the problem of evil 1

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Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz at the Stanford Dictionary of Philosophy

your post needs to be substantive — meaning thoughtful and supported by specifics from the novel. 400-500 words is, again, not a bad range for this initial post.

READ: Read “Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz” article in the Week 4 Resources module.

Read Intro to Voltaire and Candide (pages 97-159).

The Problem of Evil

Voltaire, as your text points out, was a Deist — though he believed in God, he did not believe God was actively engaged with creation. Candide explores one of the core theological difficulties that inspired both Deism and Atheism: the Problem of Evil. The difficulty he and other philosophers had was this: if God is both good and all-powerful, why do bad things happen? Traditionally in Christianity, this was explained in light of Original Sin — evil entered the world with the Fall of Adam and Eve, and continues as punishment for that sin. The Enlightenment, which grew out of a Christian context, began to question the existence of Original Sin — certainly the Deists did. Since it had been the core explanation of evil, in its absence, philosophers struggled to resolve the question of why evil exists in the world.

In the novella, one view on the Problem of Evil is represented by Pangloss, Voltaire’s stand-in for Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who you’ve read about in the Week 3 Resources folder.

In your initial post, reflect on a few specific examples of how Candide challenges the optimistic philosophy of Pangloss (Leibniz).

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