Voltaire is disturbingly deep.
(by the way, I read the translated version)
(The various view presented)
Optimism: No matter the suffering and miseries, everything is predestined and happens for the greater good. We can’t and should not prevent or avoid the events in our lives. The world we live in is already the best of all possible worlds. Therefore, we should not even offer help to others, for ultimately, it will all turn out for the better.
The enlightenment movement: The philosophy during this period was that people genuinely try to do things for the best, but solely because of ignorance, immorale acts existed. If the whole population were educated, we would all be rational.
Voltaire, however, saw certain things we do that just can’t be rationalized or explained.
Happiness and perfection: Nothing remains “perfect”. Human happiness is very fragile. The better your life started, the worst it will become when it falls apart. Also, no matter how high you started and how hard the landing, there will always be someone who has suffered more.
Life and death: “A hundred times I was upon the point of killling myself; but still I loved life. This ridiculous foible is perhaps one of the our most fatal characteristics; for is there anything more absurd than to wish to carry continually a burden which one can always throw down? to destest existence and yet to cling to one’s existence? in brief, to caress the serpent which devours us, till he has eaten our very heart?”
We are always stuck in between loving and hating life. But people would much rather suffer than to die. This is considered as humanity’s fatal flaw — the vast majority of humans will never choose to kill themselves, because there is this love we’ve developed for life, no matter how much it makes us suffer.
Morality: When your life is on the line, there is no time for doing the right thing and to be moral. When it comes to survival, you’ve got to be practical. In times of desperation, right and wrong does not matter, nor does religion. When there is no bread, you must find bread before you starve.
Rationalization: During times of war of many civillians and soldiers dying for no good reason, we still ratioanlize our way out. We give each other reasons that we think we can accept.
Back in the days, Christianity imposes a lot of emphasis on charity, yet very few showed mercy to the population.
The idea in this is…whether we are given a reason to kill or a reason to be good, it doesn’t change a thing. We are still that inconsiderate.
Baptism: People should be baptized only when they are old enough to know the meaning.
Human nature: All misery is man’s doing. Wolves are born with the ability to hunt and to kill. However, we weren’t given that strength. We turned ourselves into wolves and created our own tools for the mere purpose to kill. We are not born killers, but made killers.
Good people: All good people die young and the evil lives on.
Beliefs: Christianity is no better off than other religions out of fear and supersitions.
Entitlement and paradise: It doesn’t matter what kind of title you carry; people are idiots all across the board. Even if paradise and an eden-like world exists, it is unreachable and unattainable. It is an isolated place. However, we can never appreciate this kind of peace because we dislike equality. We always compete to be better than the rest and to stand out. Peace can never be established because we always want more than our neighbours.
This book is only about 87 pages long. It is a very short read, but it was able to incorporate all of these ideas. It was a very grim novel, very pessimistic and hopeless thoughts. I guess you can’t blame Voltaire for having given up on humanity because of his hard upbringing. I disagree with most of the ideas presented in the book, but it definitely depressed me a little. I wonder if anyone have actually read all that I have written…but there’s even more to come because I’ve only covered 2/3 of the book… =P