They also include essays on Locke, Descartes, and Newton. Voltaire was much influenced by English tolerance, and his observations on the subject sounded a revolutionary note among European readers that resonated for long afterward.
First published in English in 1733, Philosophical Letters was condemned by the French government as "likely to inspire a license of thought most dangerous to religion and civil order." It remains a landmark.
Voltaire teve um importante papel na disseminação do newtonianismo no continente europeu. Mas também ele foi responsável pela tentativa mais direta de estender a autoridade de Newton a outros temas filosóficos, além daqueles relativos à matemática e à física. O livro La Métahysique de Newton , publicado em 1740, é uma prova disso. Neste artigo, o livro de Voltaire é analisado a partir do contexto das polêmicas entre partidários de Newton e de Leibniz. Procura-se identificar nexos entre o (...) projeto esboçado no La Métaphysique e as especulações de Hume e de Kant sobre os problemas metafísicos da teoria newtoniana da gravitação universal. (shrink)
Meu intuito é tecer algumas considerações sobre a descoberta e relação de Voltaire com o newtonianismo, e a partir daí refletir de maneira mais geral sobre as possibilidades da aproximação entre filosofia e ciência.
O presente texto procura entender as razões que levaram o filósofo e crítico escocês Hugh Blair a tomar Voltaire como um modelo para o historiador moderno. Inicia-se o estudo com uma breve exposição de alguns elementos da concepção de história no pensamento voltairiano e então se passa à consideração que o autor britânico faz deles. The present text aims to understand the reasons that took the Scottish philosopher and critic Hugh Blair to take Voltaire as a model to (...) the modern historian. This study begins with a brief description of some elements of history conception according to Voltaire´s thinking and then the consideration that the British author makes of it. (shrink)
Tudo se passa como se a escrita filosófica de Voltaire se desenvolvesse em uma dupla oposição: de um lado, ela visa denunciar o palavrório dos fazedores de sistemas e a cacofonia a que ele conduz, opondo-lhes a prudência e a modéstia; de outro, ela pretende restaurar, contra a tentação cética, o direito à busca da verdade. Em Voltaire, o discurso filosófico nasce desta tensão, do desejo de dizer o mundo e da vontade de se calar, tensão que a (...) escolha do diálogo tem por função explicitar, dramatizando-a. Perguntamo-nos, então, sobre o lugar e o estatuto da filosofia nos Diálogos . Conteúdo ou continente, conjunto de temas ou modalidade discursiva, a filosofia não está tranquila nesses textos, ela aparece em muitos aspectos como uma exigência problemática. (shrink)
Voltaire's militancy in favor of religious toleration is well-known. But he seems to be concerned by its practical results, the rehabilitation of those religiously persecuted, rather than by the theorectical reasonings to convince his opponents. That can be seen in the few importance given to argumentation in the Traité sur la tolerance , mostly composed by historical examples of violence caused by religious fanaticism. However, in Voltaire we find real philosophical reflection on tolerance, but the author finds it (...) inneficient to convince his contemporaries, who are more inclined to accept the presentation of matters of fact rather than the discussion of matters of right. But Voltaire does not limit his comments to facts, he knows that philosophy and law have something to say about tolerance, and that theory influences on and is influenced by practices. So that Voltaire's reflections on tolerance are not limited only to practical positions adopted to defend some individuals from religious persecution, his positions have to be understood also at its theorectical level, for at this level he is also original and gives no concessions, which separates him from his English masters such as John Locke. (shrink)
As críticas de Newton e Voltaire endereçadas à negação do vazio por parte de Descartes compartilham uma estrutura básica: ambos parecem concordar que tal tese cartesiana conduz a implicações indesejáveis tanto no campo da mecânica, quanto no que diz respeito à teologia. Entretanto, embora Newton admita as implicações teológicas da negação do vazio, elas não constituem o fim último de sua crítica, o que parece ocorrer na crítica de Voltaire. Ao contrário, os argumentos newtonianos para assumir o vazioencontram (...) na mecânica não apenas um campo de prova; eles constituem uma parte importante da fundamentação de um dos pilares do newtonianismo: o espaço absoluto. (shrink)
Meu intuito é tecer algumas considerações sobre a descoberta e relação de Voltaire com o newtonianismo, e a partir daí refletir de maneira mais geral sobre as possibilidades da aproximação entre filosofia e ciência.
Este artigo procura pensar qual a importância da noção de “liberdade” para o conceito de história em Rousseau e Voltaire. Em ambas as perspectivas de abordagem, a história moderna segue uma norma teleológica ou há um espaço para a ação política?
