Candide

Philosophical Context of Voltaire's Candide College

Voltaire’s novella Candide is a satirical piece detailing the eventful travels of Candide in order to criticize many aspects of Enlightenment philosophical thought, including theodicy and Leibniz’s philosophical optimism, rationalism, and the complacency indicative of stoic philosophical contemplation. Candide is used to explore many of the novel philosophical ideals that were spreading through Europe during the Enlightenment. As a whole, the piece’s plot is filled with action, and this abundance of action is a medium by which Voltaire examines some of these philosophies. Furthermore, Voltaire couples the events of the plot with characters emblematic of different schools of Enlightenment thought. For example, Pangloss’s character illustrates the ideals of both philosophical optimism and theodicy. Characters such as these are used to analyze the validity of different schools of thought. Through these different mediums Voltaire communicates a fundamental disagreement with many Enlightenment ideals. Specifically, Voltaire uses Pangloss to criticize the idea that this world is the best of all possible worlds, as Leibniz’s philosophical optimism holds (Look). Furthermore, Pangloss is used to criticize the idea of cause and effect....

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