The philosophy of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, which Voltaire called "optimism," is one of the main themes of Candide. The two main points of Leibnizian philosophy are that God is beneficent, and that in creating the world, He created the best possible one. Leibniz did not argue that the world was perfect or that evil was non-existent, but thanks to God's goodness and His constant concern with his creation, right finally emerges. It is all a matter of being able to see the Divine plan in its totality and not to judge by solitary parts. This theory was attractive to many because it answered a profound philosophical question that mankind had be struggling with since the beginning of faith: if God is all-powerful and benevolent, then why is there so much evil in the world? Optimism provides an easy way out of this.
Voltaire's experiences led him to dismiss the idea that this is the best of all possible worlds. Examining the death and destruction, both man-made and natural (such as the Libson earthquake), Voltaire concluded that everything was not, in fact, for the best. As a Deist, Voltaire's God was one who initially created the world, and then left it to its own devices.
Voltaire does most of his satirizing through the character of Dr. Pangloss, an unconditional follower of Leibniz's philosophy and Candide's mentor. Pangloss' ramblings are not personal attacks on Leibniz, but in some way represent the thoughts of a typical optimist. He is a very hopeful character in the story because he refuses to accept bad. When Candide encounters Pangloss after a long period of time, Pangloss explains how he was almost hanged, then dissected,... [continues]
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