Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Answer is Work?

My favorite place where Candide travels is Voltaire’s utopia “El Dorado”. In this kingdom there are no prisons, everyone is kind, money is not a priority, and instead math and technology are in the spotlight. Candide, the most naïve optimist, finds this place and is at awe with it. This utopia is not struck with thieves and violence, but instead with thinkers and intelligence. It’s also noteworthy that at this point in Candide’s travels he is without both philosophers (Pangloss and Martin). In this perfect land there is no need to focus on a life that is better or worse than the one he is presently living. It is also interesting that he does not meet the pessimistic philosopher, Martin, until after he leaves El Dorado (a very rich man might I add) that he is faced with such pessimism. Voltaire is suggesting that if people focus on the things that could possibly benefit society, like advances in math and technology, instead of money and war, then maybe life would be better off.
                Shortly after Candide encounters Martin he talks to him about all of his hardships in his search of finding Cunegonde. He asks the philosopher: “Do you believe,” said Candide, “that men have always have been liars, cheats, traitors, ingrates, brigands, idiots, thieves, scoundrels, gluttons, drunkards, misers, envious, ambitious, bloody-minded, calumniators, debauchees, fanatics, hypocrites, and fools?” (55) Of course Martin’s answer is a sarcastic one and the answer summed up as a yes, men have always been all of those things. Voltaire’s answer is that yes men are horrible and will continue to be horrible, but in order to survive they must use their minds and work. In order, to obtain that utopia “El Dorado” where there is innovation and thinking, one must “cultivate their own garden” as we were meant to, being sons (or daughters) of Adam. 

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