Books and Movies Reviews

The Best possible World Interpretations of Candide

Since when does the best possible world involve brutal beatings, venereal diseases, rape, slavery, greed and abandonment? These are but some of the issues which Voltaire's characters face in Candide, and a reader cannot help but relate these negative phenomenon to at least some aspect or trauma experienced within his or her own life. It is blatantly obvious that we do not live in a perfect world, but the question brought forth that of all the imperfect possibilities for a world's existence to have, does our world warrant the top most choice? To this query, my answer would be no. One may say that this makes me a pessimist, but I believe rather, that it makes me an idealist, for I believe that a better world is possible.
The main target for the satire in Voltaire's work is Candide's mentor, Pangloss, who despite experiencing tragedy after tragedy, maintains the philosophical outlook that their world is the best of all possible worlds, and tries to bestow this belief upon the naive Candide. This man goes far beyond the conventional practice of optimism, in fact, pushing the outlook to extreme and foolishly hyperbolic lengths. This practice demonstrates Voltaire's theme of the folly of optimism, showing how too much of this "good thing" can actually be quite disastrous.
This is a sentiment to which I am in full agreement with. Optimists who only recognize the good things in life, are restricting themselves to a life without full realization of both the world and of the human condition. That is not to say that they will not live a happy life, but that it will be a blissful life of ignorance. I suppose that it is up to each individual to decide whether a happy life in ignorance is better than a derisory one of awareness, but from the viewpoint of an "enlightened philosopher" for which many post-renaissance academics take themselves to be, it is believed that one cannot be truly happy with…

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