Religion Past and Present

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Optimism and Pessimism
(1,311 words)

[German Version]

I. Religious Studies – II. Philosophy

I. Religious Studies

Optimism (from Lat. optimus, “best”) and pessimism (from Lat. pessimum, “worst”) are used in the history of religions to characterize attitudes towards the world and this life. Some religions (e.g. Judaism) are described as having an optimistic view of life, while others have been characterized as pessimistic, as for instance religions which originated in India in the 7th to 5th centuries bce: Upanishadic religions (Upanisạds), Jainism, and Bud…

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Gilhus, Ingvild Sœlid and Zenkert, Georg, “Optimism and Pessimism”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 23 October 2020 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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