Best of all possible worlds

The phrase "the best of all possible worlds" (French: le meilleur des mondes possibles; German: Die beste aller möglichen Welten) was coined by the German polymath Gottfried Leibniz in his 1710 work Essais de Théodicée sur la bonté de Dieu, la liberté de l'homme et l'origine du mal (Essays of Theodicy on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man and the Origin of Evil). The claim that the actual world is the best of all possible worlds is the central argument in Leibniz's theodicy, or his attempt to solve the problem of evil.

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Bernhard Christoph Francke
Gottfried Leibniz, the philosopher who coined the term "best of all possible worlds" in his 1710 work Théodicée.

Problem of evil

Among his many philosophical interests and concerns, Leibniz took on this question of theodicy: If God is omnibenevolent, omnipotent and omniscient, how do we account for the suffering and injustice that exists in the world? Historically, attempts to answer the question have been made using various arguments, for example, by explaining away evil or reconciling evil with good.

Leibniz outlined his perfect world theory in his work The Monadology, stating the argument in five statements:

  1. God has the idea of infinitely many universes.
  2. Only one of these universes can actually exist.
  3. God's choices are subject to the principle of sufficient reason, that is, God has reason to choose one thing or another.
  4. God is good.
  5. Therefore, the universe that God chose to exist is the best of all possible worlds.[1]

To further understand his argument, these five statements can be grouped in three main premises. The first premise (corresponding to the first and second statements) state that God can only choose one universe from the infinite amount of possible universes. (The term "one universe" does not necessarily mean a single three-dimensional physical reality, but refers to the sum total of God's creation, and thus might include multiple worlds.) The second premise (the third and fourth statements) state that God is a perfect existence, and he makes decisions based on reason. The third premise (the fifth statement) concludes that the existing world, chosen by God, is the best.

Leibniz used Christianity to back up the validity of all the premises. For the first premise, God's existence and role as the creator of the world was proven by the Bible.[2] The second premise is proven since "God acts always in the most perfect and most desirable manner possible".[3] Therefore, His choice will always be the best, and only perfect existence can make perfect decision throughout time. Since all the premises are right, then Leibniz concluded, "The universe that God chose to exist is the best of all possible worlds".[1]

To set his argument, Leibniz wrestled with the problem of sin and evil in the world that obviously exists and is considered as the imperfection of the world. Leibniz, in this letter said, "I do not believe that a world without evil, preferable in order to ours, is possible; otherwise it would have been preferred. It is necessary to believe that the mixture of evil has produced the greatest possible good: otherwise the evil would not have been permitted".[4] In other words, if a world without evil is more perfect in any way, then evil would have not happened, and the world without evil would be our world instead. God put evilness in the world for us to understand goodness which is achieved through contrasting it with evil. Once we understood evil and good, it gives us the ability to produce the "greatest possible good" out of all the goodness. Evil fuels goodness, which leads to a perfect system.

Free will versus determinism

For Leibniz, an additional central concern is the matter of reconciling human freedom (indeed, God's own freedom) with the determinism inherent in his own theory of the universe. Leibniz' solution casts God as a kind of "optimizer" of the collection of all original possibilities: Since he is good and omnipotent, and since he chose this world out of all possibilities, this world must be good—in fact, this world is the best of all possible worlds.

In his writing, "Discourse on Metaphysics", Leibniz first establishes that God is an absolutely perfect being. He says people can logically conclude this through reason since "the works must bear the imprint of the workman, because we can learn who he was just by inspecting them".[5] He calls this the Principle of Perfection, which says that God's knowledge and power is to the highest degree, more so than any human can comprehend. Due to God's omnipotence, Leibniz makes the premise that God has thought of every single possibility there is to be thought of before creating this world. His perfection gives him the ability to think "beyond the power of a finite mind", so he has sufficient reason to choose one world over the other.[6]

Out of all the possibilities, God chose the very best world because not only is God powerful, but he is also morally good. He writes "the happiness of minds is God's principal aim, which He carries out as far as the general harmony will permit", meaning a benevolent God will only do actions with the intention of good will towards his creation.[6] If one supposed that this world is not the best, then it assumes that the creator of the universe is not knowledgeable enough, powerful enough, or inherently good, for an inherently good God would have created the best world to the best of his ability. It would overall be a contradiction to his good and perfect nature, and so the universe that God has chosen to create can only be the best of all possible worlds.[7]

