Discipline: Philosophy

Doctrine that the universe is becoming progressively and inevitably better.

This may be for religious reasons involving the working out of some grand design, or for reasons connected with late 18th-century optimism concerning inevitable progress and the perfectibility of man, inspired by scientific and technological progress and revolutionary political ideas.

In theology it can also refer to the doctrine that God is benevolent but not omnipotent, and that we must therefore co-operate with Him.

An anticipation of something like the first view can perhaps be seen in Plato's nephew Speusippus (c. 409-337 BC) and certain Pythagoreans in the 4th century BC, according to Aristotle (Metaphysics, 1072.b.31).


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