How does Martin define his own philosophical perspective?


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In Chapter 21, Martin pans France as a country where the "ruling passion is love, the next is slander, and the last is to talk nonsense." He describes Paris as "confused multitude, where everyone seeks for pleasure without being able to find it." Their discourse takes a philosophical turn. Candide asks the philosopher for what reason the world was formed. "To make us mad" is the response. Was mankind always so brutal to one another, guilty of "lies, fraud, treachery, ingratitude, inconstancy, envy, ambition, and cruelty"? If animals have not evolved in their nature, why should humans be expected to do so? The difference between animals and men is free will.

Martin quotes Plato as saying that "those are not the best stomachs that reject, without distinction, all sorts of aliments." Voltaire's metaphorical use of the stomach as an organ of taste points to the importance of aesthetic theory in his understanding of the human condition. If one of the key differences between men and animals is free will, then another criterion of distinction might be the appreciation of beauty.