. Even now, I'm disagreeing with you, but I see no fight on the horizon. It seems naïve to me to believe that one 'way' has to win out and suppress every other 'way'. Why? Most of our present problems are due to this particular corruption - the acquiescence of society to the 'way' of greed. But we'll be no better off if we usurp greed and instate green. It's just too simplistic. Revolutions never work. You need healthy confusion, complication and balance. You need an engaged, interested and bewildered public.

That's how you 'break it' - by denying the existence of 'it' and instating 'them'.

Because there is no one solution.

ColdWarBaby 8 years ago

You take me too literally Paraglider.  The disagreement, fighting and killing scenario is merely another metaphorical reference to the cycle we humans have repeated since the beginning.  Sorry if I was unclear. 

Of course disagreement need not end in conflict.  That’s my whole point.  We simply agree to disagree.  There is generally much less a problem on the individual level since others, with cooler heads, can mediate.  However, the more people take sides in a dispute the more likely it will escalate to violent confrontation and the more tragic the results will be.  Nationalism, which I personally believe to be a mass pathological psychosis, exacerbated by psychopathic “leaders”, is an entirely different matter.  We don’t have to keep reprising the same tragedy.  If we don’t stop pretending our petty differences are matters worth killing for then we will fail as a species.  I think we could start by burning every national flag on the face of Earth.

If there is no ONE solution, then I fear there is NO solution.  Even if everyone agrees to exist under completely different “belief systems” and be completely autonomous, as long as they live in peace, that is still one solution.  Disagreement and solution are not mutually exclusive.  Because everyone has not agreed as to what is the “right” way to live does not preclude peaceful coexistence, which could be seen as a solution.  The world envisioned by those currently in dominance is a single solution model, a world of slaves and masters where dissent is not tolerated.  There may be no permanent solution but permanence is a problematic concept anyway.

I personally don’t buy the axiom that good cannot exist without evil or that what is good for one may be evil for another.  At the most fundamental level of human awareness these assumptions do not stand.  This is what makes us human.  It is as wrong to kill a monster like Saddam Hussein as were the atrocities he committed.  If I have food and you are starving, it is wrong for me not to share.  So, to some extent, all of us do wrong every day.  What injustice we cannot address individually we MUST address collectively.  Ultimately we are ONE race, ONE species and ONE family.  For our family to survive we must resolve our differences, find a solution.  If we do not, nature will find one for us.  It’s called extinction and that would certainly be ONE solution.  Perhaps we are not part of the solution but rather the problem.

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Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Thanks for that further explanation. I think our positions are pretty similar. We need government because some things (transport, health, education etc) need to be centralised. We need replaceable government because history has shown that dictatorships, dynasties, monarchies inevitably go bad. I think the closest we're likely to achieve is along the lines of the old style Social Democracy. We need International Courts with teeth, but these two need to be answerable.

We desperately need to reverse the trend of anti-intellectualism that is rampant. This reversal may just be led by the East, and India in particular, where educated people are proud of their education and there is a long culture of respect for 'sages'.

But (though I am no Marxist) it might be necessary for the present global capitalism to crash, since it shows no signs at all of moderating its excess.

Thank you for opportunity to discuss these things.

Ananta65 8 years ago

I don’t agree there, Coldwaterbaby. There are a few values that almost all societies have in common. Basically coming down to the ten commandments. So there is common ground. If we leave it to that and stick with it, there’s hardly any need to fight to the death.

The only way to break it is to walk away from it, if you ask me.

And indeed, agree to disagree on the details.

Regarding old style Democracy… I agree. In the old days, democracy would mean that the community voted and agreed on issues. In today’s societies, the people don’t vote on issues, they vote on party programs and – worse – puppets. While the one issue parties show that people do want to be heard about those issues.

ColdWarBaby 8 years ago

Paraglider, we are much of the same mind. Anti-intellectualism, anti-science and anti-reality seem to be the favored modes of the “leaders” of our world. Social democracy would certainly be a good place to start, especially if were applied on a global scale.

As far as "capitalism" is concerned, and I have never even READ Marx, it is a system that rewards dishonesty, ruthlessness, deceit, arrogance, intimidation and betrayal. In short, it ennobles evil. I think the crash you mention has already happened. The “capitalist express” has been driven off the cliff. It just hasn’t quite hit the ground yet.

Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Years ago, I had a conversation with a remarkable woman during a lightening storm as we met at the borders of our backyards, pulling in clothing from off the line and cranking umbrellas down, hurrying to get things to the inside from the outside.

I made the comment, "Well, I guess fate has it that our clothes won't dry today."

She said, "Let's just take these clothes into our clothes dryers and let the dryers do the rest."

This conversation sounds mundane on the surface, but it had an enormous impact on me.

Fate dealt the storm, but I had control over the drying.

Later in the week, she and I met again, and conversed about our beliefs. She was a nun at one time, I, a fallen Catholic. We talked about fate and about free will and how we lived in a balance between the two.

To make a long story short, there are things we can control (drying the clothes), and things we can't (the lightening storm). But always, the responsibility that a human must step up to is to make a decision based on the circumstances that are given. That's free will, and that's also the root of optimism.

Thanks for a very thought-provoking Hub.


ColdWarBaby 8 years ago


Firstly, it’s ColdWarBaby.  I would never be so inconsiderate of you.  Most people here address me as CWB.  Please feel free to do so yourself.

Secondly, I’m not really sure what point you’re attempting to make.  I don’t know if you actually read my previous response to Paraglider.  I clearly state that there are moral values which ALL HUMAN BEINGS have in common.  They are the most basic and GOOD values that exist.  That it is wrong to kill and wrong to deny help to those in need are just two I mention.

Thirdly, please don’t interject christian fundamentalism into this.  I have no use for ANY organized religion and will not enter into any debate on the subject.  Such discussions are invariably fruitless.  Churches and worship are nothing more than a variation of nationalism; my country right or wrong, my god is the only true god.  Both are pathological psychoses.  There is only one commandment that is relevant and that is “thou shalt not kill”.  If the human race were sufficiently evolved to actually obey that one, there would be no need for any others and religion would be filed away in the mythology section were it belongs.  Furthermore, humans are naturally imbued with the same moral imperatives the world over.  The fact that they speak of them in a different language does not reduce their validity. 

It is primarily those who seek power and dominance, such as theocrats, high priests,politicians and heads of industry, who seem devoid of the basic decency allotted to the vast majority of the species.  These supremacists, believing themselves superior to all others, take great pains to keep alive conflicts based upon meaningless religious and ethnic “differences”.  This tactic helps to keep the common, inferior masses at each others throats rather than those of their masters.  

"Religion is excellent stuff for keeping the common people quiet."   -- Napoleon Bonaparte

As far as voting is concerned, today it is almost pointless.  The last two presidential elections where blatantly rigged.  Whoever occupies the white house will be anointed by the fascist corporatocracy, not elected by the people.

“Those who cast the votes decide nothing; those who count the votes decide everything."--Joseph Stalin

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Sally - thanks for that. Linking Free Will to Optimism is incisive. I like it.

CWB - I'd never encourage the idea that voting is pointless. Vote rigging is very much easier if the votes cast are at least similar in number. It's much harder to bury a landslide. And a landslide does send a message.

ColdWarBaby 8 years ago

No message, however powerful, has any impact if no one is allowed to hear it. As the wheel turns round again the sad time will come when the votes, in order to be counted, will have to be cast in blood. This is the source of my constant anguish, the utter needlessness of it, the endless repitition of the same mindless cycle. Is extinction the only thing that will stop it?

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 8 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

CWB - I understand where you're coming from, but beware of prophesy! Trends can be overtaken by unforeseen developments. Chaos Theory explains pretty well why we can't forecast even the weather for more than a few days. We can watch, and warn.

Ananta65 8 years ago

My apologies, Coldwarbaby. I suspect Microsoft’s spelling checker, but even then. I didn’t mean to be inconsiderate.

I was primarily responding on your statement that “And since we disagree, the only solution is a fight to the death.” Please don’t confuse my reference to the commandments with christian fundamentalism. In the first place, I’m not a christian and second I’m not a fundamentalist. Having said that and looking at the majority of today’s societies I think it’s safe to say that the basic rules of engagement roughly correspond to those commandments. As far as I’m concerned these commandments are more an example of common sense than some religious law. Look beyond your aversion of religion to the essence of these rules of engagement. In ANY society (whether it’s based on christianity or not) you will find that people have agreed that you’re not allowed to steal, not allowed to kill, and told to show respect for others. The latter may be limited more varying from one society to the next, but there are – like you also say yourself – basic moral values all humans have in common. That’s all I wanted to point out.

