Wednesday, June 8, 2016


Philosophy is well outside my circle of competence, and yet I still enjoyed the English translation of Volatire's Candide. It's a satirical novel that ridicules what appears to be the prevalent thought of Voltaire's time: that whatever happens, no matter how horrible, it is for the best.

A few hundred years has clearly not been enough time to rid the world of this point of view, because I still encounter it. Maybe that's because everything actually *is* for the best though...I don't know.

The book was banned when it came out, as certain religious extremists took offense. But Voltaire was ahead of his time in not just ridiculing religion but also kings, governments, armies and nearly everything else. And he managed to do all this in just 100 pages, making him my kind of writer!

I can't say I understood everything, though. Voltaire is clearly taking aim at certain groups with his satire, but perhaps those groups are no longer prevalent today. It was still funny even when I didn't get the jokes though, possibly because the comedic wit and timing were superb, or because of a halo effect the book had on me because I agreed with its views.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To understand this point of view, perhaps one has to consider the possibility that this world is not an end but a means to an end. Perhaps we return in many roles and that each role has a purpose. And that each time we return, we learn something new and that horrible stuff that happens is merely part of the teaching process. If that were truly the way of the universe, Voltaire's point of view would make much more sense. Too bad that's not the case. Or is it?

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