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SparkNotes: Candide: Study Questions & Essay Topics
In equal respects, both are embodiments of different philosophies of the time: Pangloss the proponent of Optimism and Martin the proponent of Pessimism....
Candide is an archetype of these idiocracies, for he lacks reason and has optimism that is truly irking, believing that this is the best of all possible worlds.
Arthur Schopenhauer - Friesian School
This same hedonistic ethics was also crucial to the development ofliberal political economy during the Enlightenment, and Voltaireapplied his own libertinism toward this project as well. In the wakeof the scandals triggered by Mandeville's famous argument in TheFable of the Bees (a poem, it should be remembered) that thepursuit of private vice, namely greed, leads to public benefits,namely economic prosperity, a French debate about the value of luxuryas a moral good erupted that drew Voltaire's pen. In the 1730s, hedrafted a poem called Le Mondain that celebrated hedonisticworldly living as a positive force for society, and not as thecorrupting element that traditional Christian morality held it tobe. In his Essay sur les moeurs he also joined with otherEnlightenment historians in celebrating the role of materialacquisition and commerce in advancing the progress ofcivilization. Adam Smith would famously make similar arguments in hisfounding tract of Enlightenment liberalism, On the Wealth ofNations, published in 1776. Voltaire was certainly no greatcontributor to the political economic science that Smith practiced,but he did contribute to the wider philosophical campaigns that madethe concepts of liberty and hedonistic morality central to their workboth widely known and more generally accepted.
Later, speakingto an old man in the legendary country of Eldorado Candide asks Do you mean to say you have no monks teaching and disputing, governing and intriguing, and having people burned if they dont subscribe to their opinions?" To which the old man replies We should be stupid if we had we are all of the same opinion here, and we dont know what you mean by monks."When Candide passes through Franceon his journeys Voltaire takes full advantage to poke fun at his own nation.
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Voltaire did bring out one explicitly philosophical book in supportthis campaign, his Dictionnaire philosophique of1764–1770. This book republished his articles from the originalEncyclopédie while adding new entries conceived in thespirit of the original work. Yet to fully understand the brand ofphilosophie that Voltaire made foundational to theEnlightenment, one needs to recognize that it just as often circulatedin fictional stories, satires, poems, pamphlets, and other lessobviously philosophical genres. Voltaire's most widely known text, forinstance, Candide, ou l'Optimisme, first published in 1759,is a fictional story of a wandering traveler engaged in a set offarcical adventures. Yet contained in the text is a serious attack onLeibnizian philosophy, one that in many ways marks the culmination ofVoltaire's decades long attack on this philosophy started during theNewton wars. Philosophie à la Voltaire also came inthe form of political activism, such as his public defense of JeanCalas who, Voltaire argued, was a victim of a despotic state and anirrational and brutal judicial system. Voltaire often attachedphilosophical reflection to this political advocacy, such as when hefacilitated a French translation of Cesare Beccaria's treatise onhumanitarian justice and penal reform and then prefaced the work withhis own essay on justice and religious toleration (Calas was a Frenchprotestant persecuted by a Catholic monarchy). Public philosophiccampaigns such as these that channeled critical reason in a direct,oppositionalist way against the perceived injustices and absurdities of OldRegime life were the hallmark of philosophie as Voltaireunderstood the term.
Famous as a playwright and essayist, Voltaire’s Candide is the book where he tries to point out the fallacy of Gottfried William von Leibniz's theory of Optimism.
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Emile, or On Education - Wikipedia
Throughout his travels, he adheres to the teachings of his tutor, Pangloss, believing that "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds." Candide is Voltaire’s answer to what he saw as an absurd belief proposed by the Optimists - an easy way to rationalize evil and suffering....
Free Essays on Voltaire and Philosophers of the Enlightenment
Candide begins his journey full of optimism that he lives in "the best of all possible worlds," but he learns that it is naïve to say that good will eventually come of any evil. Voltaire successfully uses satire as a means of conveying his opinions about many aspects of European society in the eighteenth century. He criticizes religion, the evils found in every level of society, and a philosophy of optimism when faced with an intolerable world. Candide portrays religious persecution as one of the most worst aspects of society. Voltaire rejects...
Voltaire and Philosophers of the Enlightenment
Leibniz, a German philosopher and mathematician of Voltaire's time, developed the idea that the world they were living in at that time was "the best of all possible worlds." This systematic optimism shown by Leibniz is the philosophical system that believed everything already was for...
Criticism of religion is a reappearing topic in Candide
Upon delving into Candide by Voltaire I was lured in by its display of ridiculously brutal situations that dramatized the many evils of human experience.
A Humorous Satire About Young Candide Religion Essay
Voltaire's Candide uses satire to vibrantly and sarcastically portray optimism, a philosophical view from the Enlightenment used to bury the horrors of 18th century life: superstition, sexually transmitted diseases, aristocracy, the church, tyrannical rulers, civil and religious wars, and the cruel punishment of the innocent....
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