On the one hand, this view might help us rationalize some of what we experience: Imagine that all the world is made of good and evil. The best possible world would have the most good and the least evil. Courage is better than no courage. It might be observed, then, that without evil to challenge us, there can be no courage. Since evil brings out the best aspects of humanity, evil is regarded as necessary. So in creating this world God made some evil to make the best of all possible worlds. On the other hand, the theory explains evil not by denying it or even rationalizing it—but simply by declaring it to be part of the optimum combination of elements that comprise the best possible godly choice. Leibniz thus does not claim that the world is overall very good, but that because of the necessary interconnections of goods and evils, God, though omnipotent, could not improve it in one way without making it worse in some other way.[8]

Giovanni Gentile, in his work The General Theory of Mind as Pure Act, claimed that if God had created everything to fall into line with the most favorable possible condition, it would suppose that all of reality is pre-realized and determined in the mind of God. Therefore, the apparent free will displayed by both God, by his necessity of being bound by what is the most good, and humanity in their limitations derived from God to be in line with the most good, are not free wills at all but entirely determinate. Thus ultimately relegated to blind naturalistic processes entrapping both God and humanity to necessity, robbing both of any true freely creative will.

Criticism

Critics of Leibniz, such as Voltaire, argue that the world contains an amount of suffering too great to justify optimism. While Leibniz argued that suffering is good because it incites human will, critics argue that the degree of suffering is too severe to justify belief that God has created the "best of all possible worlds". Leibniz also addresses this concern by considering what God desires to occur (his antecedent will) and what God allows to occur (his consequent will).[9] Others, such as the Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga, criticized Leibniz's theodicy by arguing that there probably is not such a thing as the best of all possible worlds, since one can always conceive a better world, such as a world with one more morally righteous person.[10]

The Theodicy was deemed illogical by the philosopher Bertrand Russell.[11] Russell argues that moral and physical evil must result from metaphysical evil (imperfection). But imperfection is merely finitude or limitation; if existence is good, as Leibniz maintains, then the mere existence of evil requires that evil also be good. In addition, libertarian Christian theology (not related to political libertarianism) defines sin as not necessary but contingent, the result of free will. Russell maintains that Leibniz failed to logically show that metaphysical necessity (divine will) and human free will are not incompatible or contradictory.

The mathematician Paul du Bois-Reymond, in his "Leibnizian Thoughts in Modern Science", wrote that Leibniz thought of God as a mathematician:

As is well known, the theory of the maxima and minima of functions was indebted to him for the greatest progress through the discovery of the method of tangents. Well, he conceives God in the creation of the world like a mathematician who is solving a minimum problem, or rather, in our modern phraseology, a problem in the calculus of variations – the question being to determine among an infinite number of possible worlds, that for which the sum of necessary evil is a minimum.

The statement that "we live in the best of all possible worlds" drew scorn, most notably from Voltaire, who lampooned it in his comic novella Candide by having the character Dr. Pangloss (a parody of Leibniz and Maupertuis) repeat it like a mantra. From this, the adjective "Panglossian" describes a person who believes that the world about us is the best possible one.

While Leibniz does state this universe is the best possible version of itself, the standard for goodness does not seem clear to many of his critics. To Leibniz, the best universe means a world that is “the simplest in hypotheses and the richest in phenomena”,[7] in addition to the “happiness of minds” being God's main goal.[7] Voltaire, Bertrand Russell, and other critics seem to equate goodness of the universe to no evil or evil acts whatsoever, presuming that a universe that did not contain evil would be "better" and that God could have created such a universe, but chose not to. According to Leibniz, that is not the case. He believes that if a better alternative existed “God would have brought it into actuality”.[7] Essentially, Leibniz affirms that no human can truly think up of a better universe because they lack a holistic understanding of the universe, and God, who has that holistic understanding, has already chosen the best option. All of this shifts the meaning of goodness from morality and actions to the quality and phenomena of this universe's existence. Despite that, the concept of the goodness of the universe is still a point of major contention in Leibniz's argument, as someone could always argue about the lack of goodness in the universe based on those parameters.

