Monday, February 24, 2014

No monads no more

When looking into the “best of possible worlds” that runs deep through the critique that Candide attempts to bring to light regarding the philosophical investigations of Gottfried Leibniz, one of the key methods of critique, and one of the most powerful messages of Candide, comes from the silence or the lack of descriptions or information throughout the work. In this regard, Voltaire’s use of silence emphasizes the emptiness or the nothingness of the reality of the “best of possible worlds” and the unperturbed optimism that resulted from the idea that all of the “causes and effects” occur for the best possible reasons. The novel generally skips from scene to scene without the power of the creative manipulation of language as seen with past examples such as Huck Finn. Rather, events just happen, with no justification as to why, such as Pangloss’ hanging and the murder of Cunegonde’s older brother, the head of the Jesuits. Even when discussing the problems that the characters face in the world, the descriptions are left empty and examples are compared rather than understood, especially as seen when Cunegonde and the old woman who was the former daughter of the pope. When looking into the unfortunate problems that plagued the two women, the facts were generally presented without the emotions. In this sense, it feels as though the nature of Candide separates individuals and centers more on the hypotheticals in the world without a care about real people than the experience of communities.

It is easy then to see why the novel would be banned, as the comedic and generally idiotic events poke holes in the philosophical implications laid out by not only saying that the events that take place in reality do not match up with the idea of the “best possible worlds,” but also that there is more suffering and despair in the world that there is nothing that can justify the optimism set forth by Leibniz. The issue of how the world is the best possible then creates a scary reality for humanity, as the thinking that the suffering and despair that surround the unfortunate characters in Candide would actually strengthen the characters’ wills and allow them to see the “causes and effects” that make the world the best possible one. Therefore,it seems as though the separation of the characters into different "worlds" becomes one of the key realities that occurs in Candide, and the importance of an individual lies solely within God's will for the person. I feel as though Voltaire expresses this best when he writes, "'She will do as well as she can,' said Cacambo; 'the women are never at a loss, God provides for them, let us run.'" (Voltaire 32).

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