The aim of this paper is to examine the extent of the critiques that La Beaumelle gives to Voltaire in the annotated edition of the Siècle de Louis XIV, published in 1753, and his response in the Supplément au Siècle de Louis XIV, published a few months later. This, on the other hand, sheds some light on a number of tensions in the Voltaire’s historiographical project. It is shown that in the historical and historiographical works of the philosopher, (...) there are different methodology criteria and that the joint between them is problematic. (shrink)
O presente texto visa avaliar o estatuto da revolução a partir da obra de dois filósofos franceses, por assim dizer, que empenharam parte considerável de seu trabalho na investigação sobre a história: Voltaire e Jean Bodin. Nossa intenção é entender a relação entre as noções de transformações, revolução e guerra, conflitos, tumultos. Não pretendemos estabelecer uma comparação rígida, porque anacrônica, entre as obras desses filósofos que trabalharam sobre a história. O que intentamos aqui é investigar algumas linhas de força (...) de seus argumentos que visam explicar as revoluções, suas origens e consequências para mostrar como a articulação entre esses elementos possibilita a Voltaire e a Bodin que realizem o que chamaremos de desmistificação de aspectos pertinentes tanto à filosofia quanto à história. Trata-se ainda de mostra em que medida Bodin e Voltaire divergem e se encontram no que tange ao tratamento filosófico desses temas. This paper aims at evaluating the status of the idea of revolution presented by Voltaire and Bodin. Both philosophers' works are mostly directed to the investigation of history. The purpose of this paper is to understand the connection between the ideas of change, revolution, war, turmoil and conflicts. There is no intention of establishing a strict comparison between the two works, as for that would be anachronistic. On the contrary, this paper intends to investigate some of the main arguments used by both authors to explain the revolutions, its origins and consequences, to show how the articulation between those elements enables them to demystify relevant aspects present in both history and philosophy. Finally, it also aims at pointing at the extent to which the authors diverge and converge in their philosophical approach to the referred themes. (shrink)
Chapitre. VI. LA PUBLICATION DE « LA LETTRE À VOLTAIRE », 1759-1764 Les manuscrits de La Lettre à Voltaire montrent avec quelle attention au choix des mots Rousseau en a rédigé le texte. Faut-il voir là le signe d'une intention de la ...
The 3rd batch of 6 books in this series on the Greatest Philosophrs by acclaimed specialists writing for the General reader. From Aristotle to Wittgenstein, from Democritus to Derrida, this series provides a lucid and concise survey of philosophers ancient and modern. Each volime is by an acknowledged expert briefed to address the adventurous non-specialist reader.
Voltaire is widely known as the author of a literary masterpiece, Candide, while his reputation as a thinker rests largely on his Philosophical Letters and Philosophical Dictionary. He is equally renowned as a critic of the forces of superstition and fanaticism, and a champion of freedom of thought and belief. The works presented here, in a new English translation, are among the most important and characteristic texts of the Enlightenment, and bring together all three aspects of Voltaire: the (...) writer, the doer and the philosophe. Originating in Voltaire's campaign to exonerate Jean Calas, they are works of polemical brilliance, informed by his deism and humanism and by Enlightenment values and ideals more generally. The issues which they raise, concerning questions of tolerance and human dignity, are still highly relevant to our own times. This volume presents them together with an introduction by Simon Harvey and useful notes on further reading. (shrink)
This paper wants to draw out a common argument in three great philosophers and littérateurs in modern French thought: Michel de Montaigne, Voltaire, and Albert Camus. The argument makes metaphysical and theological scepticism the first premise for a universalistic political ethics, as per Voltaire's: “it is clearer still that we ought to be tolerant of one another, because we are all weak, inconsistent, liable to fickleness and error.” The argument, it seems to me, presents an interestingly overlooked, deeply (...) important and powerful contribution to the philosophical discourse of modernity. On one hand, theological and post-structuralist critics of “humanism” usually take the latter to depend either on an essentialist philosophical anthropology, or a progressive philosophy of history. The former, it is argued, is philosophically contestable and ethically contentious. The latter, for better or worse, is a continuation of theological eschatology by another name. So both, if not “modernity” per se, should somehow be rejected. But an ethical universalism – like that we find in Montaigne, Bayle, Voltaire, or Camus – which does not claim familiarity with metaphysical or eschatological truths, but humbly confesses our epistemic finitude, seeing in this the basis for ethical solidarity, eludes these charges. On the other hand, philosophical scepticism plays a large role in the post-structuralist criticisms of modern institutions and ideas in ways which have been widely taken to license forms of ethics which problematically identify responsibility, with