Put in print in 1759, Candide has been considered as one of the most Voltaire’s masterpiece. In Candide, Voltaire sharply criticized the corruptible power of the nobility, futile speculations of philosophy, religious hypocrisy, cruelty and the folly of optimism. Even though Candide in many instances have been considered as representative manuscript of enlightenment, the book satirizes many philosophies of the enlightenment and makes it obvious that enlightenment was far distance from huge movement it purports to be.
The book is a reflection of the Voltaire’s enduring dislike of the powerful religious regimes and the superciliousness of the French nobility. In contrast, Candide leveled Voltaire’s criticism against the enlightenment philosophical movement. Candid attacked the optimistic school of thought assertion that rational thinking was capable of ending the tribulations committed by humans. Voltaire examined in depth the folly of optimism and his attack can be seen in Pangloss optimistic philosophy.
“Pangloss granted teaching in the metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology. He splendidly attested that there cannot perhaps be a consequence with no cause and that in this probably best world the castle that belonged to the baron was the most stunning amongst every castle and of all baronesses, his wife was ideally the best. Pangloss alleged that, ‘Most things might not appear beyond what they currently look like given that all things became into being to manifestly serve the preeminent end’. In fact, we have spectacles owing to the fact that noses were created to support the spectacles’ (Voltaire, 8).
Pangloss philosophy as quoted is one of the most important targets of Voltaire’s sardonic poke. Pangloss and his student Candide believed that individuals subsist ‘in the best of every probable world’ (Voltaire, 8). However, the appalling life they were going through was in total contrast to the belief. In fact, their belief was similar to the beliefs of most famous philosophers during Voltaire’s epoch.
Basically, Leibniz affirmed that given that the caring Lord made the universe out of imagination, the universe ought to be best possible. The human perception under such systems is that evils exist because people do not understand the underlying forces which control the world. Thus, they are not aware that evils exist for the larger betterment. In the excerpt, Voltaire (8) did not merely disparage the ensuing philosophical sanguinity but equally the philosophical eccentricity of Enlightenment. Many philosophers of enlightenment such as Leibniz emphasized more on the interactions of causal-effect. The spectacle and breeches argument by Pangloss clearly shows a ridiculous incapacity in distinguishing causal-effect. According to Voltaire (8) assertions, the almighty Lord had no intentions of creating noses to suit spectacles but He planned for the reverse.
Basically, Voltaire had the intentions of clarifying eminent defects witnessed in the philosophy of enlightenment. It is apparent in Candide that uphill struggles serve as the supreme therapy for any kind of boredom. Nevertheless, just as Pangloss pointed out in the novel, the cure brings to mind the days of mankind in the Eden’s Garden (Voltaire, 83), where man was the controller of everything. It similarly emerged that the characters providence were ideally controlled in their respective petite plots, and this has not been amicably realized until this moment (Voltaire, 86). Indeed, their lives in the mercy of circumstances have now been literally replaced.
They are now reaping what they had sowed. Surprisingly, the fictional argument in opposition to optimism can be given a happy ending and the reader might thus be left wondering whether Pangloss was right in claiming to be living ‘in the probably best worlds’. The allegations and the arguments against it are however confined by the way of life the characters have found out. In the concluding phrase, Candide asserted that there was no ample room in gardening which would permit rational speculation and this implied that human beings are bound to be fruitful and glad as a consequence.
Voltaire. Candide. Retrieved from: http://www.archive.org/details/candide_librivox