Does Voltaire, in Candide, agree with Dr. Pangloss that this is the best of all possible worlds?

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Voltaire certainly would not believe that "all is for the best in all possible worlds," as Dr. Pangloss keeps insisting in Candide. As one of the eighteenth century's most radical thinkers, Voltaire was also one of its greatest satirists. As such, Dr. Pangloss and his absurd optimism is meant to serve as a parody. By having Pangloss stretch his mind ever further to justify tragedies that cannot in good faith be justified, Voltaire makes sure readers knows it too.

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Voltaire was a satirist and has created Dr. Pangloss in that spirit. The doctor's touchstone phrase is “all is for the best in all possible worlds," but it is clear the good doctor is not to be taken seriously. To convince Voltaire's readers of this fact, Pangloss offers several examples of the preposterous nature of his thinking. For instance, when the earthquake strikes the coast of Portugal, killing thousands of people, he merely says,

"All that is for the best. If there is a volcano at Lisbon it cannot be elsewhere. It is impossible that things should be other than they are; for everything is right."

When Candide’s benefactor Jacques the Anabaptist jumps in the Bay of Lisbon while trying to save the life of a sailor, Pangloss blocks Candide’s effort to save him. Naturally Jacques drowns, but Pangloss then “demonstrated to Candide that the coast of Lisbon had been made on purpose for the Anabaptist to be drowned there.” Candide is flogged, men who wouldn’t eat bacon are burned alive, Cunegonde is violated in numerous and horrible ways, and even Pangloss himself is hung as a heretic and to prevent future earthquakes—but still, Pangloss insists all is for the best. As for Candide, he begins to have his doubts that Pangloss and his ever-more-ridiculous optimism is worth anything.

Candide, amazed, terrified, confounded, astonished, all bloody and trembling from head to foot, said to himself, “If this is the best of all possible worlds, what are the others?”

But of course Pangloss and Cunegonde are unharmed in the end, and Candide recovers from his injuries, leaving them all to cultivate their gardens as they see fit.

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Does Voltaire think that this is the best of all possible worlds, as Dr. Pangloss keeps insisting in Candide?

Voltaire's opinion of Dr. Pangloss's endlessly optimistic philosophical view of the world can be found in chapter 19 of Candide.

"Optimism," said Cacambo, "what is that?"

"Alas!" said Candide, "it is the madness of insisting that everything is at its best when it is at its worst."

The philosophy that Dr. Pangloss teaches to Candide is a simplified, simplistic version of the writings and teachings of a number of philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Reason), which was prevalent in Europe in the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. Notable among these philosophers, and the primary target of Voltaire's withering satire, is Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646–1716).

Leibniz asserted that God exists and that—since God is benevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient—out of all the worlds that God could have created, the world that he created must necessarily be the best of all possible worlds.

Leibniz posited further that everything that happens in this world, and, by extension, in the universe—no matter how bad, evil, unfortunate, devastating, or horrible an event appears to be—is all a part of God's plan, and must also necessarily be for the best.

Leibniz reasoned that the times that man sees imperfections in the world are due to man's limited perception and his own failure to understand God's grand plan.

Throughout Candide, Voltaire attacks and satirizes these kinds of philosophies and the philosophers that espouse them, the hypocrisy of religion and corrupt religious leaders, and the mindless adherence of the general public to absurd philosophies and flawed religious doctrines.

Voltaire believed in God, but he believed that God created the world, then left the world and the people who populate it to their own devices.

In the neighborhood lived a famous dervish who passed for the best philosopher in Turkey; they went to consult him: Pangloss, who was their spokesman, addressed him thus:

"Master, we come to entreat you to tell us why so strange an animal as man has been created?"

"Why do you trouble your head about it?" said the dervish; "is it any business of yours?"

"But, Reverend Father," said Candide, "there is a horrible deal of evil on the earth."

"What does it matter," said the dervish, "whether there is evil or good? When His Highness sends a ship to Egypt does he trouble his head whether the rats in the vessel are comfortable or not?"

Ultimately, the real-world disasters that Candide experiences and the life lessons that he learns overcome his mindless optimism, and he recognizes the utter nonsense and futility of Dr. Pangloss's "best of all possible worlds" philosophy.

Pangloss sometimes said to Candide:

"There is a concatenation of events in this best of all possible worlds: for if you had not been kicked out of a magnificent castle for love of Miss Cunegonde: if you had not been put into the Inquisition: if you had not walked over America: if you had not stabbed the Baron: if you had not lost all your sheep from the fine country of El Dorado: you would not be here eating preserved citrons and pistachio-nuts."

"All that is very well," answered Candide, "but let us cultivate our garden."

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