"The following is a list of the major general ideas, ideals, and values of the Enlightenment
found in Voltaire’s Candide, published in 1759. They are concepts as the Enlightenment philosophes understood them.
- Freedom: especially freedom of thought, necessary for autonomy (“freedom from external control or influence; independence”), as Kant indicated in his definition of Enlightenment;
2. Humanism: a concern for humanity, what is uniquely human, and for solving human problems;
3. Cosmopolitanism: familiarity with different cultures obtained through travel;
4. Toleration; the practice of tolerating people who differ from you in their opinions, practices, religions, etc.
5. Secularism: worldliness; removing religion from explanations about how the world or aspects of it work;
6. Pagan self-reliance: relying on yourself to solve problems, instead of praying to your god or the gods to help you;
7. Empiricism: strictly speaking, “the theory that all knowledge is derived from sense-experience”; but it can also mean, as Voltaire used it, learning from experience;
8. For cultural relativism: ‘the idea that a person’s beliefs, values, and practices should be understood based on that person’s own culture, rather than be judged against the criteria of another”; in other words, it means being non-judgmental when one encounters people who display different practices or beliefs than those accepted as the norm in your culture; that is, you try to understand people who are different in terms of their culture, not yours. As such, it is the opposite of ethnocentrism, which constitutes being judgmental, as one evaluates “other cultures according to preconceptions originating in the standards and customs of one’s own culture,” This can be a toughie, so here’s a clue from Candide: monkeys, and the difference between how Candide and Cacambo react when they see them.
9. Realism: “the attitude or practice of accepting a situation as it is and being prepared to deal with it accordingly.” Let’s see. Candide is subtitled Optimism, a stance that is represented by Pangloss; Martin, another character, is a pessimist in his outlook, the complete opposite of Pangloss. Which three characters represent realism?
- What is the meaning of the famous last line of Candide? “’All that is very well,’ answered Candide, ‘but let us cultivate our garden.’” What does Voltaire mean? Provide a brief explanation.