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Ra’Kel Brown ♥ 900828441 Candide Chapter 5: Identifying Various Philosophical Positions

Candide is Voltaire’s criticism against nobility, philosophy, the church, and cruelty. The novel savagely simulates a number of Enlightenment philosophies. In chapter 5, two examples of the four philosophical positions were demonstrated. The book is mainly about Candide, the illegitimate nephew of a German baron. Before chapter 5, an Anabaptist named Jacques takes Candide and Pangloss, Candide’s teacher in. The three travel to Lisbon together, but before they could arrive there, their ship runs into a storm. Despite his kindness, Jacques is pessimistic about human nature. He drowns in the Bay of Lisbon while trying to save the life of an ungrateful sailor; dying in his altruism. Candide and Pangloss arrive in Lisbon to find it destroyed by an earthquake and under the control of the Inquisition. There were many groans of dying and buried victims from the ruins. Pangloss and Candide help them, and Pangloss comforts the victims by telling them the earthquake is for the best. However, one of the officers of the Inquisition accuses Pangloss of heresy because of his optimism. He states that the fall and punishment of man proves that everything is not for the best. In this chapter, Pangloss gives a great portrayal of philosophical optimism. Philosophical optimism, developed by Leibniz between the late 17th and early 18th century, is the belief that this is the best of all possible worlds and humans can know it. Pangloss in this chapter tells the dying and buried victims of the earthquake that all of this is happening for the best. He keeps a very hopeful attitude throughout the storm and the earthquake, when there was clearly not any more hope that could be made. In opposition, one of the officers clearly thinks otherwise. He knows that there is clearly no hope from the events that happened. He has a more philosophical pessimism approach towards life. Philosophical pessimism, developed by Pascal in the mid-17th century, is the belief that humans are ignorant of their true condition and therefore cannot know the world. The officer even accuses Pangloss of heresy because of his “wild” beliefs! Voltaire chooses these events in this chapter to describe each philosophical position because he knows that in a serious situation as these most individuals would not show hope or consideration of the world. This helps make the positions easier to dissect and understand.

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