ColdWarBaby 8 years ago

No apology required Ananta65. 

Your response brings us very much in line with each other. 

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the content of the commandments.  They are, after all, the instinctive values we all share.  My main concern is the fact that people have been convinced that they do not naturally posess these attributes and that they must worship and grovel before some priesthood in order to attain them.

Bbudoyono profile image

Bbudoyono 6 years ago

Very well written and inspiring. Thanks Paraglider..

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Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Bbudoyono - thanks for finding this oldie, Glad you enjoyed it :)

tonymac04 profile image

tonymac04 6 years ago from South Africa

Glad I found this oldie, because it's a goodie!

I particularly like: "It's time to grow up, time to reject the soundbite culture that actively encourages stupidity and bigotry, from whatever persuasion it comes. There is a need for optimistic campaigning, even against formidable opposition, for tilting at windmills if you like, but let it be informed by rationality and humanity."

That pretty much sums it up for me.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom.

Love and peace


Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Thanks Tony. This one has been resting, like an old port, for a long time. Not sure it has matured any though :)

Micky Dee profile image

Micky Dee 5 years ago

Amen Sir!

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Paraglider 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi Micky - thanks for cruising my stuff tonight :)

mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 5 years ago from Florida

I decided to visit you after reading your excellent comments on James Watkins' "education" hub. Because I had written a hub on Candide, I chose this one to read. My hub was meant to be humorous while yours is very serious -- and very well written.

One message I got from Voltaire is, "We must cultivate our gardens." We must strive to make our little world a better place. This may sound simplistic, but I do think amelioration is an important goal. I would love for you to comment on my little hub.

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi mysterylady - I like James's material for the most part, but don't let him away with nonsense (he wouldn't expect me to!) I'll check out your Candide hub later today. Thanks for the visit :)

Talisker profile image

Talisker 4 years ago from UK

Another great hub! I really enjoyed this one, together with the comments. It's funny, people are essentially singing from the same hymn sheet, but I do think there's an almost primal instict which runs through the back bones of people, which allows greed, laziness, gluttony...(basically the opposite of most of the commandments) to overcome them. Civilisation is a way of masking it and in some cases overcoming it, but I think it's just too prevalent in the global population to allow peace to reign... my point might not be coming across very's late(!)

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 4 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Hi Talisker - Civilisation has a lot to answer for, but the alternative is unthinkable, so we have to make of it what we can and pragmatically apply Tiger Balm to the bits that hurt! Everything isn't for the best, but that's no reason to stop trying :)

Talisker profile image

Talisker 4 years ago from UK

Yes, I suppose the rise of women is a relatively new phenomenon. It'll be interesting to see what its effects will be across, not only the west, but the globe. I think there is an element of fear that exists in some cultures where they feel that unleashing women may usurp men altogether....(I'm not saying by the way that the cure to the worlds ills is putting more women in government!! but it's an experiment, I'd like to see the results of.)

As to the tiger balm.... I agree

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 4 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Well, even Saudi has fielded one woman judo contestant to this year's Olympics. A very small step but a very radical one for that culture. There is always hope.

minikitten profile image

minikitten 3 years ago from England

"The best of all possible worlds," This philosophy is one of my favourites, I don't personally live by it but its strength is outstanding. Much like the theory of 'God' (or Gods, it goes for every religion) this belief is impossible to argue against. War, famine, death are all the best the could possibly be an without them we would not live in our world, as our world is "the best of all possible worlds," then every bad thing happens so that the world can continue to be the best. Likewise you could argue that God causes bad things to happen for the greater good, a good that humans are incapable of imagining because God did not intend us to understand because if we understood then the greater good would not happen.

You must of course consider that Voltaire himself did not believe that this is the best of all possible worlds; Pangloss was portrayed in such as way as to convince the reader that his philosophy was ridiculous, a factor which I believe has affected your view of his ideals. Candide is a remarkable work which was written to provoke debate, to prompt personal thought upon the teachings of leaders, philosophers and religion.

