In the spring of 1672, German philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz arrived in Paris, home of France's two greatest philosopher-theologians of the period, Antoine Arnauld and Nicolas de Malebranche. The meeting of these three men represents a profoundly important moment in the history of philosophical and religious thought.
In The Best of All Possible Worlds, Steven Nadler tells the story of a clash between radically divergent worldviews. At its heart are the dramatic--and often turbulent--relationships between these brilliant and resolute individuals. Despite their wildly different views and personalities, the three philosophers shared a single, passionate concern: resolving the problem of evil. Why is it that, in a world created by an all-powerful, all-wise, and infinitely just God, there is sin and suffering? Why do bad things happen to good people, and good things to bad people?
In The Best of All Possible Worlds brings to life a debate that obsessed its participants, captivated European intellectuals, and continues to inform our ways of thinking about God, morality, and the world.
"The centerpiece of this intellectual history is a vicious late 17th-century debate between three unlikely combatants. . . . Nadler's superb study makes for a larger space for Leibniz, Malebranche, and Arnauld alongside such giants of the period as Descartes and Spinoza."
"I can't imagine a better guide to 17th-century philosophical thought."
Washington Post Book World
"Why did a loving God create a world marred by so much evil? In three seventeenth-century intellectuals who wrestled with this question, Nadler recognizes how a single inquiry can profoundly engage markedly different minds."
"The Best of All Possible Worlds is a wonderfully engaging book. Nadler, with his characteristic clarity, has produced a true and rare philosophical page-turner."
--Michael Della Rocca