This is the Best of all Possible Worlds

Hi guys,

As you all know, Leibniz argued that ours is the best of all possible worlds. Now, I already know that every poster will readily object to this suggestion, possibly in terms a worthy site like this ought not advert to.

My question is: Are there any arguments that can be brought to bear in support of Leibniz’ claim? I mean, of course, serious, philosophical arguments?

Just for starters, I believe it can be argued that ours is the best of all possible worlds.

So, what say you guys/gals?

Yours in baited breath,

R

Remark,

Have you read Candide? Voltaire had a fairly good appraisal of the best of all possible worlds…

Hi Tentative,

Thanks for the response. A good start, if I may say so, pointing us in a sensible direction.

Yes, I have read Voltaire. Perhaps I should add, that while I agree with Leibniz’ conclusion, I don’t necessarily go along with all his arguments.

But I still maintain that there are good (theistic) reasons for claiming that ours is the best of all possible worlds.

Regards,

R

Its the only world we have, so the idea of being the best of
all possible worlds is irrellevent. When you only have one choice,
you have no choices.

Kropotkin

Hi Peter,

Thanks for the response. This is the only world we have. Some argue that, on the assumption that God created it, it is the only possible world, and hence, improperly called the ‘best’ (there are no comparatives).

Yet, if others were possible, this is the best.

On what basis are other worlds impossible, do you think?

Best wishes,

R

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropic_principle

Well, it is, perhaps, true, I would argue, that I, for the most part, am in this one, it seems, which goes a long way for me, at least…though I’m happy to include you too… :romance-grouphug:

Hi Oughtist,

A most interesting response. You mean . . ?

Anyway, what, if anything, did Leibniz get wrong?

You see, this world has to be the best possible! There’s no question about it.

Regards,

R

Well, if I believe in free will, then I believe I could have done things other than I did (alternative acts were possible).

Knowing myself, I know that not every decision I’ve made has been the best decision I could have made.

Seems pretty cut and dry that if free will exists, this is not the best of all possible worlds- even if I have to take sole blame for that fact.

Hi Remark,
Unfortunately, my severe finitude as a psychic monad drastically limits my ability to address that question, but I’ll give it some thought. Are you familiar with John King-Farlow? He might have something to say on this (but I really can’t speak for him)…

If I may quote a quote I just read on this topic:

imagine an underpopulated world…

how sweet it would be…

Wonderer,

Why stop there?

A world unpopulated with humans…

how sweet it would be

‘Best’ is a vague and Perspectival word/term/concept. What is best for me may not seem so to you. Like ‘beauty’, is not ‘best’ in the eye of the beholder?
So, first, ‘best’ must be defined. ‘Best’ for whom? For what Perspective? By what measurement? In what context?
Next, all other possible worlds must be known/experienced/perceived in order to make the necessary comparisons in order to come to the conclusion (absurd as it is) that ‘this’ … oops, another problem; to what does ‘this world’ refer. ‘This’ world as I perceive it? ‘This’ world as you perceive it? As a fish perceives it? They are all different ‘worlds’ and also uniquely different from moment to moment. ‘This’ world Now? Now? Now?

The only ‘meaning’ that statement can have is ‘poetic’ because it bears no logical weight in and of itself, and cannot bear up under critical examination alone, without much more information. And I’d think that sufficient information/data would not be possible to present to validate the ‘conclusion’.

I seriously doubt that it can be sucessfully argued.

Hi nameless,

IMO, yours is a telling response, hitting at the heart of the problem. Those (like me) who want to argue that ours is the best of all possible worlds have a lot of defining to do in order to make the claim meaningful. Primarily, what is to be understood by ‘best’ in this context, and from whose point of view.

Difficult and complex though these issues are, I doubt they’re impossible, and so there is hope that arguments can be marshaled to produce the required result.

Leibniz went to great lengths in producing such arguments, even if they’re not all successful. He was also careful to define certain relevant terms, like ‘best’, ‘perfection’, and ways in which comparative worlds are possible.

There is only one actual world, but perhaps others are possible. If our is the best possible world, there has to be something that we can understand that sets it apart from all the others. The difficulty is stating what.

Let’s do that!

Regards,

R

From an egoist’s point of view, I think our free will makes this the best possible. But there could be billions of such worlds making us all equally best. Having free will means there will be regrets, but that’s better than the alternative.

But I could see a better world in the area of creature comforts, say a whole world modeled after pre-Colombian Polynesia. No need for heavy clothes or shelter and you wouldn’t have to cultivate food if you didn’t want to. No infectious disease, especially colds and STD’s :sunglasses:, and maybe no hurricanes and the oceans would be fresh water. Of course there would still be evil which follows from free will, so there would be plenty of moral, social and physical challenges.

Another question to be settled is whether God has free will. If He doesn’t, and what He creates flows of necessity from His nature, then this world is the only possible world, and hence, cannot be called the best (there could be no comparatives). If He has free will, then, presumably, He chose this world from an infinite number of possibles, and He’d have to create the best of the lot (if there was one). But again, what can be meant by this world’s being the best?

Thats what they say in all the worlds!

And thats a huuuuuge if! A totally unsupportable (and rather vapid in it’s use of undefined mundane terms) assertion.

All are/would be unique. Nevertheless, we’d have to have knowledge of ‘all other possible worlds’ to make comparison, which is not possible. We might say that ‘this’ is ‘best’ because I am in it, but we cannot even know that I am not in other, or all, worlds!

Right now, that is not a difficulty, it’s an impossibility.

Please slap me now if I’m abrogating protocol here… my sense is that there should well be some proscription to arguing by quotation, but I haven’t seen anything formal in that regard. Anyhow, thought my second-most favorite Nietzsche quote might be relevant here:

Perhaps this could count towards Leibniz’s position in the sense that, even to be able to ask the question, or rather to put the world into question, is to (re)introduce the possibility of “what is best” to other perspectives, which is all for the best, I think. …errr…

Hi Oughtist,

Thanks for the quotation. It’s the kind of view with which you either agree or disagree - or worse, haven’t a clue whether to do either. Strange, really.

But the question has been raised, and I’m looking for arguments that could support Leibniz’ position (if not his arguments which get him there).

For starters, an important matter is what can properly be meant by ‘best’ in this context. For Leibniz, ‘best’ and ‘most perfect’ were interchangeable terms. I don’t think that they are.

I’m also supposing that God created the world, of course. Otherwise, the issue is of no significance. The God I have in mind is the God of traditional theism, who possesses omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence, etc., and freedom of the will.

Regards,

R