While not directly criticizing Leibniz, Spinoza holds a drastically different view on creation and the universe. Spinoza believes “that everything that God thinks or conceives must also exist”,[12] and he combines God's will and God's understanding where Leibniz separates them. In other words, God cannot imagine an infinite number of worlds and “as a separate act of will” choose one of those to create.[12] How does Spinoza explain creation then? To put it simply, everything in the universe “is a direct result of God's nature”.[12] The moment God thinks of something, it exists. As there are not an infinite amount of universes (according to Spinoza and Leibniz) God must have only conceived of one universe. This, however, still runs into the problem of the existence of evil. How can God, in his perfection, create a world capable of evil if the world is an extension of his mind? In any case, Spinoza still tries to justify a non-infinite basis for the universe, where reality is everything God has ever thought of.

Other philosophers

Aquinas, using Scholasticism, treats the "Best of all possible worlds" problem in the Summa Theologica (1273):[13]

Objection 1: It seems that God does not exist; because if one of two contraries be infinite, the other would be altogether destroyed. But the word "God" means that He is infinite goodness. If, therefore, God existed, there would be no evil discoverable; but there is evil in the world. Therefore God does not exist.

He counters this in general by the quinque viae, and in particular with this refutation:

Reply to Objection 1: As Augustine says (Enchiridion xi): "Since God is the highest good, He would not allow any evil to exist in His works, unless His omnipotence and goodness were such as to bring good even out of evil." This is part of the infinite goodness of God, that He should allow evil to exist, and out of it produce good.

The theological theory of pandeism has been classed as a logical derivation of this proposition with the contention that:

If divine becoming were complete, God's kenosis--God's self-emptying for the sake of love--would be total. In this pandeistic view, nothing of God would remain separate and apart from what God would become. Any separate divine existence would be inconsistent with God's unreserved participation in the lives and fortunes of the actualized phenomena."[14]:67

See also

References

  1. ^ a b Leibniz, Gottfried (1991). Discourse on Metaphysics and Other Essays. Indianapolis: Daniel Garber and Roger Ariew. pp. 53–55. ISBN 0872201325.
  2. ^ "Leibniz: The Best of All Possible Worlds". Colin Temple. 2012-03-01. Retrieved 2016-05-17.
  3. ^ Descartes, René; Spinoza, Benedictus; Leibniz, Gottfried (1960). The Rationalists: René Descartes, translated by John Veitch: Discourse on method, Meditations. Doubleday. p. 412.
  4. ^ Leibniz, Gottfried (2006). The Shorter Leibniz Texts: A Collection of New Translations. Bloomsbury Academic. ISBN 9780826489517.
  5. ^ Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm. Discourse on Metaphysics. Trans. Jonathan F. Bennett. 2004. 1.
  6. ^ a b Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm. Discourse on Metaphysics. Trans. Jonathan F. Bennett. 2004. 3.
  7. ^ a b c d Look, Brandon C. "Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University, 22 Dec. 2007. [1]
  8. ^ J. Franklin, Leibniz's solution to the problem of evil, Think 5 (2003), 97-101.
  9. ^ Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Peter Remnant, Jonathan Francis Bennett (1996). New Essays on Human Understanding. Cambridge University Press. pp. 182-190 ISBN 0-521-57660-1, ISBN 978-0-521-57660-4.
  10. ^ Plantinga explained this point in an interview for Closer to Truth, with Lawrence Krauss. "Best of all possible worlds". Archived from the original on 2013-07-30. Retrieved 2011-03-20.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  11. ^ Russell, Bertrand. A Critical Exposition of the Philosophy of Leibniz. London: George Allen & Unwin (1900).
  12. ^ a b c Phemister, P. (2006). The rationalists: Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  13. ^ "SUMMA THEOLOGIAE: The existence of God (Prima Pars, Q. 2)". www.newadvent.org.
  14. ^ Lane, William C. (January 2010). "Leibniz's Best World Claim Restructured". American Philosophical Journal. 47 (1): 57–84. Retrieved 9 March 2014.

External links

Agnostic existentialism

Agnostic existentialism is a type of existentialism which makes no claim to know whether there is a "greater picture"; rather, it simply asserts that the greatest truth is that which the individual chooses to act upon. It feels that to know the greater picture, whether there is one or not, is impossible, or impossible so far, or of little value. Like the Christian existentialist, the agnostic existentialist believes existence is subjective.

