A Rational Demonstration Of Irrational Thought

603 words - 2 pages

Voltaire's work Candide is an absurd, irrational story that takes the reader to almost every part of the world in a critical analysis of enlightenment thought. Readers may view Candide as a work that encompasses enlightenment thought. On the contrary however, Candide is indeed a correction and criticism of popular enlightenment ideals. Mainly, Voltaire focuses on the irrationality of the "best of all worlds" philosophy and in the end, concludes that there will never be a utopia on earth. Through an analysis of Pangloss and Eldorado, this will be demonstrated.

Initially, the reader is introduced to Pangloss as the intellectual head of the household who maintains the philosophy that humankind lives in the "best of all possible worlds."1* In the story, Pangloss experiences the tragedy and sorrow that permeates society as he falls from favor, acquires a sexual transmitted disease, and is hanged. Throughout the story, Pangloss maintains this philosophy despite the overwhelming amount of experience that portrays the contrary. The absolute absurdity of this philosophy is exemplified perfectly by the reasoning of Pangloss when a volcano erupts in Lisbon. When the volcano erupts and the entire city is collapsing and burning Pangloss argues that, "[the volcano] is a manifestation of the rightness of things... because if there is a volcano in Lisbon it could not be anywhere else... because everything is for the best."2 The optimistic attitude portrayed by Pangloss in Candide mirrors the philosophies of many enlightenment thinkers such as Leibniz. The focus of Voltaire in Candide was to critique and refute this popular enlightenment philosophy. Through the various anecdotes, Voltaire shows that although Candide and Pangloss are good people, horrific and terrible things happen to them. Therefore, the reader observes that Pangloss's philosophy...

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