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Kenny Pearce

I have not carefully studied Candide (or Voltaire more generally), but when I read it it seemed to me that the perspective adopted by Candide and friends at the end of the book was supposed to be self-evidently (indeed, outrageously) inadequate. I took this to be part of the satire: that it's bizarre and ridiculous to think that, after all the evils they have seen in the world, the characters could find such a simplistic way of cheerfully accepting life for what it is. The practical, anti-intellectual response to evil in the world is every bit as inadequate as Pangloss's optimism.

That's just how it looked to me when I read it (again, reading it as a novel and not making a close study). Is there evidence in Candide, or in Voltaire's other writings, for your 'straight' reading of the conclusion, suggesting that eschewing contemplation and working one's garden is considered by Voltaire to be the correct response to evil in the world?

Eric Schliesser

Kenny, I think you have misunderstood my claim. I am not suggesting "that eschewing contemplation and working one's garden is considered by Voltaire to be the correct response to evil in the world." Rather, I am suggesting it is his normative ideal. That's a different issue from how to mitigate or remedy the evils (in a second best fashion) according to Voltaire.

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