Voltaire’s masterpiece has been read delightfully and with much interest by many people since its scarcely secret publication in Geneva and Paris (1759). When it was first published, there were about twenty copies, most of which were pirated. When Voltaire died (1778) there were already more than fifty, and later on it became the best seller of the eighteenth century.
It is true that the local conditions have changed since Candide was written. English admirals are not shot any more as a lesson in military perseverance. Jesuits are no longer meal to any tribe in South America, and people do not get cut into pieces when they try to escape from slavery, or at least not as much. But within our own circumstances and in the world we are living on, war, rape, racism, greed, superstition, persecution, intolerance, and so on are part of everyday life coexisting with us in our society. Maybe the only difference that there is between nowadays and back then when Voltaire was living (before the French Revolution), is that now all those atrocities are camouflaged better, so that society it self do not get to realize sometimes what exactly is going on. To explain the difference between today’s society and the one that was back in Voltaire’s times, I have made an analogy: A pile of excrement that smelled really bad, was back then society. Today’s society would be the same pile of excrement, but with the difference that it does not smell bad because is covered up with a lot of perfume. Nowadays it does not smell bad and it is easier for us to live without the stink and the pestilent odor (we do not face reality). But the important thing is that it is the very same pile of excrement, or even bigger, but for us it would ve...
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...d for the best possible. So if there is a God, which he thought there was, that superior being had to make it perfect and therefore better than any other "world." The created world is the best of all possible worlds.
The way that Leibniz had to support his argument so it would make sense was by the principle of sufficient reason and consequently the choice of the best world has to be a consequence of God's nature. Leibniz made very clear that they flow from God's intellect, and not from God's will. Descartes had held before him that God's will is absolutely free, (it could be willed that 2 = 1 + 3) but Leibniz disagreed.
The best possible world is one in which justice is served: the wicked are punished and the virtuous rewarded. Good and bad are something we do not have the power to judge, because our knowledge and view is too small for us to see the general.
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