The reader must not, however, conclude at once that the following pages are so many red-hot charges into the tottering ranks of mediæval dogmas. My aim has been to illustrate the versatility of Voltaire’s genius, and to exhibit his own sincere creed no less than his most penetrating scourges of what most educated men in his time and ours regard as utterly antiquated delusions. There are pages here that might receive a place of honour in the most orthodox religious journals of England; other pages in which the irony is so subtle and the temper so polite that, without the terrible name, they would puzzle many a clergyman. In the however, and in parts of one or two other essays, I have given specimens of the Voltaire who was likened to Antichrist.
This collection of essays by Voltaire contains a long essay on the Jean Calas case, several shorter essays on religious topics, and his famous poem on the Lisbon earthquake.
Voltaire’s eagerness to show the tolerance of the Jews is purely paradoxical and ironical. His sole object in this section is to expose the crudities of the Old Testament, under the cloak of orthodox theological reasoning. Hence he omits the savage laws of against foreign cults.—J. M.
Blandt andre Voltaires fortælling om Candide, Marivaux’ og Beaumarchais’ komedier, Montesquieus og Laclos’ brevromaner (henholdsvis Lettres persanes og Liaisons dangereuses) og Diderots essays om de blinde og de døvstumme.Lys forude?
Immediately preceding this poem I have given a translation of Voltaire’s philosophical essay, This was written by him in 1772, six years before his death, and is the most succinct expression of his mature religious views. It is really directed against his atheistic friends at Paris, such as d’Holbach. Condorcet said of it that it contained the most powerful argumentation for the existence of God that had yet been advanced. Its remarkable lucidity and terseness enable us to identify his views at once. He did not believe in the spirituality or immortality of the soul, but he had an unshakable conviction of the existence of God. It is sometimes said that the Lisbon earthquake shook his theism. This is inaccurate, as a careful comparison of the two works will show. He never believed that the supreme intelligence was infinite in power, and the haunting problem of evil always made him hesitate to ascribe more than limited moral attributes to his deity. His one unwavering dogma—it does not waver for an instant in the poem—is that the world was designed by a supreme intelligence and is moved by a supreme power. Had he lived one hundred years later, when evolution began to throw its magical illumination upon the order of the universe and the wonderful adaptation of its parts, his position would clearly have been modified. As it was, he, with constant sincerity, avowed that he could not understand the world without a great architect and a prime mover of all moving things. In all his works the uglier features of the world, which, unlike many theists, he steadfastly confronted, forbid him to add any other and warmer attributes to this bleak intelligence and mysterious power.
Famous as a playwright and essayist, Voltaire’s Candide is the book where he tries to point out the fallacy of Gottfried William von Leibniz's theory of Optimism.
Candide begins his journey full of optimism that he lives in "the best of all possible worlds," but he learns that it is naïve to say that good will eventually come of any evil. Voltaire successfully uses satire as a means of conveying his opinions about many aspects of European society in the eighteenth century. He criticizes religion, the evils found in every level of society, and a philosophy of optimism when faced with an intolerable world. Candide portrays religious persecution as one of the most worst aspects of society. Voltaire rejects...
Hall herself claimed later that she had been paraphrasing Voltaire's words in his Essay on Tolerance: "Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too." --
Pp xvi, 363.) In this essay, published in 1738, Voltaire explains the philosophies of not only Newton, but in a large part Descartes because of his contributions in the fields of geometry.
The selection opens with the which has a mainly historical interest, and illustrates the finest side of Voltaire’s work and character. It shows him as a profound humanitarian, putting aside, in his seventieth year, his laughter and his comfort to take up the cause of an obscure sufferer, and shaking France, as Zola did in our time, with his denunciation of a judicial crime. The story of the crime is told in the essay itself; but it is not told, or in any way conveyed, that, but for the action of the aged rationalist, not a single effort would have been made to secure redress. His splendid action on that and a few similar occasions has been held by critical students of his career to atone for all his errors. Many Protestants who scoff at “Voltaire the scoffer” may learn with surprise that his noble and impassioned struggle earned for them the right to live in Southern France. The treatise was published in 1763. I have omitted a number of lengthy and learned notes and one or two chapters which are incidental to the argument and of little interest to-day.