taking a stand unjustifiable by recourse to universalizable reasons. But, in Montaigne, Voltaire and Camus, our ignorance concerning the highest or final truths does not close off, but rather opens up, a new descriptive sensitivity to the foibles and complexities of human experience: a sensitivity reflected amply, and often hilariously, in their literary productions. As such, a critical agnosticism concerning claims about things “in the heavens and beneath the earth” does not, for such a “sceptical humanism,” necessitate decisionism or nihilism. Instead, it demands a redoubled ethical sensitivity to the complexities and plurality of political life which sees the dignity of “really-existing” others, whatever their metaphysical creeds, as an inalienable first datum of ethical conduct and reflection. After tracking these arguments in Montaigne, Voltaire, and Camus, the essay closes by reflecting on, and contesting, one more powerful theological argument against modern agnosticism's allegedly deleterious effects on ethical culture: that acknowledging ignorance concerning the highest things robs us of the basis for awe or wonder, the wellspring of human beings’ highest ethical, aesthetic, and spiritual achievements. (shrink)
This article revisits what has often been called the of Voltaire's historical work. It looks at the methodological and philosophical reasons for Voltaire's deliberate focus on modern history as opposed to ancient history, his refusal to in judging the past, and his extreme selectiveness in determining the relevance of past events to world history. Voltaire's historical practice is put in the context of the quarrel of the ancients and the moderns, and considered in a tradition of universal (...) history going back to Bossuet and leading up to nineteenth-century German historicism. Paradoxically, Voltaire is a major figure in the history of historiography not in spite of his presentism (as Ernst Cassirer and Peter Gay have argued), but because of it. (shrink)
Cet article possède un caractère programmatique et anticipe en partie un travail plus substantiel dont le but sera de contribuer tant aux études portant sur l’histoire du scepticisme moderne qu’à celles touchant à la pensée des Lumières en général, et à celle de Voltaire en particulier. Dans le cadre d’analyse qui est ici le nôtre, il s’agit avant tout d’analyser brièvement certains points de rapprochement et de divergence entre Voltaire et la pensée sceptique. Nous nous contenterons ici de (...) pointer du doigt quatre thèmes qui permettent d’interroger l’utilisation faite par Voltaire du scepticisme sans prétendre proposer d’étude exhaustive de la question : 1) la question de la diaphonie ; 2) le problème de l’existence du monde extérieur ; 3) les rapports entre la foi et la raison ; et 4) les rapports entre l’épochè sceptique et la raison libre des Lumières.The present article has a programmatic perspective. It is the structuring of a longer work which aims to be a contribution both to the studies of skepticism in modern thought and to the studies of Voltaire’s thought. The objective is to consider the proximities and distances of Voltaire and skepticism. In order to do that, I shall organize the analysis of that relation after four aspects which constitute the possible directions for more detailed considerations : the question of diaphony in Voltaire’s texts, the problem of the existence of the exterior world, the relations between faith and reason and the relation between the skeptical epokhe and the raison libre. (shrink)
In his article on « Vampires », in the Dictionnaire philosophique, Voltaire both evokes the phenomenon of the so-called « vampire plague » which hit Central Europe during the 1730s and recalls the controversial interpretations of this phenomenon in France and abroad. He takes advantage of the occasion to renew his anti-religious polemic, with a caustic irony that doesn’t spare even a sincere Voltairian like Jean Baptiste Boyer d’Argens, who had offered a penetrating analysis of this phenomenon in his (...) Lettres Juives. In his text, Voltaire chooses satire rather than an inquiry into causes of the phenomenon, revealing a superficial anthropological approach as well as the limits of an argument conceived as pure ideology. (shrink)
Towards the middle of the 18th century, Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis proposed the “principle of least action” as a fundamental law of physics and as a proof of the existence of God. Samuel König and other contemporary authors criticized Maupertuis’ work. There ensued a fierce discussion concerning this subject, in which Leonhard Euler, the king Frédéric II of Prussia and Voltaire took part. This paper discusses that debate, emphasizing its extrascientific features and analyzing the interests that motivated the actions (...) of the people involved in that episode. RESUMO: Em meados do século XVIII, Pierre-Louis Moreau de Maupertuis propôs o “princípio de ação mínima”, que seria uma lei fundamental da física, além de constituir uma prova da existência de Deus. O trabalho de Maupertuis foi criticado por Samuel König e outros autores da época. Ocorreu uma violenta discussão a respeito desse assunto, da qual participaram Leonhard Euler, o rei Frédéric II da Prússia e Voltaire. Este artigo estuda o debate ocorrido, enfatizando especialmente os aspectos extracientíficos e analisando os interesses que motivaram as ações das pessoas envolvidas nesse episódio. (shrink)
