A Rational Demonstration of Irrational Thought Essay

490 Words2 Pages
Voltaire's work Candide is an absurd, irrational story that takes the reader to almost every part of the world in a critical analysis of enlightenment thought. Readers may view Candide as a work that encompasses enlightenment thought. On the contrary however, Candide is indeed a correction and criticism of popular enlightenment ideals. Mainly, Voltaire focuses on the irrationality of the "best of all worlds" philosophy and in the end, concludes that there will never be a utopia on earth. Through an analysis of Pangloss and Eldorado, this will be demonstrated. Initially, the reader is introduced to Pangloss as the intellectual head of the household who maintains the philosophy that humankind lives in the "best of all…show more content…
because if there is a volcano in Lisbon it could not be anywhere else... because everything is for the best."2 The optimistic attitude portrayed by Pangloss in Candide mirrors the philosophies of many enlightenment thinkers such as Leibniz. The focus of Voltaire in Candide was to critique and refute this popular enlightenment philosophy. Through the various anecdotes, Voltaire shows that although Candide and Pangloss are good people, horrific and terrible things happen to them. Therefore, the reader observes that Pangloss's philosophy is not founded in reality. Many enlightenment thinkers wrote various tracts in an attempt to explain human behavior and demonstrate the ideals that would create a utopian society. Much like Pangloss's philosophy, this Utopian fantasy is just that: a fantasy, not reality. In Candide, Voltaire shows the impossibility of a utopian society by describing the city of Eldorado. Eldorado is the culmination of enlightenment ideals; every citizen lives in perfect harmony without disagreement or unlawfulness. This would seem to be the perfect utopian society. However, Voltaire demonstrates the inherent flaw which denies the possibility of a utopian society: human nature. Although Candide and Cacambo are lavished with everything they could ever desire in a perfect society, they are still restless and
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