English

To Make Us Mad

Matthew Karshna

Description/Abstract

Candide is a satire written by Voltaire, published in 1759. The novella follows the life of young Candide, who is influenced by Leibniz’s philosophies to believe that the world he lives in and observes is “the best of all possible worlds.” Trusting his tutor Pangloss, who espouses Leibniz’s Philosophy of Optimism, Candide carries this view with him, even once he is cast out of his home into the world to make his own way. His ensuing adventures put the philosophy to a rigorous test, ultimately revealing it as ridiculous. Written to challenge the Philosophy of Optimism, Candide unveils the self-serving agenda of Leibniz’s philosophy. This seemingly naïve philosophy can still be seen in the rhetoric of today’s society, in attitudes like the one viewing AIDS as God’s punishment for homosexuality. This project analyses Voltaire’s use of hyperbole, irony, and satiric euphemism in the novella, to understand his critique of the philosophy and his warning of its dangers. Employing the scholarship on euphemism and its effects, the project considers Voltaire’s implication that the Philosophy of Optimism can, at its worst, become terroristic. Although current research on Candide argues for the novella’s continued relevance, few scholars note Voltaire’s exploration of the terroristic potential of ideas like Leibniz’s.

 
Mar 13th, 10:00 AM Mar 13th, 11:00 AM

To Make Us Mad

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Candide is a satire written by Voltaire, published in 1759. The novella follows the life of young Candide, who is influenced by Leibniz’s philosophies to believe that the world he lives in and observes is “the best of all possible worlds.” Trusting his tutor Pangloss, who espouses Leibniz’s Philosophy of Optimism, Candide carries this view with him, even once he is cast out of his home into the world to make his own way. His ensuing adventures put the philosophy to a rigorous test, ultimately revealing it as ridiculous. Written to challenge the Philosophy of Optimism, Candide unveils the self-serving agenda of Leibniz’s philosophy. This seemingly naïve philosophy can still be seen in the rhetoric of today’s society, in attitudes like the one viewing AIDS as God’s punishment for homosexuality. This project analyses Voltaire’s use of hyperbole, irony, and satiric euphemism in the novella, to understand his critique of the philosophy and his warning of its dangers. Employing the scholarship on euphemism and its effects, the project considers Voltaire’s implication that the Philosophy of Optimism can, at its worst, become terroristic. Although current research on Candide argues for the novella’s continued relevance, few scholars note Voltaire’s exploration of the terroristic potential of ideas like Leibniz’s.