Argument from love

The Argument from love is an argument for the existence of God. The best-known defender of the argument is Roger Scruton.

Argument from miracles

The argument from miracles is an argument for the existence of God that relies on the belief that events witnessed and described as miracles – i.e. as events not explicable by natural or scientific laws – indicate the intervention of the supernatural.

One example of this argument is the Christological argument: the claim that historical evidence proves that Jesus Christ rose from the dead and that this can only be explained if God exists. Another is the claim that many of the Qur'an's prophecies have been fulfilled and that this too can only be explained if God (Allah) exists.

Defenders of the argument include C. S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton and William of Ockham.

Candide

Candide, ou l'Optimisme (; French: [kɑ̃did]) is a French satire first published in 1759 by Voltaire, a philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment. The novella has been widely translated, with English versions titled Candide: or, All for the Best (1759); Candide: or, The Optimist (1762); and Candide: Optimism (1947). It begins with a young man, Candide, who is living a sheltered life in an Edenic paradise and being indoctrinated with Leibnizian optimism by his mentor, Professor Pangloss. The work describes the abrupt cessation of this lifestyle, followed by Candide's slow and painful disillusionment as he witnesses and experiences great hardships in the world. Voltaire concludes with Candide, if not rejecting Leibnizian optimism outright, advocating a deeply practical precept, "we must cultivate our garden", in lieu of the Leibnizian mantra of Pangloss, "all is for the best" in the "best of all possible worlds".

Candide is characterized by its tone as well as by its erratic, fantastical, and fast-moving plot. A picaresque novel with a story similar to that of a more serious coming-of-age narrative (Bildungsroman), it parodies many adventure and romance clichés, the struggles of which are caricatured in a tone that is bitter and matter-of-fact. Still, the events discussed are often based on historical happenings, such as the Seven Years' War and the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. As philosophers of Voltaire's day contended with the problem of evil, so does Candide in this short novel, albeit more directly and humorously. Voltaire ridicules religion, theologians, governments, armies, philosophies, and philosophers. Through Candide, he assaults Leibniz and his optimism.Candide has enjoyed both great success and great scandal. Immediately after its secretive publication, the book was widely banned to the public because it contained religious blasphemy, political sedition, and intellectual hostility hidden under a thin veil of naïveté. However, with its sharp wit and insightful portrayal of the human condition, the novel has since inspired many later authors and artists to mimic and adapt it. Today, Candide is recognized as Voltaire's magnum opus and is often listed as part of the Western canon. It is among the most frequently taught works of French literature. The British poet and literary critic Martin Seymour-Smith listed Candide as one of the 100 most influential books ever written.

Candide (operetta)

Candide is an operetta with music composed by Leonard Bernstein, based on the 1759 novella of the same name by Voltaire. The operetta was first performed in 1956 with a libretto by Lillian Hellman; but since 1974 it has been generally performed with a book by Hugh Wheeler which is more faithful to Voltaire's novel. The primary lyricist was the poet Richard Wilbur. Other contributors to the text were John Latouche, Dorothy Parker, Lillian Hellman, Stephen Sondheim, John Mauceri, John Wells, and Bernstein himself. Maurice Peress and Hershy Kay contributed orchestrations. Although unsuccessful at its premiere, Candide has now overcome the unenthusiastic reaction of early audiences and critics and achieved enormous popularity. It is very popular among major music schools as a student show because of the quality of its music and the opportunities it offers to student singers.

