1755 Lisbon Earthquake

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The 1755 Lisbon earthquake had far reaching implications. Not only was it physically devastating, it also changes the landscape of the influential philosophers of the day. It led to the development and solidification of the ideas. No matter how devastating it was physically it had varying affects on the philosophy of the day. It had a wide variety of effects on philosophy, religion, and science. It pushed some, like Voltaire, to become more pessimistic, while others, like Rousseau, to become more optimistic. Even further it pushed some, like Kant, to use reason and science to explain it, while others, like Wesley, looked to the church and religion. Voltaire and Rousseau are polarized on their views of the quake. Voltaire couldn’t see any value in the quake. His reasons for it not having any value are “because it produces pain” (506) and “because it finds no rational justification from the point of view of the victims themselves” (506) It leads to him writing Candied, which summarizes his ideas. Life is hard, unfair, and all around a bad thing, but you have hope. Hope comes in the form of labor which helps relieve the struggle of life. The quake has the opposite effect on Rousseau. It causes him to become more optimistic. He often writes to Voltaire basically making fun of his pessimistic views. It also caused Rousseau to believe in the importance of the individual human personality. Kant becomes more focused on his interest in natural science. Wesley changes his view from a god who cannot be approached or seen to a more man-like god.
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