It's worth noting that although Candide followed Pangloss's philosophy for much on the book, he did not act accordingly. You made a good point to say that acceptance of the world being the best it could be is not optimism, as optimism is based in the belief that the world will improve based of individual actions and accomplishments. Although Candide believed that he lived in the greatest world, he still strived to improve his lot in life. His unrelenting search for Cunegonde demonstrates his attempts to improve this 'perfect' world. He repeatedly runs away from persecution, indicating that he does not believe that his death or imprisonment is part of a 'grand plan'. Pangloss would argue that the choices Candide makes are all part of the perfect world and that Candide was always meant to make them, yet in the end Candide expresses Voltaire's own view "but we must cultivate our garden." Of course Voltaire intended his readers to agree with him, theref0re most people familiar with the book will give Candide's philosophy much more weight than Pangloss's.

But who is to say that the debate Voltaire discussed was not always part of the grand scheme, that he was always meant to write such as book and in doing so did not deviate from the creation of this "the best of all possible worlds."

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 3 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Good to see a Pangloss sympathiser responding! I don't think the position is without merit; it is certainly morally superior to many possible stances. However, I think that the less certain we are even of the existence of a divine creator, far less an 'interested spirit', the more suspect Pangloss's philosophy becomes. If you take the view (borne out by history) that the most influential agent in our environment is ourselves (nature excepted), does it not behove us to work hard for the betterment of that environment?

Lots to think about!

minikitten profile image

minikitten 3 years ago from England

Ah but that is the beauty of this philosophy; whether Pangloss was correct or whether he wasn't would have no bearing on the outcome of actions or the state of the world whatsoever. While Pangloss spoke from a view which assumed intelligent design or a divine creator he was describing destiny.

If there is no destiny and Pangloss is a fool then yes, clearly we should (and do) attempt to change our lives or our societies for the better. But suppose it is our destiny to change the things we do and take the actions we take, since we cannot reverse time and take a different path then it is impossible to say with certainty that we have any choice in our lives. In effect, everything was supposed to happen.

The two philosophies seem to be on very different levels, the practice of 'cultivating your garden' is a very down to earth notion and is appealing to mankind. It allows free will and who doesn't want that? But the notion the this is 'the best of all possible worlds' is, well, it's a bit fluffy. It is the type of thing you would associate with Greek philosophers or a very relaxed culture who prioritise meditation. This isn't a bad thing, they are simply worlds apart.

What is worth some thought is that like a divine creator; destiny and free will are unprovable. Philosophical theories never become laws and make for some very interesting and amusing arguments (the church of the FSP comes to mind). Anyhow the thought I wish to impress is; how can you be sure that the actions you take to improve your life were not always going to happen, therefore how can you be sure that this is not the best possible life?

Science now suggests that a persons brain is genetically predisposed to act a certain way or make certain decisions, does that not also question free will?

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 3 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

Two very different questions. There is a huge amount of determinism at work in the universe (where determinism doesn't in any way imply predestination by any higher 'intelligence') But there is also no shortage of chaos or randomness, especially at the atomic and subatomic level. The net result of this is that things happen, but it is only retrospectively that we can say they had to happen. Before they happened we were unable to predict them.

It may be that our decisions are more deterministic than we might like to believe. There's no argument against that. But as to the best of all possible Worlds - I have never taken that to mean the only possible world in a deterministic sense. I think Pangloss meant merely 'ours not to reason why'. Personally, I have no difficulty imagining a better world than we now have to live in. A world that was not dominated by debt-interest based economies would be a start!

minikitten profile image

minikitten 3 years ago from England

I disagree, while subatomic particles often appear to act randomly I believe that true 'randomness' is impossible. Our knowledge has not yet reached the point where we can see the pattern, for example the growth pattern of leaves, branches and stems were once thought to be random yet we know know they grow in a specific way (I'm not sure how to word this but the number phi determines and predicts their growth). Likewise I agree that we can only analyze events retrospectively, but that does not mean to say they weren't going to happen anyway and the world is not a better place for them.

I would take Pangloss's word in a more literal sense, I wholeheartedly agree that the world would be better without debt-interest based economies but that does not mean that at this moment such a world is possible.

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 3 years ago from Kyle, Scotland Author

I'd say that the issue is that the universe is so complex that it is (and always will be) impossible to know all of the conditions and states that 'conspire' to produce any event. This, coupled with the fact that such knowledge can't be obtained without affecting the universe. Free will, in certain circumstances at least, remains the least bad macro description of our experience. If we held the key to deterministic analysis of complex phenomena, there would be no need ever to hold elections because we'd know in advance how the people would vote. Can you see that working in the near future?

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