Compossibility

Compossibility is a philosophical concept from Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. According to Leibniz, a complete individual thing (for example a person) is characterized by all its properties, and these determine its relations with other individuals. The existence of one individual may contradict the existence of another. A possible world is made up of individuals that are compossible—that is, individuals that can exist together. Leibniz indicates that a world is a set of compossible things, however, that a world is a kind of collection of things that God could bring into existence. For not even God can bring into existence a world in which there is some contradiction among its members or their properties.When Leibniz speaks of a possible world, he means a set of compossible, finite things that God could have brought into existence if he were not constrained by the goodness that is part of his nature. The actual world, on the other hand, is simply that set of finite things that is instantiated by God, because it is greatest in goodness, reality and perfection. Naturally, the fact that we are here experiencing this world—the actual world—means that there is at least one possible world. In Leibniz's view, there are an infinite number of possible worlds.According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Leibniz's Modal Metaphysics by Brandon C. Look, views on "compossibility" and the closely related best of all possible worlds argument are to be found in On the Ultimate Origination of Things, The Discourse in Metaphysics, On Freedom, and throughout his works. The term itself is found in The Philosophical Writings III [Die philosophischen Schriften III] when Leibniz writes to Louis Bourguet.Alain Badiou borrows this concept in defining philosophy as the creation of a "space of compossibility" for heterogeneous truths.

Gilles Deleuze uses it in Cinema II taking support from Leibniz's explanation of the problem of future contingents.

Discourse on Metaphysics

The Discourse on Metaphysics (French: Discours de métaphysique, 1686) is a short treatise by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz in which he develops a philosophy concerning physical substance, motion and resistance of bodies, and God's role within the universe. It is one of the few texts presenting in a consistent form the earlier philosophy of Leibniz.

The Discourse is closely connected to the epistolary discussion which he carried with Antoine Arnauld. However Leibniz refrained from sending the full text and it remained unpublished until the mid 19th century. Arnauld received only an abridged version in 37 points which resumed whole paragraphs and steered their discussion.

The metaphysical considerations proceed from God to the substantial world and back to the spiritual realm. The starting point for the work is the conception of God as an absolutely perfect being (I), that God is good but goodness exists independently of God (a rejection of divine command theory) (II), and that God has created the world in an ordered and perfect fashion (III–VII).

At the time of its writing Discourse made the controversial claim That the opinions of... scholastic philosophers are not to be wholly despised (XI). Early work in modern philosophy during the 17th century were based on a rejection of many of the precepts of medieval philosophy. Leibniz saw the failures of scholasticism merely as one of rigor. [If] some careful and meditative mind were to take the trouble to clarify and direct their thoughts in the manner of analytic geometers, he would find a great treasure of important truths, wholly demonstrable.

Leibniz claimed that God's omnipotence was in no way impugned by the thought of evil, but was rather solidified. He endorsed the view that God chose the best of all possible worlds. In other words, Leibniz believed this world (or reality) to be the best there possibly could be — taking all facts into account, no better world could be imagined, even if we believed that we could think of something more perfect.

Leibniz's conception of physical substance is expanded upon in The Monadology.

Irenaean theodicy

The Irenaean theodicy is a Christian theodicy (a response to the problem of evil). It defends the probability of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent (all-powerful and perfectly loving) God in the face of evidence of evil in the world. Numerous variations of theodicy have been proposed which all maintain that, while evil exists, God is either not responsible for creating evil, or he is not guilty for creating evil. Typically, the Irenaean theodicy asserts that the world is the best of all possible worlds because it allows humans to fully develop. Most versions of the Irenaean theodicy propose that creation is incomplete, as humans are not yet fully developed, and experiencing evil and suffering is necessary for such development.

Second-century philosopher and theologian Irenaeus, after whom the theodicy is named, proposed a two-stage creation process in which humans require free will and the experience of evil to develop. Another early Christian theologian, Origen, presented a response to the problem of evil which cast the world as a schoolroom or hospital for the soul; theologian Mark Scott has argued that Origen, rather than Irenaeus, ought to be considered the father of this kind of theodicy. Friedrich Schleiermacher argued in the nineteenth century that God must necessarily create flawlessly, so this world must be the best possible world because it allows God's purposes to be naturally fulfilled. In 1966, philosopher John Hick discussed the similarities of the preceding theodicies, calling them all "Irenaean". He supported the view that creation is incomplete and argued that the world is best placed for the full moral development of humans, as it presents genuine moral choices. British philosopher Richard Swinburne proposed that, to make a free moral choice, humans must have experience of the consequences of their own actions and that natural evil must exist to provide such choices.

