The character of Pangloss takes to the extreme the idea of this being the "best of all possible worlds" in which everything happens for a reason. For example, he uses a chain of reasoning to prove that if it were not for Syphilis, we would not have chocolate. I want you to indulge in a little Panglossian reasoning. Here are some decidedly negative topics. Use Panglossian logic to explain why at least three of them are in fact a necessary part of the best of all possible worlds.
- Childhood hunger in America
- School shootings
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First, let's explore Pangloss's theory regarding the "best of all possible worlds" by showing yet another example. Candide himself subscribes to this theory when the Dutch Captain's death occurs for a reason:
You see ... that crime is sometimes punished: that rascal of a Dutch captain met the fate he deserved.
This is an incredibly deceptive and overly optimistic (and even overly idealistic) worldview that can continually be proved false, but it is an exciting assignment to take a few of those topics and debate them with Panglossian reasoning! Here are a few that work well:
ISIS: The prevailing Panglossian reasoning is that religious war will prove the right religion. It matters not that there are all sorts of killings. Islam and Judaism and Christianity are at odds. Let's find out who wins—this will prove who the "real" God is!
Childhood Hunger in America: The prevailing Panglossian reasoning here is population control. There are too many births in America! Look at all of these babies being born to people who can't feed them! Their starvation is the "best of all possible worlds" because they can't be fed, so they should cease to exist. More food for the rest of us!
Cancer: The prevailing Panglossian reasoning here is "the survival of the fittest." Those who have cancer have one of two problems: they are weak-natured or they have made life-decisions (such as not eating organic foods) that have directly caused their demise. We need not perpetuate weakness in this society! And we also need not perpetuate the use of chemicals and hormones in our foods that cause this disease! Anyone having cancer should cease to exist so that our population can be stronger and more natural.
I would like to conclude by mentioning the important fact that Martin is ALWAYS a perfect foil to Pangloss whether represented by Pangloss himself or by Candide's acceptance of Pangloss's overly optimistic theories. For example, at one point, Candide says this (pointing to his adherence to the "best of all possible worlds"):
Sir, no doubt you think that all is for the best in the physical world and in the moral, and nothing could have been otherwise?
But it is Martin's reply that provides the perfect answer for Pangloss's theories:
I think nothing of the sort; I think that everything goes awry with us, that no one knows his rank or his job or what he is doing or what he should do.
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