The worldview of Voltaire was formed based on free-thinking at the beginning of the 18th century, which was hedonistic and anti-religious in nature. A negative attitude of the author to any official creeds was one of the consequences presented in Candide. This is a philosophical story that not only focuses on the depth of the issues raised at that time but also their critique. The main interest is the collision of two different philosophies, the bearers of which Voltaire makes two characters —Pangloss and Martin. They appear in the story as the teachers of Candide and express two points of view on the world. Pangloss is optimistic in the assessment of what is happening, while Martin, on the contrary, adheres to pessimism and insists on recognizing the eternal imperfection of the world in which evil reigns.
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These points of view on life in Voltaire’s story seem to summarize the development of philosophical thought in the 18th century. In the statements of Pangloss, the philosophy of the German scientist Leibnitz, who was popular at that time, appears in a generalized form. Pangloss notes that pre-established harmony is the most beautiful thing in the world, as well as the fullness of the universe and weightless matter (Cronk 42).
In the ideas of Martin, the echoes of skeptical sentiments of the Enlightenment can be identified. Voltaire examines these philosophies through the fate of Candide, who, based on his experience, is expected to decide which of his teachers is correct. Thus, Voltaire considers an empirical approach to solving philosophical questions, which demonstrates the prevalence of science over religion and pessimism over optimism as one of the key promoted ideas of the epoch.
Cronk, Nicholas. Voltaire: Candide. 3rd ed., Modern Library, 2016.