François-Marie Arouet, better known under his pen name Voltaire, was one of the leading philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment. He is considered the epitome of the eighteenth century, which has been named le siècle de Voltaire. His philosophical novel or conte, Candide, was published in 1759 and remains one of his most well known and widely read of his works—particularly for the English reader.
In one part of his Columbia dissertation “Voltaire and Leibniz,” Richard A. Brooks has read Candide as an autobiographical account of Voltaire’s lifelong indecision and struggle to come to a solution to the problem of evil: “Candide was not merely an intellectual or philosophical exercise; it is a work, in a sense, autobiographical” (99). The problem of evil was one of the primary concerns of Enlightenment thinkers such as Voltaire. Scholars generally agree that Voltaire, throughout most of his works, was in conversation with pre-enlightenment German philosopher, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. Some of them read Voltaire’s works as a denouncement of Leibniz as a charlatan. Others, when looking specifically at Candide, suggest that Voltaire is not refuting Leibniz’ philosophy, per se, but its popular misrepresentations. Others say that, whether Voltaire was aiming at criticizing Leibniz or the popularization of his thought, he failed in his enterprise. However, a close reading of the text of Candide itself, especially chapters three and six, provides specific evidence for reading this text as a direct and virulent attack on Leibniz’ Optimism, whose main argument is best summarized by the phrase “the best of all possible worlds” (Leibniz 229).
Optimism is linked to the problems of evil, of fr...
... middle of paper ...
Kivy, Peter. “Voltaire, Hume and the Problem of Evil.” Philosophy and Literature. 3.2 (1979): 211-224. Print.
Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm. Theodicy: Essays on the Goodness of God, the Freedom of Man, and the Origin of Evil. La Salle, Ill: Open Court, 1985. Gutenberg.org. The Project Gutenberg, 2005. Web. 7 Feb. 2010.
Mason, Haydn Trevor. Candide: Optimism Demolished. Twayne's masterwork studies, no. 104. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1992.
Riley, Patrick. “The Tolerant Skepticism of Voltaire and Diderot: Against Leibnizian Optimism and Wise Charity.” Early Modern Skepticism and the Origins of Toleration. Ed. Alan Levine. Lanham: Lexington Books, 1999. 249-270. Print.
Wilson, Catherine. “The reception of Leibniz in the eighteen century.” The Cambridge Companion to Leibniz. Ed. Nicholas Jolley. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995. 442-474. Print.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Optimism in Candide Voltaire's Candide uses anti-heroism as an object of mockery against the philosophers of the Enlightenment. Candide, the hero of the novel travels around the world where he encounters many difficulties. During his travels, he sticks to the teaching of his tutor, Doctor Pangloss, believing that "everything is for the best" (3). Voltaire points out the illogicality of this doctrine, "if Columbus had not caught, on an American island, this sickness which attacks the source of generation [...] we should have neither chocolate or cochineal" (8).... [tags: Candide essays]
802 words (2.3 pages)
- Voltaire “Candide or Optimism” was written in the enlightenment era. Voltaire story is published in The Norton Anthology of Western Literature. Voltaire’s character, Pangolss, is a philosopher who teaches about God morals. Pangolss is also a mentor to Candide, who is the main character of the novel. Candide has a good heart but is also feel s very hopeless in life. Pangloss takes Candide under his wing and teaches him that “best of all possible worlds.” The enlightenment movement is seen closely in Voltaire writing style on page 378.... [tags: voltaire, enlightment era, candide]
1336 words (3.8 pages)
- Many ideals of the Enlightenment can be seen in Voltaire’s Candide. The Enlightenment was a philosophical movement of the eighteenth century, which was characterized by reason and by changes in education, religious, and political views. Voltaire depicted these ideas and his personal thoughts on the Enlightenment within his novel Candide. One of the main ideas in this story is Voltaire’s view of hope and optimism versus the reality Candide encounters during his adventures throughout the story. Voltaire has an unconventional way of exaggerating contrast of Candide’s optimism and misfortune that makes the reading intriguing.... [tags: Candide, Voltaire, El Dorado, Age of Enlightenment]
1072 words (3.1 pages)
- ... In fact, through Candide’s blind acceptance of Pangloss’s optimism, Voltaire shows how young and naive Candide is. Candide describes Pangloss as “the best philosopher in Germany” (90), but Voltaire suggests Pangloss’s foolishness to reader throughout the novel. This establishes Candide as an immature protagonist, easily swayed by Pangloss’s false teachings and unable to think for himself. When Candide met Cacambo, however, he was exposed to a way of thinking other than the teachings of Pangloss.... [tags: Candide, Voltaire, Bildungsroman, Zadig]
1258 words (3.6 pages)
- Use of Satire to Target Religion, Military, and Optimism in Voltaire's Candide In his work, Candide, Voltaire uses satire as a means of conveying his opinions about many aspects of European society in the eighteenth century. Voltaire successfully criticizes religion, the military, and the philosophy of optimism. Religious leaders are the targets of satire throughout Candide. Voltaire portrays the religious clergy as men who use their positions to further their own causes. In addition, the priests keep the less fortunate oppressed, so the clergy members can continue to enjoy extravagant luxuries.... [tags: Candide Voltaire essays]
603 words (1.7 pages)
- Successful Use of Satire in Voltaire's Candide Voltaire's Candide is the story of how one man's adventures affect his philosophy on life. 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... [tags: Candide essays Voltaire ]
1563 words (4.5 pages)
- How Reading Candide Can Change Your Life Reading Candide can show you the optimism in the world. Candide shows many people the good of being optimistic. The whole story is centered around optimism, hence the name, “Candide, or Optimism.” This is an important factor in life in general and it 's a trait that 's important to have. Without optimism, there would be nothing. We would all be miserable. Everyone has a bit of optimism in them. If we didn 't, life would be a whole lot harder. Realizing you need optimism to live your life to the fullest by reading Candide, Candide can change your life.... [tags: Candide, Voltaire, Syphilis, Optimism]
1147 words (3.3 pages)
- Voltaire's Candide Voltaire uses many writing techniques, which are similar to that of the works of Cervantes, Alighieri, Rabelais and Moliere. The use of the various styles shows that, despite the passing of centuries and the language change, certain writing techniques will always be effective. One common literary technique is the author's use of one or more of his characters as his own voice to speak out the authors own views on certain subjects. For instance, in Moliere's Tartuffe, the author uses the character of Cleante to speak out against religious hypocrites: "Nothing that I more cherish and admire than honest zeal and true religious fire.... [tags: Voltaire Candide ]
1186 words (3.4 pages)
- Voltaire’s Opposition to Optimism in Candide Philosophy is a means by which humans search for a general understanding of the world and its concepts. Through experience, thought, and observation, one can arrive at a conclusion that forms the basis of his ideas. However, if one simply thinks and does not act, this conclusion does not make any significant difference on his life. This is a major point that Voltaire tries to make in Candide. He is trying to change society by demonstrating the absurdity of optimism.... [tags: Candide essays pessimism pessimist philosophy]
1084 words (3.1 pages)
- Voltaire's Candide Candide is a reflection of the philosophical values of the Enlightenment. Voltaire’s novel is a satire of the Old Regime ideologies in which he critiques the political, social, and religious ideals of his time. A common intellectual characteristic of the Enlightenment was anti-feudalism. Philosophers were against the separations in the Old Regime and pushed for equality among human beings. Voltaire parodies the pompousness of the nobility several times throughout his novel.... [tags: Enlightenment Voltaire Essays]
982 words (2.8 pages)