Sunday 17 October 2021



Pancallism is the belief that everything is beautiful, or at least everything that exists, which is quite a lot of things. 

The idea, occurred to some medieval scholastic philosophers. Their reasoning went roughly like this. 

God exists. 

Existence is one of the features of God. 

All the features of God are beautiful. 

Hence existence is a kind of beauty.

I exist. 

Therefore, I must be beautiful. 

This is the sort of positive thinking that makes Medieval philosophy such fun; I expect it's also an extremely effective argument to put on your internet dating profile. 

I came across the word pancallistic (the adjective) while reading Art and Beauty in the Middle Ages by Umberto Eco. The book's a little dry, but it's beautifully short. 

The etymology, by the way is Greek. Pan means everything, as in a pandemic which is a disease that has spread to all the people. The demic there is the same as democracy, which is government by the people

The callism bit comes from kalos, which meant beautiful and is the same root that you get when looking a pretty things in a kaleidoscope, or admiring somebody who is callipygian.

Since you ask, callipygian means possessing a beautiful bottom, and is also a very useful word to use on your internet dating profile, I expect.

The Inky Fool discussing Medieval aesthetics.

 P.S. Another thing that exists and is beautiful is The Illustrated Etymologicon, which will be released on November the fourth. 


  1. Oh happy day! I read a good bit of The Horologicon a few years back, but now can't find my copy. Somehow my mind wandered to it today after many years, and to its author (you), whereupon I looked you up, and made my way to Inky Fool and lo! You posted something today. Coincidence? Must find my misplaced copy of The Horologicon. (My family were concerned at times by my maniacal laughter while reading it). I still ask my 15 year old son (and have for years) when he comes downstairs in the morning if he has done his buddle, thanks to you. Jim, Santa Rosa, California.

    1. What, how many years have you had a 15 year old son for?

  2. 15. He was born aged 15 years and has mysteriously remained that age. Head-scratcher. Jim, Santa Rosa, CA.