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I am looking for one word that is explained as "the belief in the good nature of humankind". It is not philanthropy or humanitarianism; rather, I am looking for one word to describe one's belief in philanthropists.

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The perpetual-optimist fictional character that immediately comes to mind is Pollyanna, but I'm not sure how to turn her name into a belief system -- Pollyannaism? –  JPmiaou May 25 '11 at 4:37
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<tongue-in-cheek>Does 'gullible' suffice?</tongue-in-cheek> –  Andrew Thompson May 25 '11 at 5:36
    
I was thinking 'gullible' or 'deluded'. :) –  thursdaysgeek May 25 '11 at 21:52
    
Or naïve perhaps? ;-) –  Zano Jul 1 '11 at 16:02
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4 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I suggest "humanism." Various dictionaries define it in roughly-similar ways, but Merriam-Webster has this:

a system of values and beliefs that is based on the idea that people are basically good and that problems can be solved using reason instead of religion

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Thanks, I think this is the closest match to what I want. Reading wuthering heights, the book talks about this. –  peia May 25 '11 at 12:20
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"Optimist" is the first that comes to mind, but is not specific about humankind.

How about "Rousseauian"?

Also, my personal favorite, "naiveté"

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You might say someone like that is Panglossian:

Pan·gloss·i·an (pn-gls-n, -glôs-, png-) adj. Blindly or naively optimistic.

The term comes from a character in Voltaire's Candide, which "begins with a young man, Candide, who is living a sheltered life in an Edenic paradise and being indoctrinated with Leibnizian optimism (or simply Optimism) by his mentor, Pangloss."

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+1 for Pangloss. That's the one I was actually looking for. –  Alain Pannetier Φ May 25 '11 at 8:59
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I'll propose benevolence.

The primary definition of the OED for this word is:

benevolence: Disposition to do good, desire to promote the happiness of others, kindness, generosity, charitable feeling (as a general state or disposition towards mankind at large).

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