Voltaire and the Enlightenment Essay
1364 Words6 Pages
Voltaire and the Enlightenment
During the eighteenth century a group of French writers and critics known as the Philosophes favored change and reform. They believed in the power of the human mind, which was an idea that was inspired by the Scientific Revolution. The philosophes had faith in the power of rational criticism to challenge the tradition of the past. They also sought to apply the rules of reason and common sense to nearly all major institutions and social practices. The philosophes proposed a new kind of organized religion, a social religion which encouraged harmony and tolerance while strengthening the bonds of moral obligations within society. One of the major French philosophes during the eighteenth century was Voltaire.…show more content…
Voltaire stressed the need for people to use reason to make decisions about life.
Throughout Voltaire's life, he inspired people to use their reason to make decisions about religion. He believed in social religion which was the belief in God and in a world of future rewards and punishments.3 Social religion was as old as creation and believed by most people. However, it did contradict organized Christianity with its miracles, supernatural doctrines, and its religious duties. Voltaire made many attacks on the Bible and historic churches. He focused on the contradictions in the Bible and the improbabilities of miracles. The greatest of his attacks was on the Old Testament. Voltaire doubted the existence of Moses, said that the Pentateuch was absurd, and believed the Old Testament was just a "collection of fables." On the other hand, he also attacked the New Testament. He called Jesus "a good fellow, a coarse peasant, and a fanatic."4 Many people read Voltaire's writings on religion and so there was much dispute and conflict among the church. His attacks on the Bible made people think and use reason in their lives.
Voltaire believed in God and that an afterlife was the most powerful force of moral constraint within society, but as a philosophe he believed in the modern view of deism.5 Through the socialization of deism, social religion was
The Optimistic Philosophy in "Candide" by Voltaire Essay
912 Words4 Pages
Why do bad things happen to good people? A question often asked by...well, by just about everyone. It is a frequently asked question that philosophers and religious figures have tried to answer for centuries yet no one can pinpoint the answer. Candide is no doubt Voltaire's response to the answer given by some of the philosophers of his time. The philosophy discussed throughout the novel gives meaning to the story itself and contributes to and carries on throughout the entire story.
In the Baron's castle somewhere in Germany the main characters reside for a short time. Pangloss, the philosopher and teacher of the Baron's children, has a radical philosophy on life and passes it to his students. This philosophy doesn't help them…show more content…
Providing a simple explanation for Pangloss' optimistic philosophy that we live in the "best of all possible worlds" this quote appears in the first chapter of the story and sets up one of the main themes throughout the novel. It's basically the logic behind Pangloss' philosophy, though it makes no sense. It seems quite obvious that spectacles were designed to fit the nose and not the other way around. These are the first of many very illogical arguments to support his philosophy. As the novel progresses this philosophy goes under brutal attacks by the misfortunes the characters come across again and again throughout their lives. It also sets up the never-ending debate between those characters with the optimistic view and those with the pessimistic view. Voltaire uses Pangloss' philosophy to demonstrate a point. Because he so strongly opposes this philosophy it's a recurring theme in the novel.
The optimistic view is also the main example of satire from Voltaire in the novel and this is probably the purpose for writing the novel. It could be interpreted as his response to philosophers of the time, G.W. von Leibniz in particular. Leibniz claimed that because God is perfect, all good and all-powerful, He wouldn't create a less than perfect world; therefore, we live in the best of all possible worlds. Leibniz also said that evil is