Essay PreviewMore ↓
"Philosophy consists very largely of one philosopher arguing that all others are jackasses. He usually proves it, and I should add that he also usually proves that he is one himself." US editor H.L. Mencken summed up the majority of Voltaire's Candide in this humorous statement. He stated Voltaire's ideas toward modern philosophy, specifically the Optimism of the philosopher Leibniz. Candide presents the idea that philosophy is useless without application and yet leaves the idea wide open to interpretation. Both sides of the theory are present; the reader must decide which to believe.
On the one hand, the reader is presented with the idea that philosophy is good for philosophy's sake. The character Pangloss is an absolute optimist, constantly saying that "all is well" (2). The optimism of Pangloss carries him through the hardest of circumstances - syphilis (9), a hanging (15), and a botched autopsy that brought him back to life (92). Yet in his satirical fashion, Voltaire carries Pangloss' philosophy to the point of idiocy. When any normal person would have renounced their philosophy, Pangloss still insists on it. So what conclusion may the reader draw from this portrayal? Clearly, Pangloss failed to apply his philosophy, yet he was still living. He was still able to count his blessings. Philosophy for philosophy's sake seemed to be a "wind beneath the wings" for Pangloss - keeping him somewhat sane in the darkest of situations. Voltaire's presentation of this idea is in complete contrast to the idea behind the Enlightenment, in which reason was the greatest ideal. Philosophy springs from reasoning and so Voltaire displayed how philosophy can be used simply for the sake of reasoning. In fact, the text even says that Pangloss, ."..having once maintained that everything was going marvelously, he still maintained it, and believed nothing of the sort" (96). He still maintains the philosophy, giving him hope, yet doesn't fully believe it. In other words, he has the head knowledge, but hasn't taken it fully to heart knowledge yet.
The application of philosophical reasoning, however, seems to be Voltaire's main point. Philosophy is no good without application, which contrasts the ideal of the character Pangloss. Pangloss' antithesis is a man named Martin, who is an essential pessimist and represents the opposite side of Voltaire's argument.
How to Cite this Page
"The Asylum of Optimists in Candide." 123HelpMe.com. 31 Mar 2020
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- In the “Candide or Optimist” by Francois-Marie Arouet De Voltaire people are not as they would seem and things are not as they seem to be. Sometimes people have to put up as a mask to hide their true reality. Sometimes we tend to fall for what is on the surface of the people in our lives. Just as Candide looks to Jacques, Paquette, and Cunégonde and they are not who he intended them to be. There is always something more than what it may seem. There is irony in the novel Candide because everything he once believed in was betraying him right in front of his eyes.... [tags: Candide, Voltaire, Syphilis, El Dorado]
2562 words (7.3 pages)
- 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)
- Many people are asked the question if they are optimist and they will usually respond yes, no, or something else ,but what actually is an optimist, and is a good thing. Today optimist is defined as someone who always sees the bright side of any situation — a trait that can be either encouraging or annoying, depending on your frame of mind. In the enlightenment an optimist was defined as someone who believed that everything happened for the greater good, because of God. Many great writers of the enlightenment period,such as Voltaire, created literary works to criticize the overly optimistic society in which they lived in.... [tags: Voltaire, Candide, Optimism, Age of Enlightenment]
850 words (2.4 pages)
- In this piece, I will argue that the social factors and attitudes surrounding the distinction of asylum seekers and official refugees, are constructed and exploited by the Australian Government, to improve their political and economic position over the nation. The Government uses nationalism and assimilation to maintain their power to shape the culture and normality of Australian society. They achieve this by influencing society through the media, to fear 'illegal ' asylum seekers, but accept those that fit the 1951 refugee convention criteria.... [tags: Refugee, Australia, Right of asylum]
1194 words (3.4 pages)
- Voltaire. Candide. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Classics, 1947. Print. François-Marie Arouet, or Voltaire was an Enlightenment thinker, whose ideas are portrayed in his satiric novel, Candide. In this short novel, Voltaire critiques French society of the time, and attacks Leibnizian optimism through his sarcastic representation of Professor Pangloss, one of the optimist philosophers. Throughout the book, he describes the reality of society, which is that of misery and pain. This novel was written in 1759 during the Age of Enlightenment, when Voltaire was already a known writer who was famous for his satirical wit.... [tags: Voltaire, Age of Enlightenment, Candide, Optimism]
