Optimism as a Theme for Candide
Just as on the title, Candide, or Optimism, Optimism is also used as a major theme. Voltaire's satire of philosophical optimism is one of the major issues of Candide. Throughout the story, satirical references to "the best of all possible worlds" contrast with natural catastrophes and human wrongdoing. According to Wikipedia, "optimism, the opposite of pessimism, is a lifeview where the world is looked upon the as a positive place. Optimists generally believe that people are inherently good. These people are said to have a "positive" outlook on life, believing that given time, things will work out in the end." Also according to Wikipedia, "In philosophy, optimism is linked with the name of Gottfried Leibniz, who held that we live in the "best of all possible worlds," a theodicy for which he was famously mocked by Voltaire in his satirical novel Candide. Its opposite is philosophical pessimism. Perhaps even more optimistic than Leibniz, was the anarchist philosopher William Godwin. He hoped that society would eventually reach the state where all violence and force would be replaced by calm reason, that matter could eventually be made subservient to mind and that the secret of immortality could be discovered. Some are surprised to learn that a freedom-loving anarchist like William Godwin disapproved of suicide, but this was due to his optimistic belief that suicide was almost always a mistake."
According to GradeSacer, "Pangloss's first lesson to Candide is that "there cannot possibly be an effect without a cause" and that "everything is made to serve an end." This encapsulates the doctrine of optimistic determinism. If an omniscient, omnipotent God made the world according to his design, then the presence of evil would imply a malice toward his own creatures. Believers in the Christian faith responded to this theological problem by applying a rational understanding to the phenomenon of evil, using an analysis of cause and...
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Voltaire. Candide. The Norton Anthology: World Masterpieces. Ed. Maynard Mack. Expanded Edition in One Volume. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 1997. 2037-2101.
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