optimism and pessimism

optimism and pessimism
The term ‘optimism’ is first used in English in 1759, in reference to the work of Leibniz . The term ‘pessimism’ is recorded as first used by Coleridge in 1795. The best-known and certainly the starkest expression of pessimism is from the Greek dramatist Sophocles: ‘Not to be born is best, but having seen the light, the next best is to go whence one came as soon as may be’ (Oedipus at Colonus ). Optimistic philosophies include Platonism, with the ruling place assigned to the form of the good, Aristotelianism, with its sense of the harmony of nature and the attainability of ends, Epicureanism, which denies the evil of death, and Stoicism, which denies the evil of pain as well. Christianity can come in either flavour: philosophers have mostly been concerned with the optimistic project of reconciling divine excellence with apparent evil. The most famous result of this exercise ( theodicy ) was the panglossian vision of Leibniz, satirized by Voltaire in Candide . However, Christianity also offers a pessimistic version, with the stress falling on sin, the Fall, the likelihood of predetermined damnation, and the propriety of anguish and guilt. The Eastern religion that is most closely identified with pessimism is Buddhism, where the eightfold path is a training in the renunciation of desire and complete withdrawal from the world. This attitude is again expressed by Schopenhauer, and becomes common in the 20th century. Other elements in a philosophy may be affected by the optimistic or pessimistic temperament, such as susceptibility to scepticism (pessimistic) or realism (optimistic). See also apathy, tender-and tough-minded.

Philosophy dictionary. . 2011.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Optimism — • A metaphysical theory or an emotional disposition. Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Optimism     Optimism     † …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Pessimism — • Term applied in popular language to persons who habitually take a melancholy view of life; or in philosophy, to a system that attempts to account for the presence of evil in the world. Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Pessimism      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Optimism — Positive thinking redirects here. For songs of that title, see Positive Thinking. The Oxford English Dictionary defines optimism as having hopefulness and confidence about the future or successful outcome of something; a tendency to take a… …   Wikipedia

  • pessimism — See optimism and pessimism …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Optimism bias — is the demonstrated systematic tendency for people to be overly optimistic about the outcome of planned actions. This includes over estimating the likelihood of positive events and under estimating the likelihood of negative events. Along with… …   Wikipedia

  • optimism — op‧ti‧mis‧m [ˈɒptmɪzm ǁ ˈɑːp ] noun [uncountable] a feeling or belief that things will get better or be more successful in the future: • There is an air of optimism now in Taiwan. optimism about • Shares gained from renewed optimism about… …   Financial and business terms

  • Pessimism — Is the glass half empty or half full? The pessimist would pick half empty, while the optimist would choose half full. Pessimism, from the Latin word pessimus (worst), is a state of mind in which one perceives life negatively. Value judgments may… …   Wikipedia

  • Pessimism — a belief that the experienced world is the worst possible. It describes a general belief that things are bad, and tend to become worse; or that looks to the eventual triumph of evil over good; it contrasts with optimism, the contrary belief in… …   Mini philosophy glossary

  • Optimism — Op ti*mism, n. [L. optimus the best; akin to optio choice: cf. F. optimisme. See {Option}.] [1913 Webster] 1. (Metaph.) The opinion or doctrine that everything in nature, being the work of God, is ordered for the best, or that the ordering of… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • pessimism — /pes euh miz euhm/, n. 1. the tendency to see, anticipate, or emphasize only bad or undesirable outcomes, results, conditions, problems, etc.: His pessimism about the future of our country depresses me. 2. the doctrine that the existing world is… …   Universalium

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