Philosophy In Voltaire's Candide

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Voltaire was a philosopher during the Age of Enlightenment and wrote a French satire Candide in 1759. Voltaire was born in Paris and throughout his life, he wrote many satire stories that displeased his father. He was exiled from France for insulting the French government with his satire stories. Voltaire was inspired by the philosophy of John Locke and the scientific theories of Isaac Newton. He was also influenced by the French satirist Rabelais and Diderot. During the Age of Enlightenment, Voltaire had to experience the revolution of ideas between religions and governmental authorities of Europe. On November 1st, 1755, there was an earthquake in Lisbon, that devastated thousands of lives. Many people reacted to the earthquake with optimism …show more content…
In response to the earthquake, Voltaire wrote a satire story called Candide which was set in Westphalia. In the story, a young man named Candide was devoted to philosophy. Throughout his journey he experiences many tragedies such as the earthquake in Lisbon that makes him question the philosophy phrase "best of all possible worlds" (Voltaire, IX). In his book, Voltaire concludes that optimism is not enough to cope with tragedies, however, it is a way of gaining more intellectual insights to become a reasonable individual.
Optimism is a doctrine which states that this world is the best of all possible world. The idea of optimism was introduced by German philosopher G.W. von Leibniz, Alexander Pope, and Jean Jacquez Rousseau. During the Age of Enlightenment, people started to think more optimistically about life. "Expression of his deep empathy with this new spirit of Enlightenment, and a desire to wipe out all the hidebound superstitions that stood in the way"
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In the beginning Candide started off with an optimistic view that "This is the best of all possible worlds" (). As time passed by, Candide begins to question that philosophy, "If this is the best of possible worlds, what then are the others?" (Voltaire, 22) When the people were burned alive and Pangloss was hanged to death, even after all this another earthquake took place where it was hard for Candide to keep an optimistic view of the occurrences. Pangloss was the greatest philosopher of the whole province, and of the whole world. Pangloss proved that "there is no effect without a cause, and that, in this best of all possible world" (Voltaire, 4). Pangloss was very optimistic even after the earthquake and he did not believe that the incident was a punishment. Pangloss and Candide had a similar view on optimism however, Pangloss was hanged for expressing his opinion about the earthquake. Candide quickly learns that not all things happen for the best. When Candide was given two choices either to run the gauntlet thirty-six times or to be executed, Candide choose neither one of those, and claims that human will is free. At the end he had no choice, he ran the gauntlet thirty-six times. Candide thought it is God's choice. Candide led this whole journey to get the girl he liked. He finally got her, but he was not anymore

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