2064 words (5.9 pages)
- Voltaire's Attack on Optimism in Candide Leibnitz emphasized, in his Discours de Metaphysique (Discourse on Metaphysics) (1686) the role of a benevolent creator. He called the constituent components of the universe monads, and while the philosophy of monads is of little concern to readers of Candide, the conclusion which Leibnitz drew from these monads is crucial to an understanding of optimism. Leibnitz argued that all of these monads were linked in a complex chain of cause and effect and that this linking had been done by a divine creator as he created the harmonious universe.... [tags: Candide essays]
1281 words (3.7 pages)
- Use of Satire in Voltaire’s Candide Voltaire successfully uses satire as a means of conveying his opinions about life. In his novel, Candide, Voltaire satirizes the philosopher Liebnitz's philosophy that this is the best of all possible worlds. In the novel, the perpetually optimistic and naive character, Candide, travels around the world, having various experiences that prove, at least to the reader, that evil does exist. In one particular passage, Voltaire uses explicit diction, exaggerated details and manipulated syntax in order to contrast the optimist's romantic view of battle with the horrible reality that is war.... [tags: Candide essays]
627 words (1.8 pages)
- Voltaire's Candide as Vehicle to Discredit Optimism Optimism was an attractive to many because it answered a profound philosophical question: if God is omnipotent and benevolent, then why is there so much evil in the world. Optimism provides an easy way out: God has made everything for the best, and even though one might experience personal misfortune, God (via your misfortune) is still helping the greater good. Voltaire's experiences led him to dismiss the idea that this is the best of all possible worlds.... [tags: Candide essays]
1005 words (2.9 pages)
- Candide: A Satire On The Enlightenment Works Cited Missing Candide is an outlandishly humorous, far-fetched tale by Voltaire satirizing the optimism espoused by the philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment. It is the story of a young man’s adventures throughout the world, where he witnesses much evil and disaster. 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.... [tags: Voltaire Candide Essays]
596 words (1.7 pages)
- Candide is the illegitimate nephew of a German baron. He grows up in the baron’s castle under the tutelage of the scholar Pangloss, who teaches him that this world is “the best of all possible worlds.” Candide falls in love with the baron’s young daughter, Cunégonde. The baron catches the two kissing and expels Candide from his home. On his own for the first time, Candide is soon conscripted into the army of the Bulgars. He wanders away from camp for a brief walk, and is brutally flogged as a deserter.... [tags: essays research papers]
2034 words (5.8 pages)
Martin is what is technically called a "Manichean" (58). Essentially, a Manichean believes in the opposite of the Leibniz's optimism philosophy, today called pessimism (xiv). Martin actually applies this philosophy in several instances, one of the most prominent being his repetition of the assertion that the world is completely mad. One of the most humorous references to this aspect of the philosophy is when Candide asks Martin, "But for what purpose was this world created then?" Martin's reply is "To drive us mad" (61). Though amusing, Voltaire does assert that Martin has applied his philosophical ramblings into an actual lifestyle. At every instance, Martin has a philosophical take, usually the most dire and dark of everyone present. The most despairing of his attitudes is encapsulated in the statement: "If hawks have always had the same character, why do you expect men to have changed theirs?" (62). His philosophy is applied clearly in his life. In contrast to Pangloss, he has both head knowledge and heart knowledge.
What supposition then are we to draw? Is philosophy that keeps our spirits up even if we don't live it out and look for it better than that which is applied and causes us to despair? That is a conclusion that each individual must reach themselves, but according to Voltaire's satire, the applied philosophy is one that is clearly better, in Voltaire's opinion. Though it does seem dark and despairing, Martin is accepting of everything happening because he is able to apply his philosophy. It is agreeable to him and that seems to be Voltaire's main point - find something agreeable to oneself in every situation and one shall be content. The mind is nothing without the heart.
Voltaire. "Candide." Candide and Other Stories. Trans: Roger Pearson. Oxford: University Press, 1990.