Voltaire's reform program for history-writing emerges when his scattered utterances on method are collected under three headings: I. Details. Voltaire objects to tedious details, but characterizing detail can be used. There must be selection, and its criterion is significance to large-scale trends. II. Falsehoods. Most historians are to be distrusted. Falsehoods arise from relating very ancient or mythical elements, a matter Voltaire comprehends only superficially; also from partisanship, exaggerations, and traditions. Criteria of probability and for the evaluation (...) of testimony are explained. III. The new history. Unlike crude, pedantic historiography of dynastic and political affairs, the new history must deal with leading ideas, cultural, ethnographic, and economic factors. Voltaire's universalism, his stress on humanity and mankind, is limited by his patriotic and monarchical bias and by polemical and stylistic concerns. - Other Voltairean observations are assembled under judgments on his predecessors ; and under his evaluation of historical figures and events in ancient, medieval, and modern history , marked by correct insights but also by occasional naivety and credulity. (shrink)
ResumoNo início do século xviii, Isaac Newton publicou seu principal trabalho sobre óptica, o Opticks. Impregnado por uma perspectiva indutiva, o livro logo se tornou a principal referência para os estudos sobre a luz e as cores, sendo amplamente popularizado pelos seguidores de Newton. Neste artigo, analisamos como dois importantes livros contribuíram para essa popularização e também qual era a imagem de ciência que tencionavam propagar, o Élements de la philosophie de Newton de Voltaire e o Newtonianismo per le (...) dame de Algarotti. Será possível perceber que ambos os autores distorceram o conteúdo do livro de Newton, no intuito de propagar uma imagem idealizada das ideias newtonianas e da própria filosofia natural.In the beginning of 18th century, Newton published his main work about light and colors, the Opticks. Impregnated by an inductive perspective, the book became the major reference for the studies about light and colors, being widely popularized by Newton's followers. In this article, we analyze how two important works contributed to this process of popularization and also what image of science they intended to propagate: Voltaire's Elements of Newton's philosophie and Algarotti's Sir Isaac Newton's philosophy explain'd for the use of the ladies. We will be notice that both authors distorted the content of the Opticks, in order to propagate an idealized image of Newtonian ideas and natural philosophy itself. (shrink)
Isaac de Pinto was an active financier, economist and homme de lettres. Descending from a Jewish family of Portuguese origin, he lived in Amsterdam, Paris and London. Throughout his life, he enjoyed close relationships and made regular contact with important figures of the European Enlightenment. The main purpose of this article is to show that the concern with the Jewish problems, namely those relating to the difficult economic situation of the Portuguese nation in Amsterdam in the second half of the (...) eighteenth century, is a key factor in explaining the ongoing moral and apologetic dialogues that Isaac de Pinto maintained separately with Voltaire and Diderot. ☆ The authors are most grateful for the comments and suggestions provided by Antoin Murphy and two referees of this journal. The usual disclaimer applies. (shrink)
: O texto salienta a importância da sátira lucianesca no pensamento das Luzes, em especial nos textos de Voltaire. Ao mesmo tempo, ele busca criticar a carência de humor na filosofia de nossa época, a partir de uma análise comparativa da prosa iluminista com a fala sibilina das correntes filosóficas irracionalistas, em especial as de Martin Heidegger e de seus epígonos.
Summary In about 1735, Emilie Du Châtelet began to translate Mandeville's Fable of the Bees. Her work, which is largely ignored by scholars, did, as this article demonstrates, turn out to be one of transformation rather than of translation and came at a crucial moment in the emerging French luxury debate. So far commercial society and luxury had been defended in purely economic terms, for instance in Melon's Essai politique, or as an aspect of divine providence for fallen man, by (...) Pierre Nicole amongst others. There was as yet no coherent defence on the level of secular ethics. As this article shows, Du Châtelet set out to remedy this. In co-operation with Voltaire, with whose recent praise of English society in the Lettres philosophiques she strongly identified, she rewrote the Fable to offer a defence of modern commercial society as both natural and moral. The article argues that she was able to do so by taking recourse to classic Epicureanism in the guise of Lucretius' De rerum natura, as an alternative to the Neo-Epicureanism, with its Augustinian overtones, as espoused by Mandeville. Voltaire in turn used her translation to lay the foundations for his defence of commercial society and progress in his Traité de métaphysique in which he uses the precise passages she had inserted into Mandeville's original. This article analyses the further aspects Voltaire adds to her arguments. Taken together, Du Châtelet's ?translation? and Voltaire's Traité offer a coherent defence of bourgeois society that would underlie Voltaire's later historiographical and philosophical works and which were crucial to his concept of ?Enlightenment? and ?progress? (shrink)