The development of process theology has challenged the Irenaean tradition by teaching that God's power is limited and that he cannot be responsible for evil. Twentieth-century philosopher Alvin Plantinga opposed the idea that this is the best possible world, arguing that there could always be at least one more good person, in every possible world. His free will defence was not a theodicy because he was trying to show the logical compatibility of evil and the existence of God, rather than the probability of God. D. Z. Phillips and Fyodor Dostoyevsky challenged the instrumental use of suffering, suggesting that love cannot be expressed through suffering. However, Dostoyevsky also states that the beauty of love is evident, in that love can continue to grow, withstand and overcome even the most evil acts. Michael Tooley argued that the magnitude of suffering is excessive and that, in some cases, cannot lead to moral development. French theologian Henri Blocher criticised Hick's universalism, arguing that such a view negates free will, which was similarly important to the theodicy.

John Chu

John Chu (Chinese: 朱中宜) is an American microprocessor architect, science fiction writer and literary translator.

Karen Lord

Karen Lord (born 22 May 1968) is a Barbadian writer of speculative fiction. Her first novel, Redemption in Indigo (2010), retells the story "Ansige Karamba the Glutton" from Senegalese folklore and her second novel, The Best of All Possible Worlds (2013), is an example of social science fiction. Lord also writes in the sociology of religion.

Leibniz–Clarke correspondence

The Leibniz–Clarke correspondence was a scientific, theological and philosophical debate conducted in an exchange of letters between the German thinker Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and Samuel Clarke, an English supporter of Isaac Newton during the years 1715 and 1716. The exchange began because of a letter Leibniz wrote to Caroline of Ansbach, in which he remarked that Newtonian physics was detrimental to natural theology. Eager to defend the Newtonian view, Clarke responded, and the correspondence continued until the death of Leibniz in 1716.Although a variety of subjects is touched on in the letters, the main interest for modern readers is in the dispute between the absolute theory of space favoured by Newton and Clarke, and Leibniz's relational approach. Also important is the conflict between Clarke's and Leibniz's opinions on free will and whether God must create the best of all possible worlds.Leibniz had published only a book on moral matters, the Theodicée (1710), and his more metaphysical views had never been exposed to a sufficient extent, so the collected letters were met with interest by their contemporaries. The priority dispute between Leibniz and Newton about the calculus was still fresh in the public's mind and it was taken as a matter of course that it was Newton himself who stood behind Clarke's replies.

Natural-law argument

Natural-law argument for the existence of God was especially popular in the eighteenth century as a result of the influence of Sir Isaac Newton. As Bertrand Russell pointed out much later, many of the things we consider to be laws of nature, in fact, are human conventions. Indeed, Albert Einstein has shown that Newton's law of universal gravitation was such a convention, and though elegant and useful, one that did not describe the universe precisely. Most true laws are rather trivial, such as mathematical laws, laws of probability, and so forth, and much less impressive than those that were envisioned by Newton and his followers. Russell wrote:

"If you say, as more orthodox theologians do, that in all the laws which God issues he had a reason for giving those laws rather than others -- the reason, of course, being to create the best universe, although you would never think it to look at it -- if there was a reason for the laws which God gave, then God himself was subject to law, and therefore you do not get any advantage by introducing God as an intermediary. You really have a law outside and anterior to the divine edicts, and God does not serve your purpose, because he is not the ultimate law-giver. In short, this whole argument from natural law no longer has anything like the strength that it used to have."The argument of natural laws as a basis for God was changed by Christian figures such as Thomas Aquinas, in order to fit biblical scripture and establish a Judeo-Christian teleological law.

The Forever War series

The Forever War series is a series of science fiction novels by Joe Haldeman. Not all of them take place in the same future universe.

The Little Willies

The Little Willies is an American alternative country supergroup formed in 2003. It features Norah Jones on piano and vocals, Richard Julian on vocals, Jim Campilongo on guitar, Lee Alexander on bass, and Dan Rieser on drums.

The group formed around a love of country classics. Between members' regular gigs, they first played at New York City’s Living Room. The show led to a series of events, including a benefit concert for public radio station WFUV. The "loose-knit collective" found itself with a growing following. The Little Willies’ self-titled debut album has added to their popularity.

Their first album features covers of tracks by Fred Rose ("Roly Poly"), Hank Williams ("I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive"), Willie Nelson ("Gotta Get Drunk" and "Nightlife"), Townes Van Zandt ("No Place to Fall") and Kris Kristofferson ("Best of All Possible Worlds"). Fusing cover material with a few of their own original compositions, the band delivers what a review by John Metzger describes as "an affable set that occasionally strikes pure gold."Their second album was released in January, 2012 and "features covers from a variety of down-home legends, including Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, and many more."

