Essay on Voltaire's Candide - Voltaire's Opposition to Optimism

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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. Voltaire attacks optimism by pointing out the evils of the world, criticizing actual people and events of the time, and criticizing Pangloss' philosophy.

In Candide, Voltaire often criticizes war, denial, and
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There are many instances in the story in which a strongly religious person refuses to help another. When a fellow human in need asked a religious person for help, this request was rejected. Throughout the story, Candide makes a great effort to be nice to people. However, this effort is rarely returned. Voltaire is pointing out his difference in opinion with Jesuits and Franciscans, that if charity is of great importance, charity to one another should be an instantaneous reaction, not a matter of selfish needs.

Voltaire incorporates events and people that affected him greatly during his life into Candide. One of these events is the Lisbon earthquake and fire. Voltaire was angered by the fact that one could be looking at the world with an optimistic view at a tragic time like this. He uses Dr. Pangloss to prove the senselessness of optimism. The destructing earthquake and fire "is for the best, since if there is a volcano at Lisbon, it cannot be somewhere else"(11). Dr. Pangloss is willing to sacrifice his own happiness and welfare in order to be able to continue declaring that this is the best of all possible worlds. Voltaire resents the blindness of philosophers. "Philosophy can only be effective when it is followed by action"(Juan Zerolo), so he believes that there is no point of simply thinking about one's situation. The only thing that will make a difference in the world is acting on one's thoughts. Voltaire also was

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