Voltaire Ideas

What were the main ideas of Voltaire on religion, government, and so on? What were the major ideas he criticized or believed?

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saintfester | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Voltaire did not believe in any single religion, and did not believe that one was needed to believe in God. Instead, he was very much interested in the natural laws that were underlying in all religions. Voltaire, like most Enlightenment thinkers, considered himself a deist.

Voltaire supported tolerance towards religions and ethnicities, both. He was opposed to slavery and wrote about it in some of his book, discussing “the price we pay for sugar in Europe.” He was however cited on several occasions for being anti-Semitic.

Voltaire distrusted democracy as too unpredictable and believed that only an enlightened monarch could bring about change. He hoped that such a person would improve both the health and education of his subject.

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morrowl16 | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

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Voltaire (1694-1778) was a French philosopher, poet, historian, and playwright. He opposed authority and tradition, specifically the authority and tradition of the French government and the Catholic Church.

He was a large supporter of civil rights, especially freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Many of his famous works openly criticised the French government and the Catholic Church, which resulted in his exile to England in 1726 and again in 1734.

Voltaire largely distrusted democracy because he viewed it as an "idiocy of the masses." He also believed that an enlightened monarch needed to keep in mind the best interests (power and wealth) of his subjects in order to make meaningful governmental changes.

In terms of religion, Voltaire believed the bible was outdated and metaphorical, rather than a divine gift from God. He was a deist, which is a person who believes in the existence of God, but who does not believe that God intervenes in human life or the universe. He was very unpopular with the Catholic Church because of these beliefs.

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melonsmasher | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Voltaire played an important role in the French Revolution. He tried prevent the corruption among the government officials.

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