The Little Willies (album)

The Little Willies is the self-titled debut album by The Little Willies. The album was released after band member Norah Jones had achieved international stardom as a solo artist.

The album features covers of songs by Hank Williams ("I’ll Never Get Out"), Willie Nelson ("Gotta Get Drunk" and "Night Life"), Fred Rose ("Roly Poly"), Townes Van Zandt ("No Place to Fall") and Kris Kristofferson ("Best of All Possible Worlds"). Fusing cover material with a few of their own original compositions, the band delivers what a review by John Metzger describes as "an affable set that occasionally strikes pure gold."

The Man Who Traveled in Elephants

"The Man Who Traveled in Elephants" is a short story written in 1948 by Robert A. Heinlein. It was first published as "The Elephant Circuit" in the October 1957 issue of Saturn Magazine. It later appeared in two Heinlein anthologies, The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag (also titled 6xH; 1959) and The Fantasies of Robert A. Heinlein (1999).

Though this story was not typical of the subject matter of most of Heinlein's writing, it was Heinlein's favorite. It has had a mixed reception compared to his other works. Spider Robinson selected it as one of his life-time favorite stories, and included it in his anthology Best of All Possible Worlds on that basis. Alexei Panshin said that the story "...is a mistake, a sloppy, sentimental fantasy that I suspect was written at the very beginning of Heinlein's career and then went without a buyer until 1957".The story can be viewed as an early manifestation of Heinlein's World as Myth, which featured prominently in his last novels.

The protagonist is a widower who once was a traveling salesman working with his wife. The two of them continued to travel after retirement, scouting territory in order to sell elephants. It becomes clear that these travels were not seriously intended to sell elephants, but were rather a way to continue the life the two had previously enjoyed. On their travels the two of them were accompanied by a collection of imaginary animals. After his wife's death, the protagonist tries to continue this life, but with fading energy and interest. We join him on a bus ride to "The Fair" which he slowly realizes is the afterlife.

The story is usually described as a fantasy. The only fantastic element, however, is the narrator's entry into the afterlife, where he meets with his dead wife and dog, and with the imaginary animals he and his wife invented as traveling companions, as well as a host of other friends. The tone is realistic, as are the descriptions of the narrator's life before he boards the Bus to the Fair. After consideration, it could be considered magic realism.

The Planet Wilson

The Planet Wilson were an indie rock band from Hull, that came from the breakup of the Red Guitars. They were signed to Virgin Records and released two albums in the late 1980s.

The Princess Bride (novel)

The Princess Bride is a 1973 fantasy romance novel by American writer William Goldman. The book combines elements of comedy, adventure, fantasy, romantic love, romance, and fairy tale. It is presented as an abridgment (or "the good parts version") of a longer work by S. Morgenstern, and Goldman's "commentary" asides are constant throughout. It was originally published in the United States by Harcourt Brace, then later by Random House, while in the United Kingdom it was later published by Bloomsbury.

The book was adapted into a 1987 feature film directed by Rob Reiner from a screenplay written by Goldman himself.

William Goldman said, "I've gotten more responses on The Princess Bride than on everything else I've done put together—all kinds of strange outpouring letters. Something in The Princess Bride affects people."A segment of the book was published as "Duel Scene (From The Princess Bride)" in the anthology The Best of All Possible Worlds (1980), which was edited by Spider Robinson. In 2015, a collection of essays on the novel and the film adaptation was published entitled The Princess Bride and Philosophy.

Ulrike Theusner

Ulrike Theusner( born 1982 in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany) is a German artist working primarily in drawing and printmaking. She studied at École Nationale Supérieure d'Arts à la Villa Arson in Nice, France and graduated in 2008 from Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany. Amongst others, her work was exhibited in groupshows at Kunsthalle Darmstadt, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nice, Neues Museum Weimar and several solo shows in New York, Berlin, Frankfurt, Toulouse, Paris and Shanghai. She lives and works between Weimar and Berlin.

Mathematics and
philosophy
Works

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