Candide - Optimism

Topics: Candide, Best of all possible worlds, Voltaire Pages: 3 (1074 words) Published: June 28, 2008
In Candide, Voltaire sought to point out the flaws of Gottfried William von Leibniz's theory of optimism and the hardships brought on by the inaction toward the evils of the world. Voltaire's use of satire, and its techniques of exaggeration and contrast highlight the evil and brutality of war and the world in general when men are meekly accepting their fate. Leibniz, a German philosopher and mathematician of Voltaire's time, developed the idea that the world they were living in at that time was "the best of all possible worlds." This systematic optimism shown by Leibniz is the philosophical system that believed everything already was for the best, no matter how terrible it seemed. In this satire, Voltaire showed the world was full of natural disasters and brutality. Voltaire also used contrast in the personalities of the characters to convey the message that Leibniz's philosophy should not be dealt with any seriousness.

Leibniz theorized that G-d, having the ability to pick from an infinite number of worlds, chose this world, "the best of all possible worlds. (http://www-personal.umich.edu/leibniz.htm)" Although Voltaire chose that simple quality of Leibniz's philosophy to satirize, Leibniz meant a little more than just that. Even though his philosophy stated that G-d chose "the best of all possible worlds," he also meant that G-d, being the perfection he is, chose the best world available to him; unfortunately it was a world containing evil (http://friesian.com/leibniz.htm). It seems that Voltaire wanted to ridicule Leibniz's philosophy so much that he chose to satirize only the literal meaning and fatal acceptance of evil of Leibniz's philosophy (http://www.ericjonas.com/features/candide/optimism/default.asp).

To get his point across in Candide, Voltaire created the character Dr. Pangloss, an unconditional follower of Leibniz's philosophy. Voltaire shows this early in the novella by stating, "He proved admirably that there is no effect...
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