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What is the central message Voltaire is conveying in Candide?

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nikitasing | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted January 31, 2013 at 8:31 PM via web

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What is the central message Voltaire is conveying in Candide?

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 31, 2013 at 11:22 PM (Answer #1)

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Candide is a sustained assault on the optimistic philosophy associated with the German philosopher Gottfried von Leibniz. Essentially, Leibniz argued that since God created the world, everything was as good as it could possibly be. For a reform-minded philosophe like Voltaire, this philosophy encouraged stagnation and the uncritical acceptance of existing institutions. In Candide, this philosophy is represented by Pangloss, who repeats the credo that "all is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds." Candide's experiences, which entail a series of absurd misfortunes, contradict this philosophy, and eventually he comes to the conclusion that optimism is  "a mania for insisting that everything is all right when everything is going wrong." So Candide is a critique of philosophical optimism, and really of anyone who claims that a single philosophical system can encompass all of human experience.

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