Saturday, December 7, 2013

Voltaire's Skepticism

Throughout Candide, Voltaire makes a meal of critiquing optimism. Voltaire's own philosophy of skepticism can be found at every turn. I also find there are several similarities between the skeptic philosophies of Montaigne, the father of modern skepticism, and Voltaire's own philosophy. Especially in Chapter 25 of Candide, Voltaire’s skepticism becomes all to obvious. Candide continues to suggest pieces of literature and great authors to the count, and the count continues to criticize them all. When Candide mentions that he found the music of the concerto Pococurante ordered to be delightful, Pococurante replies, "Music today is only the art of performing difficult pieces, and what is merely difficult cannot please for long"(234). When Candide mentions Milton, Pococurante replies, "Neither I nor anyone else in Italy has been able to enjoy these gloomy extravagances" (236). And finally, when Candide mentions Homer, Pococurante replies,"...all that bores me to tears"(234). Through the count, Voltaire ultimately suggests that nothing can make humans happy. 

From this, I think we can conclude that Voltaire was quite a joy to be around.
 Really a bundle of laughs...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Voltaire was opposed to any sort of extremes. He is poking fun at Pococurante's skepticism here; he's not endorsing it.