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Voltaire's view on human nature

  1. Dec 10, 2004 #1
    i didnt know where this should go so i just put it in general. im doing a culminating project on Voltaire in my philosophy class. one problem i encountered was that i dont know very much about Voltaire though he does seem interesting i know he was a poet, author etc but i dont know exactly what his view on human nature was. was he a materialist? dualist? (i know he was not an idealist. rationalist? existentialist? functionalist?etc... i've tried to look it up on the internet but every site i find doesnt give me a straight answer...

    thanks guys i appreciate it :blushing: :redface:
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2004
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 10, 2004 #2
    He was a mysteriolist.
  4. Dec 10, 2004 #3
    one of his famous quotes goes something like this... "I don't agree with a word you said, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." i think he believed in enlightened depotism along with all of the other french philopies at his time. that is about all i know. gl w/the project
  5. Dec 10, 2004 #4
    Apparently, Voltaire never said that:
    http://ask.yahoo.com/ask/20030331.html [Broken]

    • the fact of the matter is, Voltaire didn't pen or utter the sentiment you quote. According to a number of web sites, "The phrase was invented by a later author as an epitome of his attitude." It comes from The Friends of Voltaire, written by Evelyn Beatrice Hall and published in 1906 under the pseudonym Stephen G. Tallentyre. Hall said that she paraphrased Voltaire's words in his "Treatise on Toleration," which includes such thoughts as:

      • Not only is it extremely cruel to persecute in this brief life those who do not think the way we do, but I do not know if it might be too presumptuous to declare their eternal damnation.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  6. Dec 11, 2004 #5
    thank you for correcting me, i had the right idea though if it was paraphrased from him. so i was kinda right lol. i forgot to say that he did get sent to jail twice
  7. Dec 11, 2004 #6
    im reading this website that says he was a deist-the belief based solely on reason, a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation

    and thanks for all your help guys... i have a really awesome thesis now!

    Voltaire aided greatly to the French Revolution which brought about a final downfall of quarreling aristocracy and religious intolerance in Europe.

    and for my three proofs they are: He accomplished this through his work Candide, his constant criticism of the Bible and Catholicism,....well those are two and im not sure what the third one will be but it has to relate on his views of human nature, epistimology, metaphysics or ethics...so i dont know yet....still trying to think of that
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2004
  8. Dec 11, 2004 #7


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    some quotes i found off of Wikipedia:

    "Common sense is not so common."

    "History is fables agreed upon."

    "God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh."

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities"

  9. Dec 11, 2004 #8
    what branch of philosophy would you most relate Voltaire to?

    metaphysics? ethics? epistomology? human nature?

    (keeping in mind my thesis...which you can read above...)

    the problem, again is finding actual information on these topics because all that everything i try to find is about Candide or his other writings
  10. Dec 11, 2004 #9
    His understanding coincides with some of my own with the exception that although the choices are not made by dual concious entity they are indeed born from the whole and therefore a manifestation of the whole. The fact that he would defend ones right to speak though is born in an absence of realization. For is it not the free choice of those to keep one from speaking their free choice to make that action? LoL Easy to point the finger. My own personal one is the saving of the environment for the future incarnation of all fools. When in the absolute there is nothing to save only when we step out of it and back into the box do we say and do these things.
  11. Dec 12, 2004 #10


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    My all-time favorite quote is Voltaire's "A witty saying proves nothing."

    You can find translations of his works and detailed bios about him online. It sounds like you are looking for a summary of his philosophy, so here are some links. (I'm not sure how authoratative they are.)
    One of them says he was a humanist, another says he was not a materialist, etc. That sounds like what you are looking for.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
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